An Arizona Master Teacher’s Reflection On Education In the Times Of Covid

Just a month before Covid hit and soon emptied K-12 classrooms, Arizona's Master Teachers were celebrating their accomplishments.

By Catherine A. Barrett

Continuous learning, hybrid learning, and blended learning are terms utilized in defining teachers’ return to school by March 15. Online learning occurred between the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and this period where teachers are required to return to school, to their designated classrooms. However, students are granted the option to participate in remote learning.

The opinions regarding the return to classrooms proposals vary, with some vehemently opposing it. For instance, teachers disagree with each other, citing the overplaying their hand in letting students suffer through distance learning. There are also lingering questions concerning teachers’ silence over time, with reasons such as a fear of retaliation and isolation being cited. Teachers point to the fear of their contracts not being renewed and the subsequent “blow back” from not engaging in group think. In my opinion, this is quite unbelievable because this is a free world. Teachers should be heard, and after this, a return-to-work framework that favors them should be put in place.

Those supporting returning to classrooms, especially parents, argue that the right to accessing proper education was violated through remote education. Furthermore, individual learning strategies were not adequately addressed, resulting in the plans becoming ineffective over time. This resulted in substantial learning disparities between students. My opinion, based on the above, is that the option of remote learning should not be granted to students since the learning plans may not work.

In conclusion, I concur that teaching is a calling. Therefore, the debate concerning returning to classrooms should involve heavy consultation with teachers to formulate an appropriate return-to-work strategy. This will require cooperation from teachers and parents, and will be vital through the start of the healing process. However, I oppose the idea that those viewing the task as hard should quit their jobs because we need everyone’s input for an adequate return to class strategy. Therefore, instead of them quitting, they should offer ideas to facilitate learning in a post-Covid world.

Catherine Barrett is an Arizona Governor’s Master Teacher and currently Chair of citizens initiative petition, A Classroom Code of Ethics For Public Schools K-12. You can find her on Twitter @ReadersLeadPD, and on Facebook at Yes4Ethics

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