April 21, 2020

Covid Conversations: Daniela Morin

Daniela Morin is an educator at the Eliot School in Boston Public Schools. Recently she sat down with E4E-Boston Outreach Director Leidy Quiceno to discuss her experience as a remote educator, and what needs to happen when schools reopen to restore students’ sense of safety.

A transcript of the conversation’s highlights can be found below:

Leidy Quiceno: What is a typical day for you as a distance educator? What does your classroom look like now?

Daniela Morin: My typical day starts early in the morning; I log in to Google Classroom and check email. Right now it’s all about communication and making sure students stay on top of assignments. An example lesson is in literacy our students are writing poems about topics they find interesting. I find that a lot of my students are writing about how scared they are about the virus, which is disheartening as an educator. What’s also concerning is that my students who need more tactile learning are not getting the supports they need right now. We don’t all learn by reading words on a screen and usually as educators we can differentiate how we deliver lessons in the classroom. So, we need to figure out new ways to differentiate.

LQ: How are your students doing emotionally?

DM: I work in an elementary school and there is generally a lot of confusion. They don’t understand what’s going on; they don’t understand the way the disease works and why we’re staying inside and need to social distance. Their routine has been greatly disrupted, and a lot of children rely on that expectation and routine to maintain their social and emotional health. Students whose parents work in essential positions like cashiers, grocery store stockers — it’s stressing the students out as they overhear conversations about this and it bleeds into their academic performance as well.

LQ: Yeah, with that said how is this impacting your students academically?

DM: Academically a lot of them are independent enough to keep their learning up whether it’s reading a book every day or reviewing math flashcards, but I worry about my students who don’t have access to these resources. As an educator we’re not able to deliver new content, we are reviewing lessons we have done in the past. We’re assigning work and giving feedback but we need to figure out a sustainable way to make learning happen.

LQ: What do you want decision-makers to do to get our students ready to learn when they return to school, and ensure any learning loss is recovered?

DM: Schools need to feel like a safe space again for students where they can heal and come to terms with the full range of emotions they have, and help them feel in control. Educators can help instill this in them. We also need to focus on delivering quality content and ensure that educators have access to resources to do this. As a district, I hope there are plans in place to help our most vulnerable students, including those who didn’t have access to the internet or a laptop during this crisis, so that we can implement the curriculum we need to get them ready for the next school year.

LQ: What is one source of joy or hope you have experienced recently?

DM: Just finding joy in the small things. For example, today I was reading my students’ poems and many of them are writing about summertime and how they’re looking forward to the weather and hopefully spending time with their friends again. And witnessing the small acts of kindness I’ve seen in my neighborhood, neighbors helping neighbors in this time of hardship and checking in on each other is really important.