May 5, 2020
Missing someone is your heart's way of reminding you that you love them.
The hearts of the teachers that care for and educate the children in our communities ache as they teach to empty classrooms or screens. Teachers are missing their students, and their students are missing them. Although physically distanced, teachers like Kerra Cartwright at Young School are doing everything they can to carry over the connections they have with their students inside of the classroom to the distant learning virtual environment.
Connections often help us navigate our own paths. Mrs. Heffernan, Kerra’s 2nd grade teacher, and her Mom, also a teacher, inspired her own interest in pursuing a teaching career. One of the most special parts of being a teacher is the interaction with the students. “I miss it. I don't get to hear their stories every day,” Kerra said, “they aren’t at my feet at story time, I don't get to see them when they finally figure out a word - these are just a few of the moments that we are heartbroken to miss out on.”
“We all feel the same frustrations,” she continued, “we’re used to seeing the smiles on the faces of our students when a light bulb goes off and we aren’t having those experiences right now. Technology has often served as entertainment for children and hasn’t been used for learning purposes. Distance learning is new, and for the younger grades, it’s hard.”
Kerra and her colleagues have spent a large part of their planning time creating activities in an application called SeeSaw to send out to families. The activities focus on math, reading, writing, science and social/emotional exercises for physical motor breaks. Google Hangouts has also been a vital piece of the puzzle for the emotional connections for students. Kerra said, “they are used to spending 7 hours a day with their classmates, and look forward to sharing with them, even if they’re on a screen and not physically with each other.”
Kerra is one of the fortunate teachers who will get to have a lot of her students next year. She will get another opportunity with them and she won't have to say goodbye which gives her hope.
“I’ve been a teacher for 21 years,” Kerra said, “and we survived when Young School closed in 2003. We were heartbroken, relocated and uncertain of the future. We’ve faced a major crisis before, and our community came back stronger than ever. We can get through this too.”