Through the eyes of a teacher

When my kids were young, they loved to listen to children’s entertainers like the Wiggles, the gang from Sesame Street, VeggieTales, Raffi, and Joe Scruggs. They loved the silly, upbeat music and crazy performances. 

The music was so well loved in our house that our daughter wanted us to call 9-1-1 when we somehow inadvertently lost our only copy of Joe Scruggs’ CD singing about being deep in the jungle. She wanted to cry bloody murder.

Two of my children are grown adults now and the third may as well be, he’s 16 going on 25. We’re well past silly, sing-songy voices and hijinks. My wife regularly cringes when she hears my son play his Spotify playlist and hears a word or two that she wouldn’t feel comfortable repeating in front of our neighbors. Yes, we’ve come far from the Wiggles singing about the yumminess of fruit salad.

Class is in session

However, I heard something the other day that instantly took me back to those long-ago saccharine, music-filled days. I was sitting in our living room when I heard my wife in the basement sing at the top of her voice, to the tune of The Addams Family Theme Song: “The days of the week [clap, clap], the days of the week [clap, clap], There’s Sunday and there’s Monday; there’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday; there’s Thursday and there’s Friday, and then there’s Saturday, the days of the week [clap, clap.]”

Of course, I immediately started to sing the song in my head and broke out into a huge laugh. I closed the basement door, but my wife’s voice still bounced around the house loud and clear. I should explain, it’s like this now in our house, most days, from 8 a.m. until late in the afternoon. My wife has been running her Life Skills class for K-2 students via Google Classroom since March, when her school shut down in-school instruction because of the Covid pandemic.

My wife had been working on our large kitchen table, since it allowed her to spread out, but with the start of a new school year and seeing that Covid isn’t going away anytime soon, she set up more permanent quarters, a mini classroom, with all the appropriate borders, decorations and posters, so-to-speak, in our basement.

Today’s lesson

I stick mainly to the first floor of our house, but I still hear little kid voices in the background. There’s giggling too and then my wife yells out, “Okay friends, okay friends,” her term of endearment for her students. “Who can tell me the sound the letter A makes?”

My wife then walks through the different sounds and encourages the kids to remember what she taught them the day before. My son, who is in high school, and has a hybrid model, meaning he goes to school one week and then works from home another, comes downstairs to grab a glass of water and a bag of Doritos and laughs when he hears the commotion.

“If you ask me, mom is having a little too much fun.”

A job turned upside down

My wife has always worked hard at her job. She puts in countless hours and has spent many an evening planning out her lesson plans. On top of that, she routinely spends hundreds of dollars each year on basic school supplies, since many of her students need more than what the local school district can provide. 

In many respects, her job over the years has become more than just a teacher, but a social worker, psychologist, legal expert, school administrator, parental advisor, data analyst, doctor, nurse, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, IT LAN administrator, and oh yea, mother, to her students.

In the months since Covid has hit, though, I’ve watched as my wife has taken her work to an even higher level. She works long hours preparing her online activities to keep her kid’s interest and creating extra video sessions so that kids who are absent or don’t have access, can catch up later. Her focus is always on making sure her students continue to learn and grow and don’t fall behind.

In the age of Covid

It’s not just my wife either. I know plenty of elementary teachers to college professors who have gone out of their way in these crazy times to make sure their students keep learning and growing.

So, when I saw online a mother complain about her son’s teacher, I was understanding. Heck, I get the frustration, I worry about my own son. Will all this virtual learning hold him back? Will he fall behind? Will he be prepared properly for everything that’s to come in the next few years?

At the same time, though, I couldn’t help but feel that the mother failed to see the reality in front of her face: that most teachers are working above and beyond the call and that our kids today are resilient and have the tools to overcome these challenges.

Yes, teaching has most certainly changed in the age of Covid. Let’s hope it changes for the good, with new options, and we can all get back to face-to-face classrooms in the very near future. In the meantime, though, I for one know that I have a newfound appreciation for teachers.

And oh yea, if you’re asking, my wife moved on later that afternoon from the Days of the Week to “If you’re happy and you know it” replacing clapping with various emotions and feelings. Oh teach them well.

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” –Benjamin Franklin

“What we learn with pleasure, we never forget.” –Alfred Mercier

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” —Henry Adams

“A good teacher is like a candle—it consumes itself to light the way for others.” —Author unknown

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