There are so many unsung heroes we can identify during this time of fear and anxiety brought on by the COVID-19 virus. However, I would like to highlight one of the many unsung heroes we sometimes take for granted: teachers. Teachers are one of the most highly educated workforces, yet sadly one of the less compensated for their contribution to our society and culture.
What has transpired in the past few weeks has been nothing short of a miracle. Our secondary education system has entered the cybersphere. They were given the challenge of taking their existing educational material and modifying it for long-distance learning without much, if any, preparation. Online learning has forced teachers to quickly discover new ways of educating our children, and the transition had to be challenging. Talk about taking someone out of their “comfort zone.”
Parents, despite their computer literacy, have to support this new way of learning for it to be successful. There can be no separation in the teacher-parent relationship in a school desiring to be effective in this new way of learning. Parents control the environment. They support setting the pace, providing a physical space intended for learning. They are, at times, the cheerleader on the team, encouraging teachers and their children in the absence of daily face-to-face physical interaction with the teacher they were accustomed to in the classroom.
The role of a parent and teacher is different. While a teacher serves as a guiding force in subject matter, a parent knows when to lean forward and lean back on their student’s online virtual experience. They offer support to the learning structure and reinforce the goals and objectives of the learning experience.
Despite the unrelenting support from the parents, there are additional complications for the teachers. Many teachers are teaching from home with a cast of new co-workers that include their children and very possibly their spouses. These co-workers add another layer of difficulty to an already formidable task. I encourage the community to reach out and say thanks to all our unsung heroes, but most especially our teachers.
Dennis Reilly, Ph.D.