The coronavirus quarantine has in many ways put the world on pause. While in many countries the lockdowns have relaxed and life is slowly starting to return to what we recognized before the virus struck, things are still different. In many countries, people’s work and education have been put on hold while the virus runs its course. This has caused issues for everyone but many are dealing with the problem in a variety of unique and wonderful ways.
Schools, in particular, have been affected. While teachers continue to send classwork to their students and in some cases are trying to conduct classes online via digital channels, it is clear that productivity has slowed. This places a huge burden on students who were getting ready for final exams before university. While decisions are still being made how best to deal with this upset it is amazing to see the short term solutions used by some students and teachers.
The rise of video conferencing solutions has been one of the greatest positives of the virus. In the past, many people avoided these technologies but are now realizing the possible benefits of using them. However, not everyone has access to high-speed internet in their home and it is creating an imbalance in the education system. While those with high-speed connections are often still benefiting from full classes, those without are not. A number of teachers have resorted to phoning their students to have one on one discussions about parts of their course while continuing to send them things to work on.
A story has now emerged about one student who was working on an algebra problem. Rylee Anderson is 12 years old and like many of us in the past, was struggling with her math homework. She had been tasked with graphing the algebraic function and it was incredibly confusing over the phone. What could she do?
While many people may simply tell Rylee not to worry and that we will look at it when things go back to normal, her teacher took a different approach. Rylee’s teacher is Chris Waba, he has been teaching for nearly thirty years and in that time had never given up, he was not about to let a pandemic stop him either. Chris actually lives close to Rylee so he decided to grab a whiteboard and walk to her house.
From there he explained the algebra problem to her from the porch. Rylee remained inside to align with social distancing recommendations but was ready with her notepad and pen in hand. The coronavirus has in some ways actually provided an opportunity for students who were struggling to keep up with their peers to do some extra work. In places, with large classrooms, students who fall behind can often get left behind. The pandemic has provided a chance for them to spend a little time working on any problems they may have. With the right support environment, they could return in line with their peers.
Some people say that teachers have it easy. They get long summer holidays and have short office hours. The truth is very different. They are underpaid, work very long hours (when you include grading homework, preparing classes and extracurricular activities) and have to deal with children all day. It is not an easy profession and one that likely requires a passion for teaching in order to survive.
It is clear from the stories that have emerged during the coronavirus pandemic that the majority of teachers have this passion and will do anything to help their students no matter how tough the conditions are. Chris Waba is a fine example.