Guest post by Mariel Brie Taylor, Director for Digital Curriculum in Orange County Public Schools.
I am deeming today, “Be nice to a public school employee day in Florida”Why? Because today the majority of districts in the state return from Spring Break and begin to work in a distance learning format for the first time.
Make no mistake; teachers take the brunt of this as they create new lessons to be delivered online from their home. They have an enormous job as they prepare to make lessons sooooo clear that a student can complete online or using some form of offline work with limited direction or maybe the support of a parent/guardian. This is a feat considering many students need frequent help completing assignments and lessons in class minute-by-minute! I have been stunned already by the creativity of teachers and the innovative ideas they bring to the table to reach our students from virtual read aloud story time, to virtual birthday parties- wow and that was over Spring Break! Teachers truly never stop helping kids.
But they are not the only ones who need your support…
School administrators will need to figure out how to lead their staff remotely, which in some cases can number more than 100 people at one site!
School counselors will need to figure out how to reach students remotely in creative ways since some can’t be easily contacted!
School instructional coaches will need to consider how to help teachers plan lessons remotely!
School athletic coaches will need to consider how to keep their athletes engaged and prepared from a distance!
School food service workers will need to consider how to feed students who aren’t there or can’t drive to school to get lunches!
District office staff will need to train thousands of teachers in just days to do things like teach with digital tools that may have taken months before, while fielding thousands of questions from parents, keeping staff calm and trying to make this transition seamless and comprehensible for all!
And yet others paraprofessionals, therapists, etc will all be finding their way in this new reality.
“If you never understood why public education matters and the impact it has, I hope you do now.”
All of this will happen while public education staff are home or on the front lines, worried about their own health and that of their loved ones and colleagues. They will do all of this while helping their own children and grandchildren, who are also public education students in preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, and even college learn to navigate distance learning lessons from their own teachers.
We will reshape the education field in ways that will ripple throughout a generation in just 12 days of school school being closed. If you never understood why public education mattered and the impact it has, I hope you do now.
In many ways, it feels like the first day of work, at a new job, for an entire industry and they need you!
So. whether you agree with the plan or not- doesn’t really matter. This isn’t the time to discuss that.
Take the time this morning to scroll through your friends list and contacts and reach out to those who work in public education today. Send them a text, video message, email or even a cup of coffee from Uber. Tell them you are thinking of them and you believe in their unbelievable ability to reach kids in the face of adversity. Tell them you are there for them and no one expects this to be perfect. Give them grace, peace of mind and motivation.
It just may be the most important thing you do today for someone.
Posted with permission from Mariel Brie Taylor, Director for Digital Curriculum in Orange County Public Schools. To find a list of resources to help you supplement learning at home, visit our Parent University Online page.