As part of a personal project, I have been photographing a friend (or couples) every day since January 1st of this year. I haven’t done much photographically in the past year so this is one way of re-honing my skills and doing a project that I have always thought about doing. However, in the past week, I decided to switch to photographing my educator friends and colleagues for the next week or two. It’s my own meager way of telling their stories regarding the sudden return to in-person instructions in Durham Public Schools (and other districts across the country). Today, my co-educator is a colleague of mine at the Southern School of Energy & Sustainability (Southern High School), Durham, NC.

What is your name? 

Honoria Middough 

What do you teach or do in the school system and what grade do you work with? 

I am a high school ELL-English teacher in my 9th year as an educator. 

What made you or inspired you to become an educator? 

I became an educator as part of a natural progression after working in youth and human service-centric fields.  I had a desire to share knowledge and continue helping youth more directly. I specifically became an ESL teacher because honestly, I wanted the students to see their reflection in front of the classroom and feel more confident in their abilities to learn a new language and change the world!

How are you feeling?

These days, I am feeling gratitude for all of the goodness in my life, but the good things are layered with feelings of overwhelm, hurry, frustration and anxiety. 

How do you feel about the sudden return to school buildings? 

I am very apprehensive about the sudden return to school buildings. It doesn’t feel like it is in the best interest of the students and families I serve as an educator.  

How do you think it affects or impacts the students’ learning? 

Returning to in-person learning so abruptly, after reaching the understanding that school would continue remotely, will have an overall negative impact on student learning. Particularly, in my opinion, this will cause an abundance of confusion for younger learners. Students were just reaching points where they began demonstrating success and flow with remote learning and now with 3 months or less before the end of the school year, we are asking them to readjust once again. Children are adaptable but it feels like this will be calling for them to adapt to this newest iteration of learning, inevitably resulting in loss of instructional time as everyone adjusts. It will also have an impact on their instructional atmosphere (i.e. potential shifts in teachers they have grown accustomed to, etc) at the cost of what I fear will be additional psychological stress as a consequence.

As honestly as you can, do you think it’s time to return to the building? If not, when do you think will be a more appropriate time?

I think returning to the building at this time is not in the best interest of: having time to prepare; mental wellness/physical wellness of students or faculty; nor is it in the best interest of observing emerging pandemic trends. Everything has its season and in that accord, a fresh start in August would seem like an appropriate time to return to the buildings. It would allow all of us to adequately prepare, wrap our heads and hearts around all that was lost academically, all who were lost among us individually, the new skills that were gained, the new lessons learned, and also, better equipped to leave this experience and enter the fresh new experience of a new school year, not a fragmented one. I wonder what we aim to salvage with our learners. I’m not sure I know exactly how to start.

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