Nothing signals a return to normal as taking our kids back to school after a hurricane. But, the truth is what happens between the time we all secure our homes and when our kids return to school (and even after return) often goes unseen. We forget teachers are parents too, and schools never really close.
It takes a huge village to get through a storm. But, what does that look like through the lens of a teacher? A principal? A parent? Or, a school board member? We asked these questions.
This is the second in a short-series on how storms affect education.
Today, middle school teacher Keisha Lopez shares what worries her, and how she’s planning to make up precious time in regaining academic normalcy.
Ms. Lopez, tell us about the last 2 weeks or you as an educator?
Aside from ensuring that my family and our belongings are well, I have been mentally and physically revamping lesson plans. I have a quarterly lesson plan or goals that I would like to accomplish. During and after the hurricane, I immediately began changing my plans. I’ve cut out and put in different learning strategies to get the results I am looking for. Will I need to re-vamp more? For sure! But at least I have a blue print.
What are you most worried about with getting back to school?
I am not particularly worried about getting the job done, but I am truly concerned that some students will be traumatized. Some may still be without the means to even complete homework. In order to get them learning immediately I will have to give them room to talk about their experiences in a supportive setting and then, hopefully, move on.
Also, remember, students are a microcosm of the world. I am cognizant of the fact that some students with the capability may use this situation to avoid doing their work. Because of that, I have a contingency plan to still eek work out of students until they get back on track.
Are you worried about the loss of class time?
This will not affect student competency or test outcomes of most students. Or, I should say I am not concerned about test outcomes at this point. Today is about the students and getting them back on track. This is just a hiccup in the process. We will all simply have to work harder. Kids are pretty resilient and this is where being a facilitator, a motivator and a cheer leader really comes into play.
Students already know the fundamentals. In each grade level we will build on what they already know. We have to find ways to encourage students to reach their maximum potential after setbacks like this. This is life, unfortunately. And, I know that once students believe that you believe in them, they will try no matter what. This is all we can ask for. Now if we have another traumatic catastrophe, then that’s another story.
What will be difficult for you? How will you compensate?
It will be difficult at first to get all students back on track. It will be like the first few weeks of school all over again. Some students will show up, others won’t. Those who return late will miss fundamental instruction, and I will have to find ways to give them the fundamental instruction while ensuring they don’t fall further behind.
My plan is to have lunch tutorials. Students who are behind due to absence, or just not grasping the classwork, will have a working lunch with me until we are confident that they are where they need to be. I cannot depending on them to catch up at home as there is no way for me to verify their households are in working order. But, coming during lunch is voluntary and it will help, if parents agree to it. If not, I will find another way doing cross-curricular work to get all students back on track.