Educators embrace remote learning

Derrick Lee Pollock, an FSU professor seated at his desk. Photo by A-Chai’a Jackson

On April 3, a letter was issued from the office of Florida A&M University President Larry Robinson to the FAMU community regarding university business operations during the coronavirus pandemic in compliance with directives from Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Temporary restrictions were put in place for continuing on-campus operations.

Antonio Witherspoon, a FAMU faculty coordinator of student records in the Registrar’s Office, explained how working from home did not alter his normal work ethic.

“Working from home feels almost normal. Except for my desktop computer now turning into my laptop, I continue to follow my daily routine in completing daily tasks,” Witherspoon said.

From responding to emails, running reports, completing projects or trainings, it still feels slightly normal, he said.

“We still have office meetings, but via the Zoom application now. I’m still able to serve and connect with students remotely with the same level of excellence with caring as I would in while in my office,” he added.

Educators have followed orders to maintain relationships with their students and to administer their normal curriculum and teaching styles.

Kevin Hill, a sixth- and seventh-grade teacher for Miami-Dade County Public Schools and two-time FAMU graduate, explained how he has maintained his daily routine.

“I am currently employed by Miami Dade Public Schools. where I currently teach sixth-grade U.S. history, and seventh-grade civics. I have always used technology as a means of teaching to my students. It keeps kids engaged,” Hill said. “So, during this pandemic, it was a daily routine for them to still get an adequate education, and still have fun.”

“An instant pandemic didn’t have to teach me a valuable lesson to not take life for granted. Life shouldn’t be taken for granted, regardless of any circumstances. That’s why I live everyday like it’s my last. Cherishing those in my life daily. This major shift has taught me to always be prepared for anything and expect the worse to happen before. Anything will get better. All the while, staying humble and grounded in my faith,” he added.

Derrick Lee Pollock, a Florida State University alum and professor at FSU, says the expectation that things at home should be the same protocol as in the classroom is unrealistic.

“My only saving grace is that my wife is here, so we are kind of able to work together. I read something the other day that said we all need to remember that we are not simply working remotely from home. We are at home, during a global crisis, with our families, trying to work from home,” Pollock said.

“Overall, in my classes, I would say that I have made sure that I have eliminated anything that would be considered busy work. Any work that we have done in classes, I try to make sure it is relevant and reflective of our current situation. I never attended FAMU, but I did used to work there, and I truly learned a lot about myself. But one thing I learned was to speak up when something isn’t right or should change and I do that now. Currently I have made sure to offer suggestions to leadership and volunteer to take the lead in things I would normally decide not to in the past,” Pollock added.

Essential faculty and staff will continue doing their work under state law guidelines; to protect themselves and the schools they serve, responsibly until prompted to do otherwise.