A few weeks ago, my fourth graders would probably have been very happy if we announced that there would be no school for some time.
A few weeks ago, I joked with my teacher colleagues at our primary school about how nice and relaxed a school without students would be.
Today I take it all back.
Four weeks before Easter, we wished ourselves Happy Easter- as a precaution. The children took their stuff home. We could not yet guess what would happen on the emotional level in the next few days.
The headmistress put on a confident facade at our school. We didn’t let ourselves get driven crazy. We discussed with our colleagues how we want to behave in the next few weeks. Our main premise: We take care of our students and their families in an appreciative and sensitive manner. We “see” them even if the school remains closed. We remain personally addressable for all of them.
We do not think of drowning them in duties. We do not send the children a “package” of tasks they have to do. That would be unfair: Due to the precarious situation, some parents have no time to help their children. Some don’t even understand the content itself. But above all- since when has school only been about content? It’s about holistic education!
For most children, the question now is whether grandma and grandpa are in danger. They wonder when big and small people can move around freely again. Whether the ice cream parlor will ever open again… These questions are more important to children that the next page in their writing course. Their parents may not be able to answer these questions either. But they can listen and encourage their children. Children do not need grades now, they need affection, love and trust from us. And for that we have to keep our feet on the ground.
In the crisis, everyone forms closer bonds. We celebrate heroes at home, who now have a lot of things to arrange, solve and save in a multitude of areas. Parents are now particularly needed? But they are not substitute teachers. We support family whose parents work in systemically relevant professions by looking after their children-day and night. Children have got our phone numbers in order to receive our video and voice messages. They write in their diaries to have a better grasp over the situation, to have even the slightest shot at overcoming it. Some teachers even read bedtime stories to their students.
The crisis is a great opportunity for us, teachers, but also for all the students to think about how we want to organize school in the long run. Now we can design, think, argue, be creative and learn a lot about ourselves. That is what independent learning truly means.
Is homework fair under other circumstances? Do we want to continue learning digitally? Is school about questioning performance- or rather about ensuring children’s emotional stability? Shouldn’t schools be better equipped?
I think it is clear to everyone that we have never looked forward so ardently to the beginning of school. Then, we can finally discuss everything…
Gustav Beyer- Germany