In-person or virtual learning? A teacher’s message to the community


Debra Klevens

As a longtime teacher, I have been contacted by friends, family and acquaintances asking me to help them decide between choosing virtual learning or an in-person learning plan for their children. Like many parents, my head is spinning.

Do I choose the virtual option, for which a plan seems to be in place for my children’s education? Or do I choose the in-person option, for which staffing seems to be up in the air? We don’t know how safety protocols will occur and students may be in contact with their teachers only once a week.

Do I listen to my teenager, who is begging for some semblance of normalcy as she enters high school and would like human contact? Truly, I’ve come to believe there is no right answer.

Throughout each day, I can talk myself into and out of each choice. As a teacher of elective courses in convergence journalism, I see no choice but to return to in-person learning. The course I teach is specific to my school and my community. If I choose to teach virtually, I feel as though I am eliminating my own job.

In coming to this decision, I have tried to disconnect from Facebook as much as possible so that I do not lie awake in sheer panic about the unknown. Facebook for me is a rabbit hole down which I get sucked into people’s fears. The only conclusion I have come to is that we are all making compromises and sacrifices with whatever we choose.

Ultimately my advice to everyone is to know that administrators and teachers are doing their best within the constraints they are given. This situation isn’t ideal. We shouldn’t be attacking people for the educational choices they are making. This situation is not what any of us pictured.

However, I am choosing to focus on what I can control. As a teacher, I am choosing to spend my summer loading my curriculum to Schoology, an online learning platform. If we are able to learn in person, students will have the curriculum at their fingertips in case they want to review a concept, see a PowerPoint, etc. If and when we end up virtual, I am also prepared.

Life is about balance and taking control of what you can. There is very little I can control right now. I’m choosing to do the best I can with what I have.

As you embark on the back to school journey, choose to minimize your stress by focusing on what you can control. Try not to let fear take over your life. Minimize your time on social media. Instead, get out and enjoy what’s left of summer, and don’t forget to mask up so we can return to normal sooner rather than later.

We are all in this together. Let’s make the best of this not so ideal situation.

Debra Klevens, CJE (Certified Journalism Educator), has advised the national award-winning publications program at Parkway West High School for 21 years. What began as a yearbook career turned into an expansion into the online newspaper world nine years ago. Under Klevens’ counsel, the publications staffs have earned multiple national awards. Klevens is married to her husband, Michael, and is the mother of two daughters, Sydney and Zoe. Klevens is also a member of the Jewish Light Board of Trustees.