| By Traci Cothran |
“It might be corny to say we act like it’s Teacher Appreciation Week EVERY week here at Gale, but I’m saying it anyway: WE LOVE TEACHERS, LIBRARIANS, AND ALL EDUCATORS!”
I wrote that line last year, and this sentiment seems more poignant than ever, as educators have had to quickly adjust to the virtual learning environment, along with the myriad new and exacerbated issues that have resulted from this major upheaval. This novel coronavirus has laid bare the inequities of our K-12 system, and highlighted its shortcomings for our students most at risk.
The good news is so many people are rising to the challenge. Here in Detroit, 51,000 students received a computer thanks to a $23M investment by multiple philanthropic organizations. Principals are handing out free breakfast and lunch packages to families. Special Education teachers are finding new, inventive ways to fulfill IEP accommodations. Elementary teachers are driving in car parades around districts so the little kids can see their faces and feel comforted.
And teachers are once again displaying their mettle, not just in the new virtual classroom, but also in their social-emotional understanding. Some students are feeling the stress of having parents out of work; some students have ill family members or are sick themselves; and some students lack the executive function skills to stay on track with their studies at home. The challenges are varied and daunting. Kudos to the administrators who are offering pass/fail options for the first time for required classes; shout out to Mr. Taylor at my teen’s school for requiring my kid to play a game with parents or get 30 minutes of outdoor time each week as part of the curriculum; thank you to the elementary teachers who’ve conducted zoom yoga classes for their students to help them manage their stress. No one has all the answers, but with each effort, day by day, we are all learning and improving and doing the best we can.
At Gale, we find a little bit of comfort in this unprecedented, difficult time by knowing we offer products and tools that can help make teachers’ and students’ lives a bit easier. Our fact-based databases integrate into Google classroom and learning management systems, allowing teachers to quickly send relevant articles to their students. Students can easily research a subject to complete assignments – and they can select the language of their choice; click on the “Listen” button to have it read aloud; and increase the font size to allow for facilitated reading – and so much more. And our Cameron’s Collection of social-emotional eBooks are available to students to help them address mental health issues—including stress—and they’re available 24/7 and can be accessed discreetly.
At Gale, we know we don’t have the skills to create a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, but what we can do is support educators during this time, and continue to provide the facts, resources, and support that students can use to continue to learn and grow. That’s why we’re offering free access to several resources through the month of June, and we continue to provide the best customer support via video tutorials and helpful webinars.
To all the hard-working educators out there, please know that we applaud you for your continuous efforts to make sure our kids are learning, thinking critically, and have a sense of safety and comfort. THANK YOU!