A parade of more than a dozen cars passed through Brookswood. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)


‘I don’t know how teachers do it’: a thank you to Langley essential workers

Suspension of in-class instruction meant teachers had to adapt to virtual teaching

Teachers and staff across the Langley School District have been hosting community car rallies in April as a way to connect with students, but students and families have instead been taking the opportunities to express their appreciation.

Since the province announced schools will remain closed after spring break with instruction continuing virtually, teachers have been forced to get creative in how they engage with their students while still respecting social-distancing practices.

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Community car rallies have given the Langley school community a chance to connect with familiar faces since students and staff broke for an extended spring break on March 14 to only resume instruction at home virtually on April 14.

Schools were scheduled to reopen March 30, but spring break was extended by two weeks when the province suspended instruction to help curb the spread of a coronavirus.

READ MORE: THANK YOU ESSENTIAL WORKERS: Truckers facing long journeys alone in age of COVID-19

So Langley teachers set out to tell kids how much they were missed through car rallies, but instead have been greeted with cheers from their students and families as they thanked teachers along the parade route.

Since the start of April a third of schools in the district have now hosted a teacher parade.

One of the first convoys was hosted by Alice Brown Elementary on April 1.

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“We miss them and we care about them,” school principal Michael Carlyle told the Langley Advance Times. “We think about them every single day.”

Those sentiments were returned by Alice Brown students and parents who waited along the route with signs to show support.

Student Logan Weber’s sign said, “we miss you” while Mom Carly Favero stood next to him with a sign that said “so do we,” with a sad emoticon next to the message.

Later, on April 17 about 150 staff from four different Aldergrove schools rallied to host a car parade around the community.

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Teachers from Parkside elementary, Shortreed elementary, Betty Gilbert Middle School and Aldergrove Community Secondary decorated their cars with messages of hope before they took to the streets around the community to re-connect with their students.

But instead some teachers were moved to tears by the show of support they received from their students and families, said Chris Wejr, principal at Shortreed elementary.

Many students spent the morning making colourful “we miss you” signs, or ones with personal messages to their teachers.

A few parents held signs as a tribute to the impressive work of their children’s teachers.

One read, “I don’t know how teachers do it! I need more coffee.”

Since instruction resumed virtually on April 14 parents have had to step-in to support their child’s education from home, but before that could happen it meant teachers had to scrap what they had planned for the remainder of the school and work to implement a new plan.

“This new ‘normal’ meant scrapping most of what I had planned for the remainder of the year and starting from scratch. Although the skills I wanted to teach haven’t changed, I had to alter my approach,” explained Katherine Ashcroft, a Grade 7 English teacher at HD Stafford Middle School.

Like other Langley teachers, Ashcroft had to refocus and adapt to teach online. And like parents they are new to navigating this unprecedented crisis.

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“Teaching online has brought a whole new challenge to this ball game as my only experience learning online has been university courses, and those are not particularly exciting,” she said. “This new adventure has kept me on my toes, but so far (I think) so good.”

And the response has been good.

“My teaching partner and I have been very fortunate as all of our families have been kind, gracious, and thankful for the work we are putting in to create a fun and engaging online learning experience,” Ashcroft noted.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Langley grocery store workers serve amid COVID-19

Ashcroft isn’t using social media to engage with students, but rather online learning platforms.

Teachers now rely on video conferencing for face-to-face connection with their students, but Ashcroft doesn’t see it as a replacement for traditional in-class teaching.

“Teaching is pure relationship, connection, heart and soul,” she said. “Technology does a lot, but it does not replace the classroom by any stretch of the imagination.”

The District has never faced a crisis like COVID-19 but Langley superintendent of schools Gord Stewart said he is proud of the community for through this together.

“I want to thank all staff, students, and families for their support and patience,” he said. “I also want to say thanks to our community partners and essential service workers for their hard work in helping beat this crisis.”


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