The New “Norm” of Education

The world as we knew it is changing everyday, making precautionary measures to ensure the safety and health of our country. Curfews are being put in place and enforced. Restaurants have changed to a drive through or delivery format. Grocery stores are limiting the number of customers that can be allowed in stores during a specific time.

But one of the most extreme and very different change has been in the field of education. It’s an almost eerie site to see school doors closed and empty courtyards that were once full of students, but that doesn’t mean that education is not taking place. The new “norm” of education is completely different for many, taking many students and teachers into charted waters. Most schools and universities have been closed for several weeks, and some have cancelled their schools until next year. But that doesn’t mean that education and learning have stopped. It has just taken a different format.

Thanks to the Internet and many educational sites, teachers are still able to connect and instruct from the safety of their own homes as “stay at home” orders have been enforced around the state and the nation. Students are still given the opportunity to learn through the laptops and phones, and companies such as Verizon, C-Spire, and other major communication resources are contributing by offering free Internet services so that everyone can have the opportunity to learn and connect while staying safely at home to prevent the spread of CO-Vid 19 that is a threat to everyone.

But as living rooms and kitchen tables have turned into classrooms and offices, many teachers miss the atmosphere classroom and the “in person” connection with students so ensure that the students understand and learn. For many teachers, it has definitely been a learning process in itself.

Laurel High School math teacher Donna Smith prefers the “old school” method of using an overhead project and the personal connection with her students. She would much rather be standing at the front of the class giving instructions on Algebra equations and calculator procedures, but she has been adjusting to this process so that students will not fall behind in their studies and will remain safe during this uncertain time.

“It has definitely been a learning process for me,” Smith said. “This is a new territory for me, but I’m learning right along with the students because I want them to stay safe but still continue to learn. Although I do prefer my overhead project that my fellow teachers tease me about being outdated, my students know that I am here at my laptop to answer any questions they might have.”

During this time of a very different educational element, not only are the students and teachers learning about this new process, but parents are learning how to be teachers as well. While schedules and routines are no longer the same, parents have a great responsibility to offer assistance so that their children do not get out of the habit of learning in a structured format.

Educator Joshua Seabrook offers some advice to parents to help during this very unusual time.

“Now more than ever, parents need to be involved and present whenever they can,” Seabrook said. “It’s helpful to set up a schedule to follow so that students do not fall out of the routine of the school environment. If parents need assistance during this time, they should be assured that they can reach out to their children’s teachers because they are always willing to assist in any manner. It’s important for the parents and teachers maintain an atmosphere of open communication so that they feel comfortable asking for assistance and any questions they might have. I would definitely encourage parents to continue to teach their children respect and good behavior during this time so that they will continue to respect the education process and to push their kids to do as well as they can.”

As a former athlete, Seabrook reminds parents to not neglect exercise and physical activity. He suggests that parents also encourage athletic abilities but to do so in a proper and safe manner as according to the state and national health mandates.

This new “norm” of education is quite different than most of are accustomed to but we are very blessed to have the technology to connect and help future generations to continue learning and growing in their educational careers. So definitely embrace this new “norm” until students and teachers are allowed once again to enjoy the traditional educational process.

We are all in this together, and we are much stronger when we unite as one. As so many devastating times in history, this too shall pass, and we must keep the faith while following necessary precautions to keep everyone safe.


Written by Judy Smith

Judy Smith has been a freelance writer and photographer for several magazines and publications around the South, including Social South Magazine, Our Mississippi Magazine, DeSoto Magazine, Deep South Magazine, Country Roads Magazine, among others. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Paralegal Studies, Master’s of Science in Mass Communications, and PhD in Communications at the University of Southern Mississippi. And Judy Smith is proud to forever be a Mississippi Girl.


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