This Sequestered Semester: The Loss of Hope and Purpose

Malala Yousafzai is my idol. As a teacher, I promoted her throughout our school by purchasing 300 “Ask Me About Malala” buttons. Each of the 300 students were tasked with sharing information with the school body about this heroic young woman. Malala almost gave her life in order for the young women of her country to receive an education. Her quote reflects the power of education during this Covid 19 sequestered semester.

As a retired teacher and a current vocal coach, I am privy to the viewpoints of parents, educators and students in this difficult time. What have I learned?

  1. Students, parents, and teachers are stressed beyond measure in the abyss of online education, class requirements, homework expectations and the unknown of future schooling.
  2. Hope and purpose are lost for both our educators and students every time a “professional” bloviates on television regarding the extension of stay-at-home orders.
  3. Federal and state legislators, who previously inserted their upturned noses into American education, are incredibly silent, shedding no light on this jagged path of educating our children via eLearning.
  4. Parents are in tears, teenagers depressed and teachers’ hearts are broken. Our college and high school seniors are devastated. Will colleges be closed? Are there jobs post graduation in this economy? Will mental health facilities be equipped to handle the next wave of illness?

Let’s contemplate some viable solutions:

  1. Do NOT cancel schools for the remainder of the year. Keep all options open: restarting schools with formal graduations taking place at a later date; schools opening with staggered schedules, allowing for social distancing; admin and faculty stepping up and creating ways to give their students encouragement.
  2. All classes, for this semester, should be pass/fail.
  3. Assignments must be creative and yes, fun. Stop all testing! Check for understanding in a less confrontational way.
  4. This semester is about surviving, not exponential learning. Obtaining any new knowledge under these conditions is short termed at best. Accept that as a given.
  5. Find ways to encourage and lessen the fear. The community, legislators and the federal government need to understand that job loss and illness are not the only caveats facing homes across the nation. The future of this nation, her children, are paralyzed in limbo, not knowing what destiny holds.

At present, the only light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train! Everyone involved with education needs to press pause, step back and reassess how to better support our children and their teachers. Hope and purpose are dying faster than the virus kills.

“RESCUE THE TEACHER, SAVE THE CHILD!” raises issues and identifies solutions for students, parents, teachers and administrators. Available at Amazon/Barnes & Noble.

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