Back in the Classroom
During my time in Oklahoma and teaching at Parkview Adventist Academy, I have had many new experiences. Every year has its challenges as you get used to that year’s students. Additionally, with every new student, the classroom dynamics change completely. However, nothing can compare to the challenge of COVID-19 and all that goes with it. In order to face this challenge and meet my students’ needs, outside-the-box thinking has become a necessity.
As summer came to an end and the fall semester loomed near, our school normally would have focused on minor details such as putting up bulletin boards, cleaning classrooms and hallways and making sure instruction materials were prepared. While these things still had to be done, a new component entered our to-do list in the form of clear classroom partitions for the students. We had a goal to make our school both safe and as free of restriction as possible. We spent many hours in the weeks before school began creating our own classroom partitions. However, all was not done and back to normal. Between the efforts of the school’s board, medical advisors and guidelines from the CDC, we needed to make some changes to how the school days would proceed.
Each morning before school begins, the faculty puts on facial coverings, sanitizes hands and takes their own temperatures. Then half of us meet parents and students outside to perform screenings for COVID-19 symptoms. Afterwards, we head inside, where we follow hygienic practices such as washing hands, using hand sanitizer and maintaining proper distancing. In the classroom, students can work from their desks without face coverings thanks to the partitions we created. Through these safety measures and with God’s blessing, we have thus far been spared from any outbreaks. For the most part, my students say they feel pretty safe and protected. Some students who haven’t made it back to campus have been able to participate in our school year virtually.
One development in our school which has been great, but exceptionally challenging, is distance education. While not a new concept, implementing distance education alongside in-class education was uncharted territory. In most circumstances we have been able to implement education for both operating simultaneously. However, it’s very taxing on the teachers and proves a challenge. In my classroom I have had both in-class and distance education classes going all year long, and it keeps me from boredom to be sure! While it is difficult, the benefits of being able to include these students who would otherwise not be able to visit and interact with their peers in the class are immense. Above and beyond everything else though, I am most proud of our students and their parents during this time.
Parents and students alike have been understanding, patient and helpful throughout the entire process of adapting to the changes in what we consider “normal.” Parents have been so patient during the longer waits to drop off students. Students have done better than I could have ever dreamed with wearing their PPE and maintaining hygiene. When any problems have arisen with technology, students and parents alike have been ready and willing to help and assist each other.
While the experiences of the past few months have been trying, I believe they have helped our students, their parents and the school personnel to grow more patient, understanding and thoughtful toward one another. In no way has it been easy, but God’s grace has sustained us and I feel He will bring good from these circumstances as He has promised.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.