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By In education, Hawaii

Turning Your Home Into A Classroom Is Not A Bad Thing

In a perfect, pandemic-less world, the most ideal educational setup is for students to be in a classroom with their teacher.

It allows for more active and engaging lessons to take place; physical space can be utilized more creatively; and important social and cooperative skills can be seamlessly baked into academic learning. Students can ask questions at the exact moment of confusion, and teachers can engage in a fluid back-and-forth with the class until clarity is reached.

The simple human acts of reading facial expressions and feeling classroom energy are powerful teaching tools, and that’s to say nothing of the obvious societal benefit of parents being able to work knowing where their children are and what they’re doing.

Distance learning, on the other hand, is rife with inequities regarding the number of computers per person in different households, discrepancies in internet connectivity and speed, and other home-related instability that gets equalized in a shared classroom.

Despite the growing chorus of sniveling Nostradamuses predicting YouTube will one day obviate traditional schooling, there are very real challenges to digital education that make a permanent pivot seem as impossibly distant as an electric car in every home, or the rail getting completed.

But we’re not in a perfect pandemic-less world, and we have to make do with the situation we’re actually in. This means distance learning will to some degree be a part of our lives, from elementary schools to universities…

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By In education, Hawaii

Why I’m Going Back To Teaching

If you Google “why I left teaching” you’ll get several pages of sad, frustrated former educators discussing the whirlwind forces that flung them from the classrooms they loved. Most of these articles offer a police lineup of the usual suspects: low pay, lack of support, personal and professional burnout. Virtually every teacher knows these characters well, whether they’ve left the profession or not. They’re familiar to me, too.

I worked in Hawaii public schools as a part-time teacher from 2010-2012, then became a full-time special education teacher from 2012-2014. I was an emergency hire – meaning I was enrolled in a teacher education program but hadn’t completed it – but by the time I was a fully licensed and qualified teacher, I’d had enough…

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By In education, essay

Numbers and Letters: A Day in the Life of a Special Education Teacher

“Two years.

It’s January 2014, and that statistic echoes around my head as I arrive at work. Two years is the average shelf life of a special-education teacher in Hawaii.

I’ve made it a year and a half at this middle school, but it’s felt a lot longer than that. I’ve worked during every break teaching ESY (Extra School Year) in the FSC (Fully Self-Contained classroom), and that’s to say nothing of the part-time job and full-time grad school schedule I’ve also been juggling.

I turn the engine off and sit inside my car for a few minutes to gather myself. I try to rub the exhaustion off my face, but it feels like I’m only spreading it around, like how a child attempts to clean up spilled juice with a paper towel. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere about feeling like a child when I’m here at work, but I let it go and heave myself out of the car. I try not to look at the gas meter…”

 

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