Middle School Counselor's Insights On The Student Pandemic Experience
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We're going to hear from a middle school counselor now. Kim Tran (ph) is responsible for the social and emotional needs of her students, and that can be difficult when she can't check in with them in person. But through text and video calls, she's figured out how to assist middle schoolers through the pandemic. In her sessions, the question she hears most might surprise you.
KIM TRAN: My kids will still always ask, when are we going to go back to school? So they're - I don't know, just holding onto some bit of hope that we could go back to normal.
MARTIN: But for Kim Tran and nearly 800 students in her Bay Area public school, normal is a long way off. They are two months into distance learning, and Tran is still figuring out how best to support her students.
TRAN: One thing that really took me by surprise is just, like, kids not wanting to be on video. So it's, like, OK. Everything out in social right now is 30 seconds or less (laughter). So to have your face on camera for an extended period of time just magnifies middle school life in a nutshell of just feeling uncomfortable in your own skin, trying to find your own voice and trying to find your identity. And they're just missing out on all of those basic day-to-day interactions that are pretty crucial when you're kind of learning to be in your own skin.
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TRAN: They don't text each other. They don't call each other. I don't think half of them have each other's phone numbers. But I think they see each other on social (laughter). So they would just maybe send messages through DMs or Snapchats rather than have full-on conversations via text or on the phone.
Oftentimes, when I'm, like, meeting with kids through video chat, eventually, you just start seeing the camera, like, veer up towards the ceiling. It's, like, OK. I think they're starting to feel uncomfortable with the fact that somebody is staring at them, you know? Whereas when you're in a physical space, your eyes can just start wandering elsewhere.
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TRAN: If I'm thinking long-term, this pandemic, this part of distance learning is just barely scraping the iceberg of the work that educators are going to have to do for the next several years. There are so many, like, repercussions of the time lost that we're going to have to brace ourselves for when we kind of get back into the groove of things.
MARTIN: That was Kim Tran, a middle school counselor in San Mateo, Calif. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.