Story: What are your experiences teaching & learning in the time of coronavirus?
As our semester winds down, and I get a chance to breathe, I wanted to briefly comment on an aspect of this experience that has surprised me.
I went into this pandemic shutdown thinking that my biggest responsibility was to help the young people I work with maintain their sense of hope about the future. This is the second (albeit far bigger) crisis that this group has faced - I'm counting the 2008 financial crisis and recession as well, since many of our current students watched their parents struggle in ways they might not have imagined previously, and those who graduated at that time knew they were walking into a lion's den and are re-experiencing some of that trauma - and I was concerned that this experience might dramatically test their resilience.
I shouldn't have been.
The vast majority of the young people I work with have been simply forging ahead, aware that the situation they face upon graduation has changed, but remaining resilient and hopeful and optimistic. Of course this pandemic and resulting economic catastrophe have been and continue to be traumatic, and there are current and future consequences that will be political and environmental as well as emotional. But I've been awed by just how matter-of-factly the young people I work with have kept grinding through the changes. All have been dramatically impacted: some have found themselves asked to work lots of hours in their jobs at a groceries, drugstores, or warehouses, in situations that have overnight become both essential and dangerous; others have found themselves caring for siblings, neighbors, or cousins and running errands for older relatives who are afraid to go outside (and thus being unable to attend synchronous video lectures); many have had to adjust to learning online in a style that they have might well have avoided because they are far more comfortable in traditional classrooms. Almost all of them are finding their hoped-for paths altered in nearly-unrecognizable ways, and all of them (as well as us) are dealing with the intense grief that this has caused us as our once seemingly-stable world tilts on its axis.
My guess is that this experience will help them be even tougher and more resilient than they are now. I trust that they will use this experience to build a world that reflects this hopefulness and optimism, and I know that they have learned a lot about themselves, in ways that will help them continue to grow.
So thanks, and I pledge to keep supporting and helping to the best of my ability!
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