California Educator

April/May 2020

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"We're resilient. We're passionate. We're dedicated. We will be here for our students." —Minc Robinson Brooker, Monterey Bay Teachers Association OVERRUN WITH EMOTIONS T A N YA H U N T , a teacher at Grant Elementary School in Eureka, is "heartbroken" to think this could be the end of face-to-face learning for the school year. She found out on a Sunday that schools were closing in Humboldt County. She went into her empty classroom the next day to retrieve belongings, and became "overrun" with emotions as she stared at empty desks, thinking of the class projects and a field trip to the symphony she had planned. She put together home- work packets quickly and waved at students while parents drove by to pick them up. Hunt lives with her sister and co-parents three nieces. When her sister goes to work in an office that tests for COVID-19, she is in charge of the girls at home. She makes sure they do exercise and schoolwork. Recently they made homemade ice cream and considered that a culinary class. Now she is connecting with her students via ClassDojo and Google Classroom. Students send messages that they miss her. She sends math assignments online, but students are not being mandated to do them, and she is not mandated to grade them. But that could change, of course, says the Eureka Teachers Association member. CHECKING IN ON NEW TEACHERS M I N C R O B I N S O N B R O O K E R , an education specialist who teaches social studies to stu- dents with mild to moderate disabilities at Seaside High School on the Monterey Peninsula, texts and emails students and parents. She communicates with students on Google Hang- out to see how they are coping. Exuding reassurance comes naturally to Brooker, the secretary-treasurer of the Monterey Bay Teachers Association (MBTA). In recent years, she has faced serious health problems, including recovering from a stroke, and can't afford to get stressed out by things beyond her control. She is encouraging others to do the same. "I have had a couple of seniors who are very, very concerned and have reached out to me. They said they just wanted to cry. I let them know how much I care about them, that I am here for them, and that we'll get through this together. One student asked if I would still be willing to teach and instruct him, and I said yes. Then he felt less stressed and anxious." Brooker, along with her union colleagues, is also checking in with teachers, especially new teachers. "Some may be a bit more overwhelmed with this. It's already been a challenging year for many, so I am connecting with them to let them know I'm here for them and the union is here for them." MBTA is keeping members up to date through emails and Facebook posts regarding negotiations about working from home and what distance learning may look like. Teachers are up to the challenge of helping their students under these adverse condi- tions, says Brooker. "We're resilient. We're passionate. We're dedicated. We are here for our students." An educator's life during the pandemic. 17 A P R I L / M AY 2 0 2 0 Tanya Hunt Minc Robinson Brooker

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