These days, it's easy for us to play the blame game about why our students are falling behind in school. “These teachers are not prepared”, “The school has not done a great job adjusting”, “my kid can’t sit still” - the list goes on and on. The fact of the matter is that the past year has been hard on EVERYONE! While as frustrating as it may be that our students are having their learning jeopardized by this global pandemic, it is important, now more than ever, that our teachers, school administration, parents, and community are doing all that they can to overcome such unprecedented difficulties for us all.
Bigs Tutoring was created to help not only the students that were struggling to adjust to a rapidly changing environment but also all other parties involved in teaching and shaping our future. It was clear, students were not able to learn as effectively online as they were in person, but who can blame them? They were asked to sit in front of a screen for hours per day while teachers who had previously built critical connections that fostered their learning were forced to abandon all sense of individual attention for the betterment of the group. I have personally talked to teachers who went through tremendous amounts of stress just trying to figure out how to help their most academically vulnerable students succeed. After all, that is the job of the teacher. They are the ones who thanklessly teach our students to be the innovators and explorers of the future. When students were forced to take their classes online, teachers were thrust into a world where their job had dramatically changed and almost everyone had no prior experience.
Behind these incredible teachers sat a team of education administrators who were also doing their best to reconcile the losses taken at the hands of this pandemic. In March 2020, these administrators sent students home because it was the only option to keep them and their families safe from a virus that at the time, we knew very little about. These administrators then needed to face the challenge of providing quality education to students who were living in unsafe situations, relied on school meals to survive, and so much more. For months, they scrambled to figure out solutions for these students because that is what people who care about their community do. We read stories of teachers doing incredible things over zoom for their students, but almost never do we understand the lengths that our own administration goes to in order to ensure our students’ safety and success.
While the decision to send students home was somewhat of an easy one, attempting to safely and effectively bring students back to in person learning is an entirely different story. Bringing students back to school and attempting to revert our education system to pre-pandemic mode is a task that will take the collaboration and mutual sympathy of students, parents, teachers, and admin alike. Teachers must be wary that many students have adjusted to online learning and coming back may take some time as well. Additionally, students must understand that teachers risk their lives and the lives of their families every day by coming back to school and recognize that while they only need to worry about their academic success, teachers need to worry about the academic success of hundreds. While this delicate dance is playing out, academic administrators must be patient with this process and remember that student safety is and will always be the number one priority. As we continue to open the doors to our previously locked schools, it is critical that we take a minute to recognize the perspectives of all parties involved so that we can make this entire process easier for all.
So, now when people ask why Bigs Tutoring was created, I don’t just say it was for our students. I say it was for our community because whether we realized it or not, this pandemic upended all of our lives and it is only through sympathetic understanding and patience can we hope to bring back the light into our students’ educational journey.