Thank You Letter to My Kids’ Teachers from an Online Instructor

I’ve taught online for over a decade, although all of my online teaching experience has been with college students. I teach in-person, online, and hybrid, sometimes all at the same time. I know what it takes to teach adults in online environments and have had years of training and research that has prepared me to teach online effectively.

This year, much of what I knew about online education has changed…

I’ve been on teams who have conducted research on virtual learning and have read research from other colleges and universities, and one thing is clear: Teaching virtually now is NOT the same as teaching online in the past.

One major reason for this is that the students taking online classes right now are not doing it because they want online classes. They are doing it because they don’t want to get sick. So, they need different supports and different structure than traditional online teaching. They are stressed in ways that people are not normally stressed, and need supports to compensate for this.

So, if I am still learning and adjusting my online instruction for my students, after over a decade of experience and training in teaching in an online environment, how can we expect teachers to be experts in online teaching after one summer of training?!

I’ve grown to appreciate the elementary school teachers more than ever before. Both of my kids have been and continue to be in fully virtual instruction, kindergarten and second grade. Never in my wildest dreams did I envision my daughter’s kindergarten experience involving an ipad in our guest bedroom, turned distance learning room, but this is where we are!

I’m impressed with what they have been able to do. There are hiccups along the way, but they have done an amazing job making sure that there are opportunities for play, time to interact with the teacher and with classmates, and making sure they are not on their ipads all day.

I’ve studied and observed elementary school classrooms in the past, and the level of enthusiasm and engagement the teachers are demonstrating online is amazing. The kids’ physical education teachers show a level of enthusiasm and excitement that, I assume, can only result from a full pot of coffee. They cheer those kids on like they are winning the Super Bowl, and make online gym class fun for all kids, regardless of what items they have at home.

I’ve learned a lot from what these teachers have been able to pull off in such a short period of time. They’ve adapted, refined, and modified assignments as they went to make sure all kids could participate.

Teaching online is extremely time consuming, especially the prep work that is needed to get everything set up. I appreciate all that the teachers do and how quickly they respond to questions, concerns, and technology problems.

So, to all the teachers out there, I see you, and I appreciate the time, effort, heart, and energy you put into this virtual teaching. I know you are working overtime to get this done and that you would love to see these kiddos in person. None of us asked for this, but you have rolled with the punches, stayed positive for the kids and dealt with cranky adults along the way. Thank you for all that you do!

Jill is a born and raised Wisconsinite. She grew up just outside of Madison before heading to northern Michigan for college. Afterwards, she returned to Madison where she married her high school sweetheart, Micah, and earned her PhD in Educational Psychology. Micah and Jill live just outside of Madison with their two children, Levi (5 years old), and Alice (3 years old), and they all love sports and being outside. When Jill isn't enjoying the local Madison parks and activities with her family, she loves to play board games, and relax at home with family and friends. Jill is a busy mom, an active member in her church, and enjoys her job as an Associate Professor of Psychology for a small liberal arts college.


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