Averi M. Turner, a second grade teacher at KIPP Legacy in North Minneapolis, spent the first days of remote learning dropping off packets and technology for her students to make sure they had everything they needed. Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal

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Averi M. Turner teaches second grade at KIPP Legacy, a north Minneapolis charter school. Her school held in-person classes January 3 and 4 before switching to remote learning.

We went back into the school building for two days. I probably only had half of my students come back, and a lot of staff were out. 

We gave them Thursday and Friday off to prep them, to get all of our distance learning kits together. Then we started distance learning on Monday.

What that looks like for me: teaching from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., then getting together learning packets that were still at the school, and then dropping them off between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

I currently have 15 students. Only about seven of them showed up yesterday. Today, it was more. I’m hoping for better tomorrow, because everybody in my class has everything that they need.

“When we are online, they know that their teacher expects a lot out of them. That means cameras need to be on. That means we’re being respectful, that means we’re being appropriate, that means that we’re not in the chat getting distracted.”

second grade KIPP Legacy teacher Averi M. Turner

When we are online, they know that their teacher expects a lot out of them. That means cameras need to be on. That means we’re being respectful, that means we’re being appropriate, that means that we’re not in the chat getting distracted. That means I’m also getting support from families at home.

For me, I’m all for being in a classroom. There could be a lot of distractions that are out of my control at home. In the school building, I have more control over what’s happening with my students. For me, it’s just the uncertainty of what real life throws everybody. If grandma or dad or cousin has to go to work, my student can’t log on because they don’t have the support that they need. 

That’s my uncertainty as an educator: Will I see my students within this timeframe? There’s already a group of students where they have the technology, but they are not logging on. So something’s out of my control.

I would prefer them to be in school, where they can be students. They don’t have to worry about the outside world until they get home. I just love the fact that school is a safe space for them to come and just be kids, no matter what their age is.

However, if I was in my principal’s shoes, I would say that distance learning would be the best decision because there are a lot of factors that I’ve seen as an educator that play a role. You have to deal with staffing. You have to deal with busing. You have to deal with students. You have to deal with families. 

With only one class of course I would rather be in person, but looking at it holistically as a leader of a school, I would say distance learning is the best decision right now.

Becky Z. Dernbach is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.