Administrator’s Corner: Distance learning balance, teamwork

Published 8:00 pm Friday, May 8, 2020

Administrator’s Corner by Christine Quisley

Christine Quisley


As I look back over the last several weeks, it is at times hard not to fall into the trap of thinking, “OK, survived that one.” Because I, like many of my teaching colleagues and friends, want to do more than survive. I want to know that I have things under control and that my students are still learning at high standards and understanding the lessons I present each day. I know, wishful thinking. As I think about all that is involved in the process of teaching online, I know there is a balance to everything and that finding the balance is the key.

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Full disclosure, I’ve been an online student and online adjunct professor for several years. However, that is at the college/university level, which has similarities for teaching K-12 online, but still many more differences. No matter how prepared we may feel as teachers or students, there will be times that we feel like the candle is being burned at both ends. During these times is when we have to rely on those around us to help us with the management of the learning.

As I think about it, all teams have good plans and capable players. They are there to assist us and at times take over when we are not able to be there, you might say be our relief teacher. In the case we are facing this year, however, I think this needs to be more than just managing the roster, filling in the blanks and making sure your child has access to the learning. It is about our students understanding the learning.

In my 25-plus years of teaching and learning experiences, I can say I’ve never relied on families this much to assist me with the learning process. As an educator I have always felt like this is what I’m here to do; I educate. My mindset has had to change from home time being family time to now home time being everything.

Given our current situation, our lives have flip-flopped. In some cases our students are never leaving home, they only see us through a small screen for maybe one-tenth of the time they usually spent with us. Family members are not a big part of the team, they are the team and we as teachers, paras and administrators are becoming the assistant or relief team. When I say families, I do mean the whole family. I know that siblings are helping siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and of course parents are all joining in the educational process. Thank you for your time, your effort, for putting other things on hold in your life like never before, all for your child. Trust me, it has not gone unnoticed.

My colleagues and I miss hearing and seeing that spark of excitement and even the productive struggle within your son or daughter. This is all part of the learning process. Learning without some confusion or frustration is all part of learning; when there is little to no struggle it means you already have a known piece of information or fact. We need to take what we know and connect it to what we don’t know or are trying to understand. Find the connection, the pattern or the balance within the process to help the learning become clearer and continue building understanding.

As we continue through the weeks ahead, know that I’m here, my colleagues are here, and please reach out to us. We chose to be educators as our profession. We enjoy the learning process with all of its ups and downs. We understand your uneasiness and wondering if you are doing what needs to be done. Keep reaching out to us as we are going to keep reaching out to you. What we are accomplishing within this period of distance learning is shaping our world like never before.  Thank you all for being part of the positive team process as we continue to find our balance.

Christine Quisley is an Albert Lea K-12 math specialist and a Southwest Middle School teacher.