Chelsee McClung is a Fountain Valley resident and seventh-grade math teacher.
You learned school was closing; then what?
When I got the email, my stomach dropped. I thought, “Am I teaching them from home? I don’t know how to do that.” I (told students) I just got the email that we are going to close and my voice was kind of shaky. … I had one kid that was like, “Yay, break!” But everyone else was going around to their friends and hugging them and going up to me; some were crying.
What were your main concerns?
For some (school is) their safe place. Their teachers are the ones they can talk to. A lot of them don’t have great situations at home. I didn’t know if they were going to be home alone. They have therapists (at school). I have at least one kid a day get pulled out to see a therapist.
What have you been doing?
I set up a YouTube studio in my house to record some notes. I have 130 kids, and I’m using four platforms to try to contact them. Out of my 130 kids, I’ve only really heard from 60 of them. I don’t know where the other 70 are or how to get in contact. Assignments are not mandatory in my district. It’s totally up to teachers’ discretion, which also worries me because I do not want them to go the entire time with no instruction. I post something with very clear instructions every day, but I (say) don’t stress out about it.
Is it important to keep teaching?
I think people in general need their routines and their structures. These kids are scared and have anxiety because they don’t know what’s going on, so I just want to keep things as normal as possible. I want them to keep learning math, but that’s not my main goal. My main goal is to just keep our sense of community, belonging, togetherness, and just doing something that matters and have them still working on something.
Has this changed your perspective?
I always work my hardest and try my best for the kids—try to make their lives easier and make learning fun, and I’m going to continue to do that. I don’t see this as a break. I don’t see this as anything other than I’m still working my hardest to educate these kids, connect with these kids, build a relationship with these kids, be there for them even though I’m not physically there.
Read more from this issue at orangecoast.com/together.