Time to change...again.
Well, it came. The moment when some kids came back into the classroom. I wasn't worried about the teaching so much as I was worried about the procedural aspect of how to maneuver everything. At my school, students come to the classroom with their devices, and we are continuing to teach through our online platforms. I'm very thankful for that because I have about 75% of my students that are still remote.
Right now, we have a set of two attendance groups, which is dependent on last name. They attend two days a week, either Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday, with Wednesdays as completely asynchronous still.
That post I wrote about being exhausted? Still holds true. Maybe even more so. I love having students in front of me, and I'm finally getting to talk to them in person and learn a little more about their personality. But DANG. It's tiring to have to maneuver the two monitors, 2904 tabs and remembering all of the PPE and cleaning procedures... it's a lot.
This week I've heard from a lot of teachers that feel like they are not being effective. You are doing your best. Regardless of how you are juggling the technical aspects or being able to meet the social-emotional needs of your students, you are doing the best that you can. This is not normal. Nothing about what we are doing right now is a direct reflection of us even on our worst day of a regular year.
We are pushing ourselves as we have never done before, and it's ok to just say, "That will do," even if it's not our best. Every day I find myself in mourning of the “I could have totally done (insert all the ideas here)”, but then I remind myself that this is our new normal for now.
I've been trying new ways to get all of my students to interact with me! Literally every day, I say to myself, "Let's see if this works." If it doesn't, I tried. If it does, it's my WIN for the day, or week in some cases! Last week I utilized a virtual gatekeeper. In a normal year, I have students give me a password to come into the classroom, and it's great for community building and gives students some expressions to stay engaged in the language. I hate that my kids don't talk to each other like they would if they were in class. So here comes the first virtual class job: Virtual Gatekeeper. I let all of the students in one at a time, and the first student arrives becomes the virtual gatekeeper. They can also pass it off to the next person if they choose. Then, as students enter the Meet one at a time, the gatekeeper asks for a password. If they don't know it, they can wait until a couple more people say it or ask for help, and the gatekeeper circles back to them. This is the most that they've talked to each other ALL year.
Another thing that I’ve found super hard to do is to draw the line at when I stop working. With students being online all the time, I almost have the sense that I should be available at all hours to answer emails and the private comments on their assignments. I know that I shouldn’t do these things. I try to shut down early every night, but it never happens as I continue to toss and turn thinking of different ways I can adapt all of the things I once did. I want to do better at that. I truly do. But as I’m reminding my co-workers to leave at a decent hour, I find myself going home to continue work that could wait until tomorrow.
So here’s me putting this out there for the sake of being accountable. I want to take an entire day of school off each week, including any other side gigs that I’ve got. And there are quite a few. This won’t happen tomorrow as much as I would like, but I want to be able to prepare for this day of rest throughout the week so that I can actually not think about al of the things that I could/should be doing.
Next week, after hopefully a full day off, I’ll come back and let you know how I did. The good, the bad and the ugly. I’m a firm believer in putting your oxygen mask on before helping others, so now it’s time to actually listen to my own advice.
After all, time is the biggest currency in our lives right now, and we could all use a little more.