The work-from-home situation has lasted more than a year. During the pandemic, almost everything has been moved online, including education. This has been especially challenging for ESL education. We teachers needed to quickly learn technology and adapt it to meet our students’ needs. Our students have had to deal with technical issues in the language they are learning. But, at the end of the day, we all managed, and managed well! Here are a few lessons from my year-at-home.
Fears Are Okay
I started a new class last September and finished it at the end of June. I never actually met my students in person. Over the course of ten months, I cried and had meltdowns many times. I was scared because I thought I couldn’t handle the technology, the challenges, and the students. The amount of stress was just unbearable. Then, things started changing in a good way. I realized that thoughts create feelings. All the negative thoughts I had since the beginning had been giving me all sorts of negative feelings, and fear was one of them. I decided to talk to my students about our fears concerning online learning. That was inspiring. We all discovered that fear exists regardless of where you are and what language you speak. Once we were open with each other and able to communicate, our fears gradually disappeared, and we felt better. I think this is what exactly David Hawkins says in his book (2018).
“We all derive great benefit from liberating ourselves out of a fearful inhibition into successful functioning, because that learning process automatically spills over into many other areas of our life. We become more capable, freer and happier and with that, there is an inner peace of mind.”
Challenges Push Us to Move Forward
There were challenges for both me and my students. As a teacher, I learned not only how to use all kinds of online tools, but also how to translate this knowledge into simple procedures so that my students could understand how to use the technology. My students not only dealt with learning a language, but also with the “online stuff”. I kept reminding myself that some of my students might have never used email, Google or any other “online stuff” before they came to Canada. During the learning process, we all often felt frustrated. However, the students went from not being able to log into their Google Classroom, Google Meet and Google Forms to now being able to help show newly enrolled students how to use those tools. At the end of the term, a few students told me that they have learned a lot from the challenges they had had. They told me: “Teacher, challenges good. I don’t know. I ask. Then I know. And I learn.” And this is what exactly I should tell myself: Challenges push all of us moving forward.
It has been a tough, yet a fulfilling year for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, a teacher, a manager, a volunteer or anyone, the fear, stress, and challenges are the same. We all had down times, but now we are rising. We learn from our mistakes and move forward. This is a year that changed education forever. We are all adapting, and we have managed it. What I have learned from the year of the pandemic is that fear is ok. We can acknowledge its existence and let go of it. Challenges are stressful but are not a bad thing to have. They push us to learn more and grow faster and better. This is a year that changed everything.
What lessons have you learned from teaching during the pandemic?
Hawkins, D. R. (2018). In Letting go: the pathway of surrender. essay, Hay House, Inc.