No tired like teacher tired.
You know that moment when you get home after a long day, and you finally get the chance to sit down and breathe? That's how I feel every day...at 3:30. I've seen something floating around social media about how a teacher makes more decisions in a day than a surgeon. I don't know if there's any truth to that, but it definitely. feels that way.
There've been a lot of studies on a new phenomenon called "Zoom Fatigue", and let me tell you that everything about it is true. Being online all day is exhausting. However, I wouldn't have it any other way because I know that the alternative is even more challenging. (I'm looking at you, hybrid model.)
I get a report every week on nearly every device about my usage for the week, and every Sunday without fail, there's an increase in the amount of time I've spent on my phone and my laptop. Many of you might not know this, but my phone is primarily used as a work tool. I'm in so many groups and have networked with so many awesome teachers, that I can't step away from the cool ideas that they are posting about. It's a problem, but when I'm constantly looking for ideas on how to make online teaching work better, I know that I'm learning when I look at what other people are doing.
I've been trying to do better about shutting down early, but I always feel like I'm behind. I'm behind on grading/feedback that I wouldn't usually spend time doing if we were in the classroom. This is a unique time in education where I can really spend time personalizing feedback with everything that we do. If we were in the classroom, I could give students immediate verbal feedback, but with connection issues and the time that it takes to do every activity online, that's just not possible without having the rest of the class listening in.
I started writing this post 3 weeks ago, and already so much has changed. We are going to have students come back on a blended model next week. I'm excited, nervous and a bit overwhelmed. Being a teacher during a pandemic, it's just hard to keep track of everything. Add on the exhaustion, and I just flat out forget about stuff. Kind of like this post that I started and didn't finish. I've never been the type of person to forget about appointments or return an email, but here we are.
I took about two hours this morning commenting on every one of the quarterly reflections that were turned in yesterday. One of the questions on my reflection asks students what they need from me to be successful. I was sure that I would hear, "I need you to do ______ more" or "I don't like it when we do ____". But you know what? That didn't happen. Not once. Kids are resilient if you let them be. This isn't to say that I don't have room for improvement because online teaching has me finding that I need to be better every day, BUT students are learning. Even better? They kind of like it. I was surprised to hear kids say that they enjoyed my class even though I don't hear much from them or see their faces most days.
For the teachers who are struggling, know that you ARE making a difference. You might not see it now, but we are in this for the long game. You are doing the best you can, and you are making it work for both you and your students. You are doing much better than you think you are.
For the people who aren't teachers, show them some love and gratitude. Most of us did not go to school to become online instructors. We want to be with your students, but at the same time, we also value our health and wellbeing and that of our family. Do we get it done perfectly? Not all the time, but we will teach your kids because that's what we do. We'll teach them to overcome, to troubleshoot, to advocate for themselves, to practice good self-care, and so much more.
We are one quarter through this strange school year. I know how I usually feel in April or May, and I'm getting there already. It's my hope that a year from now we can reminisce and joke about things like, "Remember when we had the ability to mute kids? That was nice." Until then, we'll keep making lemonade out of the lemons that 2020 keeps handing out.