Isauro M. Escamilla, Early Childhood Educator
San Francisco Unified School District, USA
I hope this email finds you well. I am sharing the Learning Story I wrote last month with the many insightful responses I received from early childhood educators near and far. Please, read it and see if there is a quote there that resonates with you. Or perhaps you'll find something worthy in this email.
As it turns out, my Learning Story encouraged other educators to reflect on their own reactions to the Covid-19 impact and their stance on distance learning for young children and those responses help me to realize that I belong to an early childhood community of thought leaders all over the world. The responses came from as far as Morocco, Hawaii, and New Zealand.
What I have learned from educators in New Zealand is that a Learning Story narratively intertwines the personal with the professional to highlight specific events that happen in the classroom or school settings with children. Teachers write these Learning Stories to create records or children's learning and growth over time. The children's family are usually the ones who respond to the story. In my case, those responses came from colleagues, professors, teachers, and educators who deeply care about children, families and other teachers.
Isauro outside Grace Cathedral, in San Francisco, which has remained closed since mid- March 2020
The Learning Story I shared with you and a few other educators captures what I was feeling at the time I wrote it. Prior to writing the Learning Story in times of Covid-19 I had shared those feelings in one our online class meetings with my professors and classmates. Talking about it was quite helpful, but the process of writing a Learning Story gave me the space and the framework to organize and label my thoughts and feelings amid the chaos brought upon us by Covid-19. More importantly expressing my thoughts and feelings in a Learning Story helped me to open up my heart and mind to multiple ideas, opportunities and possibilities. Learning Stories humanizes education in ways I never thought possible.
From a pedagogical perspective Learning Stories serves as an educational tool for teachers to reflect on a problem of practice and engage the immediate community or the community at large to get a better understanding of an issue, event, problem of practice, or question(s) impacting our profession and teaching practices. I'm forever thankful to educators in New Zealand for giving us this gift. I am also very grateful to each person who responded to the Learning Story I wrote because their heartfelt responses captured many differing perspectives, all of which helped me to get to a point where I can function better and engage critically with the important work I have at hand.
Currently, my work as an early childhood educator is to engage with children and families in a way that incorporates policies on distance learning put in place by the San Francisco Unified School District, the California Department of Education, and protective safeguards created by the teachers' union (UESF-United Educators of San Francisco). Our responsibility is to pay close attention to what is developmentally, culturally, and educationally appropriate for young children in regards to "distance learning" and to keep a sense of connection and community based on their and our emotional wellbeing.
Reading the entire Learning Story with the responses and replies from my community helped me in my own emotional growth and understanding of my stance on distance learning with young children. Now that I feel more emotionally grounded I can process things more clearly and I'm more engaged in the work I'm required to do as an early childhood teacher with children, families and other teachers in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The way the early childhood community responded to my Learning Story with so much empathy, compassion and understanding in the midst of the Covid-19 health crisis gives me the encouragement to share this Learning Story with others educators.
Thank you so much for allowing me to share this Learning Story with you. I'm also including a few photographs in case you need one to go with the quote. I took these photos just yesterday in front of the Grace Cathedral, here in San Francisco, which has remained closed since mid- March 2020.
Isauro M. Escamilla
Early Childhood Educator, San Francisco Unified School District
2016-2020 NAEYC Governing Board Member
Ed.D Student in Educational Leadership, San Francisco State University
Isauro's Learning Story follows. Click HERE for the PDF.
To read the heartfelt responses from friends and colleagues around the world please click HERE.