In any crisis, one wonders if they are evaluating the situation with as much depth, zeal and alacrity as they would on a typical day. As a teacher approaching my 9th year in public school education, I have gotten to the place where I anticipate student misconceptions, pre-empt them and set students on a course for active engagement in science. At times this meant being a mentor, extended family member and confidant to my students. Today, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine, I am challenged with teaching the complexities of science while remaining personable… via the internet. My name is Nathalie Deller and I am learning.
By God’s grace, I have always been computer savvy. The transition into teaching online was pretty smooth for me and started with me considering all my potential assets. What apps might be helpful for visualizing science? How might I keep students engaged? However, as time progressed I needed to be more reflective. How will students continue to tune in while they are home amongst their siblings, their toys, and the very entity that we build this experience on, the internet? How do I hold students accountable? How do I appeal to their socio-emotional needs? Do I have enough emotional strength for this?
Finally, a month and a half later I find that the most important assets to have are faith, humanity and kindness. When a student who has been actively engaged suddenly isn’t, there’s more to it than missing assignments. I continue to pray for my students but I find myself praying with greater specificity. We are collectively experiencing loss in unforeseen ways. The greatest obstacle to overcome is the distance the internet places between us; we can hide our faces and perk up via email. At the same time, I am realizing how strong these young people are. With many losses, they continue to push through each and every single day. Therefore, I am motivated to be there for them with as much depth, zeal and alacrity as I possibly can.