• Magen Rodriguez

The Pulse of Remote Teaching

As educators of specific content areas, working in silos became part of our everyday lives. We planned solo and once we entered our classroom walls, we could literally flip on our comfy shoes because our workspace, our learning space, was our home. I cannot count how many times I stayed in the school building past work hours tidying up, organizing, preparing, coloring, laminating, and posting in my classroom. It was my castle that I built for my students to learn and engage in and with. When COVID-19 swept New York City, from one day to the next, my school home was banned for entrance. It was a somber time. COVID-19 forced me to expand my teaching home and reach towards humanity for that feeling of safety and comfort.

Though I have dedicated plenty of time to my own pedagogical duties over the years, I also became a teacher leader rallying teachers to think big, reflect culturally, and design intentionally. At the time, I was the World Arts Department Leader. My team consisted of a group of powerhouses ladies full of artistic, cultural, and experiential expertise. We represented all the arts, music, and language educators in our school. I remember clearly jumping into a group chat with the team almost immediately after we exited the doors for the last time. We just wanted to understand what was going on, vent, and feel like we were together. We quickly shifted our platform from text to Google Meets, to now, Zoom Meetings, not only venting through the process, trauma, and responsibilities, but thinking of our kids. We refer to our students as our kids because they need us- now, more than ever! I can’t give Lana her daily granola bar in the morning. I can’t give Alan an inspiring comment to help him keep building his doodle stories. I can’t give Tasha a hug goodbye before she has to commute to an empty home. It’s been painful and emotional. Yet, our team keeps thinking about our kids.

As we work to develop our curriculums full of rigor, metacognitive exercises, academic standards, and the full gamut of checkbox requirements, we have collaborated our efforts in thinking beyond benchmarks to thinking of our kids. We consider not just how to get them to engage with Spanish language or music notes, but we question how we can help kids access the tools they need. We consider how a kid can produce a self-portrait with very limited tools. We consider how we build in a break time without explicitly naming it a snack break for those who have empty cabinets. We consider how the English language learners will read their schedules in PupilPath without us by their sides.

I care about my kids but I have learned that I also truly care about my colleagues more than I ever have before. Stuck in my silo or hiding in my classroom, I would only say “Hi” and catch up in the shared gendered bathroom or while I walked to my next meeting. Now, we seek one another. We breathe together. We share and we are growing together. We are breaking down our walls and reaching out to human minds, hearts, and souls. We are the pulse of our schools- both physically and figuratively.

*Student names have been changed to protect identities and honor confidentiality.

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