This past week, we introduced a task in ED 150 for students to interview a teacher. Students could choose any topic(s) from class they found interesting to include in the interview, and ultimately will make comparisons between what we have read in class and what a K-12 teacher experiences.
This project allowed for an opportunity for me to go through the motions as an example for students. However, in conducting an interview myself, I ended up receiving a needed morale boost after making a connection with a former colleague.
I worked with Nicole while I taught in New Orleans, and she was gracious enough to give me some of her time earlier this week. We caught up a little before officially beginning the interview. After asking a couple questions about her teacher preparation experience (a hot topic within ED 150), I began wrapping up the interview so we could get back to our virtual hangout.
However, after my last question, she added a remark that caught my attention and caused me to reflect after our call was over. She said, "...teaching is a profession that you cannot - I don't see how anybody can survive or thrive as a teacher without really building relationships with fellow teachers. It's just too emotional, it's too psychologically taxing to be a lone wolf, you can't be a lone wolf and do this work."
I am honored and humbled Nicole considers me a part of the community she can reach out to and lean on, and I realize that in order to move from "survive" to "thrive," I need to be more willing to do the same. The last couple weeks were pretty difficult, but looking back, the moments when I reached out to fellow classmates, graduate student workers, my advisor, and former colleagues to be the moments where the load felt lighter for a moment and I was able to take the breaths needed to push forward.
Distance learning requires the same connections within our various learning communities that traditional, face-to-face instruction relies on. We don't know how much longer all of this is going to last, but I am grateful to those in my professional and personal community I can rely on for advice, a laugh, or even a good ol' venting session. Thank you to those who have been that for me, and I hope our interactions have provided the same levity for you.
Cameron Dexter Torti is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Education at GGSE. He previously taught in classrooms ranging from elementary self-contained to high school social studies for six years in California, Texas, and Louisiana. He is currently "safer-at-home" in San Diego, where he and his wife are subletting part of the living room from their cats for "work from home" spaces.