By Andrea Kowalski-Rospierski M.Ed.
Not many people enjoy waking up early for school. The day to day routine of classes, work, meetings, and sometimes watching the second hand move on the clock becomes tedious and tiresome. Weekends become much wanted breaks in which we can lounge in comfy clothes, binge watch Netflix, and catch up on those home projects we’ve been meaning to finish. Teaching is a meaningful, impactful, stressful, and a difficult profession. It provides many opportunities to get to know and work with numerous and varying people, both students and colleagues. It is also both rewarding and trying, which made me sometimes look forward to just getting out of my classroom, off campus, and away from the stacks of grading that sometimes felt unbearable. However, as I have found out over the course of my life, the powers that be or whatever you want to call it, had their own lesson plan for me.
Just before spring break it became apparent that the whole Coronavirus thing that we had been hearing about in other countries was in fact going to soon become our reality. There were a few cases being reported in south Florida and we were told to have at least two weeks of lesson plans ready to go in case we had to self-quarantine. I figured we would at least make it to spring break before school was closed, but instead we closed down the week before. I wasn’t exactly upset about the early break, but since this has turned into the best school skip day on record, I’ve seen the error of my ways.
I’ve never wanted to be an online teacher. I’ve taken online classes both in college and throughout my teaching career and have never really been much of a fan. Now that I am an online teacher running a digital classroom, as opposed to teaching in my school, I have even more so realized that I prefer, with just about every fiber of my being, to be in the classroom.
Teaching online, to me, is partial teaching. My students read the material, do their assignments, and complete quizzes. We even have an occasional Zoom meeting to discuss topics within our curriculum. Seeing my students on my computer is nice but in no way the same. What I miss most and what is most difficult for me, is the complete lack of socializing within my school community, the human aspect of pedagogy. As an educator, there is so much more to my profession and my craft than simply disseminating information and skills to students. It is building relationships, forming bonds, and understanding the individuals in my classroom. Making the transition to online teaching from a content and curriculum stand-point was not difficult for me. However, I know I will continue to struggle with not being able to see my students each day. I miss, truly miss, each and every one of them. I feel like we have again been forced to tout our adage, “MSD Strong.”