April 27, 2020

When Two Weeks Becomes a Semester

Kendra M. Burns
Three children sit together at a table on a laptop while a caregiver looks over their shoulders

In this story from the front lines of remote learning, a school registrar and her husband, a teacher, find a balance between educating their students and their own children.


Last month, on March 13, 2020, it was decided that the high school where I work as Registrar would be closed for two weeks due to the novel coronavirus. We had been prepping for distance learning at this point for approximately two weeks. Having been a classroom teacher for fifteen years in grades 6-12 before moving into my current role, I was nervous for other teachers, including my husband.

What would this look like for educators planning lessons, assessments, and project-based collaborative opportunities? How would novice educators learn to record themselves teaching concepts or sharing screens? Were the companies that created Zoom and Loom videos prepared for the exponential increase in use and productivity? School office educators would also have to recreate the way in which they worked. We were used to walking across the office to meet with each other and discuss academics or registration for the following school year. Now, we too will create agendas, schedule online meetings, and use other online tools like Slack to correspond quickly.  

Put simply, it was going to be far more difficult to work from home than to be on campus or in the classroom every day. The relationships that are strengthened by daily interaction would be stressed by distance. But educators are flexible. We adjust. We make it work. It’s always done because it is what’s best for the children.

Moreover, my husband and I, both educators—as I aforementioned—have three young children at home. We are not only preparing for our own responsibilities, but also receiving lesson plans and creative ideas from our children’s teachers. In fact, we receive three sets of these every day. We have gotten creative with their schedules. We balance their workload with ours—integrating time outside in the fresh air with indoor academic or non-academic time. We answer emails, prepare lessons, and continue with our work long after they have gone to sleep at night to accommodate the demand of our roles as educators. And we have been doing it for longer than just two weeks. Many states have closed schools for the duration of this traditional school year, so we will still have a journey ahead of us. If you are looking for additional at-home experiences for your children, the number of websites that have provided lessons and interactive opportunities is amazing! To name a few, Google Arts & Culture features over 1200 leading museums and archives for children to explore. Scholastic Magazine has a “learn at home” program. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails out to children a free book each month up until age five. There is also an entire list of education companies offering free subscriptions. If you go to kidsactivitiesblog.com, you will find such a list.

As a nation, a community, a group of educators, parents, and life-long learners, we can adapt to this situation and succeed. After all, at age 87, Michelangelo once inscribed the words “I am still learning” on a sketch and is credited with this famous saying.

Kendra M. Burns
High School Registrar

Visit GoGuardian's Distance Learning hub for more stories like this one and for resources to support your schools during closures.