By: Katie Farkas
From the perspective of educators, the world and the way we teach and learn has completely changed. That was the focus when over 100 alumni from the School of Education at Adelphi, faculty, representatives from the S.T.E.P. program, undergraduate and graduate students all got together to discuss what they have learned at “Lessons Learned During COVID-19,” a virtual event on May 3 hosted by the College of Education and Health Sciences and the Alumni Relations Office. Participants all shared how they worked through the positive and negative changes that came along with the events of this past year and what it taught them. The panel of Adelphi alumni discussed topics like how they dealt with the stress of constant uncertainty, what teachers might have learned about themselves, and challenges and opportunities when it comes to equity and inclusion through the pandemic.
Common themes among teachers were that students struggled, socially, emotionally and academically. Educators struggled too. They have dealt with the ceiling fan view on Zoom, the pets, siblings and family special appearances, the nappers, the tiktokers, and the bad connections. A preschool teacher wondered if he would be able to keep the interest of the students while the availability of distractions is so high. The uncertainty that came along with this pandemic in the education setting was unlike anything anyone has dealt with before. Participants made it clear you can have a plan but plan to change the plan and learn to go off script because you need to do what is best for the students in front of you.
Jennifer Godinho ‘20, who graduated from the College of Education and Health Sciences, said, “We have learned this year that we must be flexible and meet our students where they are, and we must work to build strong relationships with students in order to support their success.”
Building relationships even virtually could truly make a huge difference in someone’s experience, both for teachers and students. Speakers spoke about how humanism is at the core of what educators do. It isn't just a number of students; they are people and they are human beings and we all have unique experiences. Teachers aren’t just pushing kids along, preparing them for tests. They give students an opportunity to speak and be heard and seen, whether it is on camera or in person.
“Covid-19 has impacted our professional lives and the lives of the students and communities we serve,” said Maddie Dressner, BA '13, MA '14 and an adjunct professor at Adelphi. “The responsiveness of educators in attendance to the social and emotional lives of their students, colleagues, and school communities was inspiring and energizing.”
It is through these opportunities that people build relationships and build connections. As an individual, you can’t do it all. These Adelphi alumni remind us to connect with other people both within and outside of our discipline, because we might need something extra. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually you will need to lean on others for support and this year has been no exception.
“Our gathering, albeit remotely, was spirited and energizing. Our shared conversations were positive and uplifting,” said Professor MaryJean McCarthy in the Childhood Education Program. “I am proud of and inspired by the resiliency, creativity and steadfast efforts of our alumni supporting their students' holistic growth.”