One of the main reasons people pursue a career in education is to make a positive difference in young peoples’ lives. This purity of motive has become harder in recent years, with a Common Core curriculum dictating lesson plans’ boundaries and making schools adhere to a strict test-based structure. Teachers used to have freedom of choice regarding lesson plans, but the government and state-level changes put undue pressure on the teachers and administrators to ensure their school’s high overall test scores. This carried a great deal of weight because it impacted the following year’s budgetary allotment.
There were new challenges in 2020, with entire curriculums shuttered to make way for virtual classrooms. Not only did teachers have to rethink their classroom models, but they also had to find ways of helping those who struggle with this new format while keeping the rest of the class on track. In the face of all these challenges, teachers continue to be heroes.
Ironically, this new distance learning model has brought people closer together. This shared global experience has given us all insight into how other cultures face the same challenges in this unprecedented era. By being in an online environment, the whole world has become like a community. Adults and children alike have a deeper understanding of all the essential factors contributing to a child’s educational success, such as proper nutrition, clothing, and shelter. Now the ability to communicate online has become a crucial tool not available to every student.
We live in a time when increasing obstacles prevent teachers from reaching their students outside of their classrooms, whether face to face or virtual. Many people are afraid and unsure about the future. Thus, it is more important than ever for teachers to motivate students to see the excitement that comes from learning. Encourage your class to hold group projects based on a common interest. Suggest outside exploration and remind them to ask each other for advice. Let the class take a vote, decide on the homework, and make class participation more interactive instead of doing the majority of talking.
One of the great benefits of technology is that it makes communication available 24/7. Let your students know that you hold virtual office hours outside of regular class times, and make sure they know they can come to you with any issues or concerns. Bring the parents on-board as well, especially if there are concerns that might affect a grade long-term.
Dr. Stephen Patterson was with the Orangefield Independent School District from 2002 to 2019. Outside of his career, he is an active and involved member of his community. Learn more about Stephen Patterson and his insights on leadership and education by checking out StephenPatterson.co, StephenPatterson.net, stephenpatterson.info.
Originally published at https://stephenpatterson.co.