The Educational Journey through a Pandemic
By: Mario Silvino Trevino, St Mary's University
Covid-19 affected everyone and everything. With no real warning, many people and organizations were completely unprepared for the challenges of a pandemic. One such institution that was faced with these challenges was the school system. We saw that on each level of the educational journey, there now formed a need for change. Schools, teachers and students now had to adapt if they wished to work towards their education. A few changes that were the result of the pandemic include the sudden need for a new classroom setting outside of in person classes, the creation of a way to supply kids with meals and technology they no longer had access to and take a peek at how teachers dealt with these changes.
The first instance in which we saw a need for change to occur involved the classroom. With in-person meetings no longer being a viable option due to Covid, schools needed to develop a way in which they could still meet and share information between students and teachers. For me, first as a high school student and then as a first-year college student, zoom meetings became the new go-to setting for class meetings. With the mix of zoom and other education apps such as Google Classroom, Canvas, and Seesaw, we now had the tools for what would become the “new classroom” that got us through the early years of the pandemic.
The next major shift that occurred in schools dealt with the school supplies. Schools had to find a way to meet children's technological and nutritional needs while simultaneously keeping them home and safe. In a similar sense, college students had to find a way to get the new technology that was required for certain classes. From online books that contained their homework to apps that would allow them to perform their labs from their house, these now became necessities that many schools were not prepared for. Another problem that needed addressing was the lack of food some of these students now had to deal with. With schools being closed some students lost their only access to what was sometimes their only two meals of the day.
Educators had to make tremendous changes to their teaching just like the students they taught. Teachers and professors were just as blindsided by the pandemic as their students. They faced their own unique learning curve, because for many they had never used some of the applications or technology that was now necessary to hold class and continue teaching.
The educational journey for many was affected by the pandemic. But now as we begin to approach what we can hope to be a “new normal” we must look back and analyze the changes we made to educational institutions and the process. While some of them may have been simply useful for the time being, some of these changes such as the use of sites such as Google Classroom or Canvas to centralize the location where students can go for help or the creation of programs that allow students access to technology in their homes may have been for the best. Determining how we can continue to better schools with this new gained experience will be a valuable next step as the pandemic eases.