• Lara Littlepage

Faith, Hope and our Online Schooling System

Updated: May 17, 2021

It's been 14 months post Covid and the start of online school and as a motivated and dedicated teacher at an all-male secondary school in North Trinidad; I continue to feel overwhelmed by our present situation.

I am also a mother of 4 children, 3 rambunctious boys, and one girl, and I have watched their personalities change over the past year. The wind has been taken out of their sails, and their hopes and dreams? Immobilized.

Where has this pandemic left our youth?

Primary levels 1 to 5 and Secondary forms 1 to 6? Our student population (and parents) has given the government 14 months to figure things out. Our kids have sat back and sacrificed for their elderly and adults with comorbidities. No school, no contact sports, and definitely NO LIMING! Are we allowing their sacrifices to be in vain? These kids have gone from waiting patiently to growing silent.

A cynical young person is almost the saddest sight to see, because it means that he or she has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing. ~ Maya Angelou

These developing voices have forgotten how to talk, share opinions, laugh and problem solve with classmates and teachers.

Our kids are becoming unmotivated and disengaged.

It is at this critical age of adolescence that we learn how to grow academically and more importantly, socially, and these students have been robbed of this opportunity for over a year, and from the way, it looks, for another year to come.

Notice I have not even mentioned the fact that many of our students are safer in school than in their homes. Our kids also watch hopelessly as their parents struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table.

Self-Care and building self confidence

I often ask students to rate their feelings on a scale from 1 to 10; 10 meaning they are feeling at their very best.

When you have students rating themselves a zero, it is very troubling.

As I continue to teach my online classes daily, every day is a struggle. Maybe 10 percent of the students take part or somewhat respond during live classes. Interaction amongst peers is nonexistent.

I have increased my own self-care through home exercise, jogging (well, not anymore), and yoga and have worked really hard at sharing this avenue for self-care with my students. But I continue to feel as if I am swimming against the current.

Students United 2021

With the help from other teachers across the nation, we worked to develop the idea behind StudentsUnited 2021. A virtual 5K race to help kids remain somewhat engaged. The idea behind StudentsUnited is to save the student from depression, fear, and anxiety by keeping them active and mentally fit. They are encouraged to exercise, go for a brisk walk, or even a stroll. The intensity does not matter. We see the need for our children to get away from the screens and out of their bedroom, even if it is just for half an hour a day.

But from yesterday(May 16), they are again told to stay inside. This is a direct punch to the stomach as some were only just venturing out of their shells.

Please share the data on how outdoor activity has caused an increase in cases of Covid? How many adults who exercise 3 to 4 times a week have died of Covid? Or filled the beds in the parallel system?

Have the policymakers spent any time encouraging healthy eating choices and exercise? StudentsUnited is a force helping students understand the importance of healthy life choices, and encouraging students to stay active, get outside for some fresh air, some vitamin D, and allow for the release of the happy hormone (endorphins) as this release is not happening otherwise. A year in and we are back at the lowest point. It is exhausting!

Faith or Hope?

This morning I followed an online yoga class, and the instructor shared the difference between FAITH and HOPE. Hope leaves space for fear, anxiety, and disappointment. Faith has no room for any of this.

Do I continue with online teaching (probably for another 7 months) in Hope or Faith that our students will find back their voice and will recover from 2 years of little interaction, anxiety, fear, and no guidance on self-care? I have my doubts and so I carry on in hope.

Thank you Teheli for allowing to use this avenue to reach out.

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