Crossroads of Education: Talitha Wiedman

Talitha Wiedman 2nd Grade Teacher South Side 

When and how did you hear about the Covid-19 pandemic?

I heard about it as February neared an end and my sister-in-law and mother-in-law geared up for a trip to Israel.  As they were abroad I paid even closer attention to the developments that surrounded the Covid-19 pandemic.  

How did your role change when schools were closed?

When schools were closed my role shifted from teacher to “teacher mom” as I was working from home with three of my own children age 7 and under.  Aside from balancing work with my role of motherhood, my role of a teacher looked drastically different.  I had to assess basic life needs and necessary resources that my students and their families needed from afar.   

What did you and/or your school do to support remote learning and the needs of students?

As I checked in daily with my students and their families I attempted to not only assess their academic levels, but also their overall mental health, life stressors, and the amount of resources they and their families needed to maintain a successful and healthy life during our stay-at-home order.  I used an online platform to provide daily videos, announcements, and a line of communication.  I would have texting conversations with my students’ parents filled with tips and tricks.  Although not present at school I was available for my students and their families a good portion of the day, every day. 

What was the biggest challenge?

One of the biggest challenges was trying to find a balance for all of my families because the world is a messy place and we don’t all live in a perfectly boxed world.  We were all in the same storm, but in very different boats.  Trying to find a way to make things equitable during a time like that was quite interesting. 

What was the biggest frustration?

My biggest frustration was with the amount of time that I felt my own children had to take the “back-burner.”  Many times they had to wait on Mom to finish a conversation, post a video, etc.  Teacher’s kids are going to be resilient and quite self-sufficient after all of this passes.  

Were there new things that you learnt about/for your role?

I became a much more Google-savvy teacher.  From my previous district, Brownstown CUSD 201, I had ample amount of tech training.  But, technology has evolved in the past 4 years, so I had to brush up on Google items and Zoom.  

What did you realize that you take for granted?

Hugs and high fives.  I am a person who loves to give high fives and hugs, and many of the students in 2nd grade reciprocate.  Not being allowed to do this is a struggle and I often wonder at what cost. 

Are there things that you might appreciate more after the pandemic ends?

I appreciate every second we get to meet for in-person learning.  Even when tired, I will not complain about having students in my presence.  I also appreciate the 2nd grade team of teachers.  You would not believe the amount of support we offered each other.  I will say we have to be one of the most collaborative, team-oriented grade bands.  

What are things that you learnt during the pandemic that you think will carry forward into life post-pandemic?

Every minute, every second is a gift.

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