Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
As we enter our 6th lockdown here in Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, I have found myself reflecting back on our first lockdown. It was incredibly stressful because we were entering unknown territory. Since then, we have learned more about what does and doesn’t work. We remain cool as we help our students pack their bags with only 30 minutes to prepare them for an indefinite period of lockdown. We know we can do this, even though we may not like it. We know that how we react will impact how our students feel about the lockdown.
At Nunawading Christian College (NCC) Primary, we have been focusing on being grateful in our worships this term and I have heard from my students that they are grateful for warm lunches, walks with their parents, time at home with pets, time for play, and not wearing uniforms or having to travel.
Of course, not all students enjoy online learning, especially students who depend on their friendships at school, do not have a sibling, have a disability, or have a difficult home life. Some students find it difficult to avoid distractions; finding a quiet place to learn and staying committed to their learning can be difficult for some students.
There are also challenges for teachers when teaching online. Students start chatting during class, distract others by fiddling with things, ask questions that you have already answered, or talk over the top of you. Some students log off when you ask to see their work. Parents are listening in on lessons, and while some parents support you, others don’t. All the normal issues are magnified when you’re teaching online.
Still, students are great imitators, so we need to be good role models by recognizing the positives of online learning. We have a wonderful opportunity to share Jesus with our school community. We have parents, siblings and extended family listening to our worships, Bible classes, and everyday interactions. There are also benefits for us personally, as we can dress more casually, do housework during breaks, and avoid commuting.
There are positives for our students as well. My students have advanced considerably in their use of technology and are becoming more resilient and able to solve technology problems. They have also improved at managing their time because of the need to log into our classroom meetings at the correct times.
Despite these positives, teaching during a pandemic can be very difficult. When you find yourself struggling with staying positive, it helps to find a colleague who understands, is trustworthy and loyal, and can laugh with you about your day and commiserate over the challenges. One who builds you up and encourages you. If you can, step up and be this person to someone in return.
Connect with your colleagues and with God. Pray for each other. Find a prayer partner and pray for your school, the staff, your teaching, the words you speak online, your creativity, and your relationship with God so you can be resilient and embrace each day.