LAKEWOOD, Wash. – Education, a cornerstone of society, turned upside down by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
I sat down with Abby Robb, a Senior in WSU’s education program who is spending her final semesters at home. Semesters she would’ve spent in elementary school classrooms, preparing to launch her teaching career.
She offers a unique perspective into the current state of local education as it continues out of the classroom, online. And she’s not mincing words about her situation.
“I feel like definitely I got cheated in a way from this experience,” Robb said.
She says she has missed out on crucial experiences that would’ve better prepared her for the situations she’d face in the classroom.
“Right now I’m learning a lot about how to teach online and resources are available to help students learn online and what I’m missing is that classroom element. And so if things in our world return to normal-lets say, by next fall-now I’m equipped to teach online but I’m afraid I will not be equipped to teach in person. I will not be equipped to have 20 students in my classroom at a time,” she said.
She says the kindergartners she’s worked with are facing increased challenges, beginning their educational careers in a non-traditional setting. This start she says, will have a lasting impact beyond virtual learning and kindergarten
“I think one of the major drawbacks especially for the younger students is the lack of foundational knowledge that they might not return to the regular classroom with.”
“First graders right now, they missed half their kindergarten year where they were learning these foundational skills for education. And now they’re in first grade, and those first grade teachers are having to rebuild that knowledge that they missed last spring,” she explained.
“I think we’ll see, in the next couple years, students who are very behind in where they should be,” she said.
And even though the odds may be against them, her kindergartners are undeterred.
“They are so excited to be at school. For students who didn’t even get to go to preschool in the past-which was a lot of the students at this school, they don’t go to preschool. This is their first time going to school. And so they’re still just so excited.”
Everyone has been pushed to their limits over the past eight months. Parents especially have been vocal about their skepticism of a virtual education. But to those parents full of doubt, Robb is asking for a little bit of grace.
“We’re all trying our best. Every teacher wants their students to be successful. A lot of teachers feel like they did lose their job-or at least the part of their job that they really liked, which was connecting with their students,” she said