Feeling like a Failure
Ok, so maybe I'm being a little hard on myself and a little dramatic. It's something that I do, but DANG. I feel this way today. I have been exhausted lately, and today, I hit a wall. Being on a computer all day and all evening is tough. Teaching online is tough. Not having students communicate with you is tough. Repeating myself in class and in emails is tough.
I've tried being really positive about how things are going, but in all reality, this is not what I signed up for. This is not something I ever envisioned for myself, and I know that every teacher feels the same way. Sometimes I think it's ok to just say that this sucks and see this situation for what it truly is. I'm trying to make the best of it, but today was hard.
My school has been remote learning for 4 weeks. A whole month has gone by, and I feel like I still don't know my students. I've tried personal surveys and life maps, but there's just not that fun joking around that you would get in a passing period or telling someone privately that they are doing a great job. I think back to the times when I had students ask to talk about something that was bothering them out in the hallway. I miss those times when I could just talk to kids.
I'm using SO. MUCH. ENGLISH. There's a lot of explaining on how to use tech tools that my level one and two students don't have the vocabulary to navigate the tasks that I'm wanting them to complete. It's hard enough to build community in this environment, so I don't want to stress them out by giving them tasks that they don't know how to complete.
I try to help my students out by giving them zero homework. As in none. We do all of our repetition and reading in class. I want to be able to help them figure things out without feeling like they have to go to a translator. But I'll be darned if I have kids who don't take advantage of that and miss out on easy points. It's hard to motivate kids in this environment. If we were in the classroom, I would sit down next to them (in this case the safe 6 foot social distance) and make sure that they stayed on task. They are completely on their own to do this. And I don't think teachers realize how hard this is on them.
Today I wanted to hear from my students...from ALL of my students. I can tell sometimes when they are just tired, so I wanted to know what some of their frustrations are about online learning. I shared with them mine (one of which being that it's hard to get to know them), and then they shared with me via Flipgrid (a video messaging site...free if you've never used it and SO helpful!).
I gained a lot of insight into how my students are dealing with remote learning. The overwhelming majority are stressed and overwhelmed. They are lonely and isolated and feel stressed about not knowing when this will all go back to normal. Listening to them broke my heart. It makes me want to try that much harder to go outside of my comfort zone to get them talking to each other. I teach a lot of freshmen that were so excited to meet people, and it's just not that easy to do that online.
I know that this is temporary. I literally tell myself that every day, but not knowing for how long this situation will last causes me anxiety. For once, I don't know how to answer my students when they ask how long things will be like this. Living in a world with a lot of unknowns is rough for everyone.
If you're a teacher reading this, talk to your students about something other than your content for a little bit. I'm hoping by what I did today, students can trust this process more and trust me, too. Even if it's not the easiest way, I was glad that I got to personally send video feedback to them. It felt almost like a conversation. Let's not let the conversation stop here.