Lessons Learned During COVID-19: Gaining Wisdom from a Family of Teachers
by Dale Reeves
Dave and Trish DeVore have been connected to Christ’s Church for a long time, as a couple for 34 years! Trish’s family belonged to this church even longer than that. They have enjoyed being able to worship with the church online the past two months during our “stay-at-home” directive, as well as other virtual opportunities for more times of worship and directed prayer—but they have greatly missed the face-to-face fellowship with other believers. Some of the blessings that have come to them as a family during this season have included more time spent with family, as well as a call to slow down, realizing that not every day has to be a “punch list” day consisting of lots of things that need to be accomplished.
Dave and Trish have missed not only the time spent with their church family, but they have also greatly missed the time they would have spent with students the past two months. Dave has taught for 27 years in Kings Local School District, where he currently teaches language arts and social studies to fourth graders at J.F. Burns Elementary. Trish has been in the teaching profession for 29 years, and she currently teaches language arts to sixth graders at Mason Intermediate. They have passed on their love for teaching to several of their kids, including Sierra DeVore Paine, who has taught for eight years, and teaches language arts to seventh-grade students at Mason Middle School. If you do the math, that’s 64 total years of teaching experience from which we can glean some wisdom.
I asked Dave, Trish, and Sierra to talk about the greatest challenges during this pandemic. Dave responded, “For me the greatest challenge has been to utilize technology with which I had little or no prior experience. Instruction with students or meetings with colleagues that had been done in person now had to be done through a Zoom conference, email, or text message. These forms of communication were more cumbersome and less effective for me. Easily, the biggest challenge was the lack of personal contact with people. Connecting with students by providing instruction, feedback, and a sense of worth and connectivity could not be effectively accomplished remotely. School for some learners is their ‘happy, safe place’—gone in the remote learning scenario.”
Trish echoes Dave’s concern for students who love coming to school because it is their safe place. They both shared their hearts for students who come from very difficult or even abusive homes. Additionally, Trish remarked, “I really, really, really missed my students. I am a hugger and I miss the shoulder squeezes with kids, as well as having one-on-one conversations with them, and hearing their stories. I have missed the personal interaction with my friends and colleagues. And, it has been very difficult to maintain the quality of instruction that can be provided in the classroom. It has also been tough to gauge how my students are really doing not just academically, but emotionally and mentally.”
The greatest challenge for Sierra has been both a blessing and a bane. She and her husband are raising two beautiful children ages two, and not yet even one. In a word, Sierra says, “My greatest challenge has been balancing work and motherhood. At the same time, one reward from this situation has been getting bonus time with my own children.”
Sierra says that even through the challenges of teaching online while spending time with her toddler and baby, she enjoyed getting to meet with her students virtually. “One of my greatest rewards was hearing one of my students say that our virtual meetings were the highlight of his weeks.”
Dave shares, “One of my highlights was seeing several of my students be able to continue learning independently. And we realize that family is really a gift from God. We have had a ton of time to spend together and thankfully we all have gotten along.”
Trish concurs. “Family time is precious. We hang out as a family a couple times a week and have had a lot of indoor and outdoor family game nights. Other blessings for me have come through seeing some parents become more involved in their children’s lives, connecting with them in ways they may never have known they were missing. And I have been able to meet with a couple of my students one-on-one in my virtual office, helping them read without any of their peers knowing that they are growing as readers as a result. That has been a huge win!”
Greatest God Moments
Sierra comments, “God has been doing some amazing things through what we have been able to watch on CCLive. Our two-year-old son has loved the children’s lessons presented by Miss Shawn and Miss Heather. My husband and I have missed our participation in our CORE 52 group. We enjoy growing spiritually with our friends in that group and are ready to be reunited!”
What has God been teaching Sierra personally during this season? “Patience, discernment, and how critical it is for us to trust him.”
Sierra shares one of her favorite Bible verses along with her dad Dave:
Proverbs 3:5, 6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all ways submit him and he will make your paths straight” (NIV).
Dave comments, “What’s going on in our country and the world defies our understanding. It is so important for me to trust God in all this (to varying degrees I do so—depending on the day and what I’ve seen or heard).”
Trish shares one of her favorite passages of Scripture from Isaiah 35:2-4:
“They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come, he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution he will come to save you” (NIV).
Trish concludes, “God has been teaching me to slow down, to fully rely on him, to listen for his voice in the quiet, and refocus on his will for our lives. God is in control and is stronger than any force we may be up against in our country and the world.”