Teaching Through an Equity Lens During a Pandemic! Is It Possible?

As a virtual teacher, you now have to consider the ramifications of asking students to have their cameras on; how can we expect students to share their home life with their teacher and classmates when their home life situation may not be the best? You may have students who are embarrassed about how they live, uncomfortable showing the world their private spaces, afraid of exposing siblings and caregivers on camera and many other reasons for not turning their cameras on. In the beginning, I was guilty of insisting my students have their cameras on, thinking that if we were in a physical classroom, they could not choose to be visible or invisible, so virtual classrooms should be the same. As a huge equity person, I'm ashamed to admit that I fell into this trap fairly easily, adhering to parameters for brick and mortar schools and not realizing how inequitable I was being. Think of yourself during meetings for work; how many of us choose to have our cameras off because we're not looking our best, our house is a mess, or too much is going on in the background? Our students have the right to make that choice as well, even if it goes against what we believe as educators. We are not living and working under regular times, therefore, we have to think outside of the box and be more flexible and understanding than ever before.