Guest Post by Kim McBryar
Here we are…. It’s December and we’ve been dealing with Covid-19 for what feels like a decade. We have all rearranged our lives in ways we never thought possible. We teach kids from school while they are online at home. We have our groceries delivered. We do curbside pick up for “eating out”. Nothing is normal. Everything is stressful. All anyone really wants to do is visit a place or person they’re missing, have a bite to eat INSIDE of their favorite restaurant, and not wear a mask. Instead, there is a constant feeling of “what’s next?”
What Can I Do To Be Better?
I’ve decided that instead of looking at things in terms of “what’s next” to look at them in terms of “what can I do to be better?” I have sought out people and opportunities. I have made countless phone calls home to talk to parents just to see how they are feeling and how they and their kids are handling online learning. I have written off assignments and given full credit to undone work because let’s be honest, the mental health of our students is far more important than a Google Slide. I have asked parents how I can make their schooling at home experience easier and more positive. I have been able to gather such wonderful information that will help me to be a better teacher for my students and to help ease their minds and their parents’ minds.
Making Global Connections
Something else I have done is connect with teachers outside of the United States. One teacher, in particular, is in India and his students call him Hari Krishna. We connected earlier this year. We discussed the impact of Covid-19 on our students and our communities. I have learned that I am blessed. My community isn’t overpopulated. The people nearby are educated enough to understand the magnitude of the situation and are willing to help mitigate the spread of Covid-19. He, however, is living in a community where people are packed tightly together and many don’t wear masks. His students are spread out over a large area and he wasn’t sure how many were doing.
As we have continued to communicate, this kind and dedicated teacher asked me to make a video of the landscape of my area. He wanted to give his students the opportunity to see the United States, even if it was through the computer screen. I was able to share a video of a beautiful summer day at a baseball field in rural Pennsylvania, an empty baseball field where kids should have been playing. It was sad but beautiful and peaceful. His students appreciated the video and enjoyed seeing a place that is very different from what they are used to seeing when they look outside.
Hari Krishna recently invited me to join a Zoom meeting with his students. His goal was for his students to connect with an American teacher to learn about the United States first hand and to learn about the content that I teach while practicing their English.
Our first attempt to connect was a failure due to a poor Internet connection in Hari Krishna’s area. Our second attempt was successful. It was 6:00 PM Sunday his time and 7:30 AM Sunday my time. When I entered the meet, I was greeted by beautiful, smiling faces of students, Hari Krishna, and a teacher in Italy, Michaela.
I had 40 minutes of questions from students. They were so respectful, asking questions about the capital of the United States, favorite American foods, Covid-19 conditions in my area, and STREAM (my content). I wish the session had been longer and I wish I could have been the one asking questions. I wanted to get to know the students. I wanted to ask about their families and their culture.
It’s a Small World, After All…
The world shrunk in those forty minutes. We talked about the struggles we are all facing with online learning and teaching. Although we are thousands of miles apart and have completely different cultures, we are all feeling the same. The Italian teacher said it best and I’ll have to paraphrase, “We are all human. I love every person, no matter the color, religion, culture, whatever. We are all in this struggle together. We need to support each other.”
“We are all human. I love every person, no matter the color, religion, culture, whatever. We are all in this struggle together. We need to support each other.”
About the Author
Kimberley McBryar is a teacher, mother, wife, and budding author from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A K-6 STREAM teacher, Kim has made it her mission to put Maslow before Bloom while respecting the need for growth and mastery in education, especially now during the trauma of Covid-19. Kim holds a master’s degree in education and teaching certificates in elementary education, middle science and social studies, high school history, and reading specialist. She would like to become a professional development leader and professional author.