This weeks post shares insight into the amount of work that went into prepping for the unprecedented school closures. We also take a look into one teachers perspective during the first week of ‘home schooling’. We hope you enjoy “Chronicles of a real teacher virtually homes-chooling your kids” as much as we did.
Chronicles of a real teacher, virtually home-schooling your kids.
The Coronavirus mania didn’t hit my city until late March. Like all states we were hyper-aware of the news, literally counting and dreading the days until it would be our city’s turn to go into lockdown. It was a Monday in late March. The long stretch after the holidays. Our job is to cram as much material as possible into our lesson plans while at the same time making our lessons fully engaging by adding brain breaks, alternative forms of assessment, and making sure our kids are paying attention and not making up excuses to go to the nurse every half an hour. It is the last trimester of 5th grade for them and my goal is to make sure they are fully ready for middle school next year — not only academically but also emotionally -this being the tougher one of the two.
When my students ask silly questions and need extra reassurance I tell them to remember that I will not be there next year and they should ask three before me and become problem solvers. Ironically I find myself telling them to use their time wisely, and take advantage of the resources presented to them. At this point I have no idea just how much I should be doing the same, considering how fast the Coronavirus is spreading. Soon, I would be eating my words.
Prepping for the unprecedented
My days are mentally and emotionally exhausting. I quickly run some errands on my way home to spend the rest of the afternoon trying to put in some ‘quality time’ with my kids. Dinner time comes around and I’ve hardly blinked before I’m out. So who has time for CNN?
My news feed these days are the endless chats and memes via WhatsApp from friends and family members who live in other countries already in crisis mode and consequently the same goes for “my parents” news source. This means that by Tuesday I am bombarded with emails from parents inquiring when our school intends to go online. The situation is unprecedented. We have no idea what the plan is. With all the uncertainty and indecision going on I begin to feel alarmed. Leading my 5th-grade team, I decided to prepare in advance and bring in the educational technology team into the classroom to make sure that everyone had mastered Google Meet and Brain Pop. I felt my team and students were ready for what was to come. In hindsight, preparing our team and students for online instruction was the best decision that I had made.
Classes are canceled, now the storm begins.
A few more days go by and classes are canceled. But we still have to show. Tons of teachers, office assistants, maintenance workers, preparing our school for distance learning. I walk into the chaos feeling confident because of the reasons explained above. Boy was I WRONG. As the meetings begin and the emails roll in I realize that my school has decided to go all out and create a distance learning plan that only Elroy from the Jetsons would be able to understand. My heart paces as I think to myself ‘Oh my god … What is going on? … How are we going to do this?…. I thought I was prepared but I took for granted the access I had to all my resources at school, MY STUDENTS primarily.
Parents seem to truly ‘see’ their kids. Those parents who have more than one child are also understanding the true value of schools and teachers and the immense amount of work that goes into everyday. In the long run, we will all be stronger from this experience. We will all come out of this with gratitude and fortitude.
Project ‘online learning’ begins …
I take a deep breath and begin learning how to use the new resources available to us, and begin putting our DL into place. Many informative sessions later, I feel ready. 5th Grade is ready. Crossing our fingers to launch day on Monday. Sunday is extremely stressful however Monday rolls around — all of my scheduled posts on Google Classroom go out and I tune in to Google Meet for my first guided reading book club meeting, to realize only one student is on the call. Only one student read the instructions. I’m doomed. It’s over. I’ve gone from being a great, well respected veteran teacher, or so I think, to failure. This was all supposed to be under control.
I take another deep breath — patience is definitely a virtue these days. I wait until 11 a.m. to meet with 5B. Now, 5B is the least obedient of my two groups. They complain about everything and are the less mature of the groups. After my morning book club fiasco, I am worried, very worried. 11 a.m. comes around. I join the meeting, and slowly but surely my students begin to pop in. One by one I can see them on the screen, very obedient with their microphones turned off and their cameras on listening attentively, just as we had practiced at school. Agreeing with me that they need to read the instructions closely, and practice more maturity than ever. They ask questions, sit properly in their newly created work areas with their hair brushed nicely.
My students are HERE! They are ready to learn, they are happy to see me, and most importantly they MISS ME. My heart melts listening to them tell me they’d rather be at school and how they took it all for granted. I feel the same way. It seems I had been taking a lot of things for granted lately.
I miss seeing their little faces every day. We are learning, we are safe, and when we go back to school and this nightmare is over we will be grateful. My worry about them not being mature enough to go to middle school will be obsolete because they went above all odds and proved me wrong.
Getting a gist of distance teaching on days 3 and 4 … how bad can this be?
Day 3 and 4 rolls around, and despite a few complaints from the usually complicated parents, everything seems to be going smoothly until I start to see numerous administrator popping into my sessions. The micromanaging begins. ‘It’s OK’ I think to myself they are just making sure everyone is doing their job. I mean that is THEIR job. At this point, a lot of my colleagues have begun to fall apart. There are way too many cooks in the kitchen and the numerous emails with different expectations have become overwhelming.
As a veteran teacher, I know that home-schooling will cease to be a top priority when the pandemic becomes more present. Once everyone stops trying to be superman- us teachers will be good. I put my Humpty’s back together again and hope that they don’t go back to sit on the wall.
Friday rolls along ..
Chronicles of a real teacher virtually homes-chooling your kids
Day 5 rolls around and the usual euphoria of Friday is not present because obviously when you are at home all day, every day begins to feel the same. Let’s be honest, with stress and teaching, comes wine, therefore I have not been limiting myself to the weekends anymore. Everything is going as good as could be expected. Parents seem to truly ‘see’ their kids. Those parents who have more than one child are also understanding the true value of schools and teachers and the immense amount of work that goes into everyday. In the long run, we will all be stronger from this experience. We will all come out of this with gratitude and fortitude. Hang in tight teachers, hang in tight parents, even if we don’t have this under control, we will all be OK.
… The author behind this piece has chosen to remain anonymous
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During these stressful times, let’s pay attention to what’s most important, the happiness of our loved ones. Above all, let’s rediscover the small wonders in life and remember to be kind and remain serene, this too shall pass.
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