It’s been a full week back to school with students in the building. Now that I can officially say I’m a teacher during a pandemic, it’s been a little strange. Our school district decided to give families the opportunity to choose between in person learning and remote/virtual. This is great don’t get me wrong. So here we are as educators trying to navigate teaching both remote and in person students simultaneously. It’s been kinda crazy if I’m being honest.
Here’s what I’ve learned…
- We’re all TRYING to do what’s Best As frustrating as this new ‘normal’ can be, it really feels like everyone just wants what’s best for the kids. After all they are the futures, it’s why we are parents, it’s why we chose to educate. We are here for the kids.
- Normalcy Most kids are just ‘happy’ to be back in school. A great deal of students could care less about wearing masks or sitting apart from one another. I teach elementary so really the big scary things we adults have been going through this year went completely over their heads.
- One word KINDERGARTEN Social distancing kindergartners and getting them to keep masks on all day is next to impossible. Most of my other students grades 1-5 are doing great. I did feel terrible when I caught myself correcting a student (kindergartner) for trying to share a piece of paper they colored. They just wanted to give their new friend a picture. I overheard an administrator telling a young brother and sister not to hug each other inside the school. Inside I cringed. “IT WAS THEIR FIRST DAY APART IN MONTHS!!”
- Quiet With less bodies in the school building, sitting further apart, and masks on their faces the kids have been rather quiet. Some are still shy and a few really are afraid of what to expect. Overall it’s quieter because our virtual students are about 1/3 of our student population. Not complaining, but this is weird…very…very….weird.
- Worries I always check in with my students to see how they’re doing. Some are genuinely worried or scared they will get sick or they will bring sickness home to their families.
- Change You’ll find that as adult change really doesn’t get easier. Things are very different than the start of 2019 school year. It’s been a lot of stress mentally taking in all these changes 2020 has brought to the table. Change isn’t always bad though.
- Technology Every person whether a student, teacher, parent in all districts I’ve noticed are having some form of technology issues or glitches. It’s been a rocky transition to adjusting to teaching virtual and in person students. The students and parents are adjusting too.
- Safety As crazy as this year has been, I do feel our district is trying to keep kids and teachers safe. There’s a lot of sanitizing happening daily, lots of hand sanitizer, washing hands, and social distancing taking place. Visitors are restricted inside the school, masks are worn by EVERYONE all the time with the exception of mask breaks. Students and staff are monitored for symptoms and sent home immediately for at least 10 days.
- Grace and Patience With all of these changes I’ve found there’s nothing better than people helping others. The best thing all of us can do is be patient with one another during this time.
- Human Connection It’s so nice to be back in the classroom and connecting with students in person. I’ve also been working on ways to connect with students who are home. They’ve been sharing their artwork with their in person classmates via Padlet.com. Hugs and fist bumps are the hardest thing to let go. There’s nothing worse than having to try to explain this to my younger students and students with cognitive disabilities. We’ve adapted to air hugs, air fives, and bumping elbows (we call these chicken fives).
As much as I hope this is all over soon. There are some benefits from change. After I got over all the I Can’ts…I Can’t teach in my classroom…I Can’t share supplies…I Can’t use my art aprons…I Can’t use my classroom library…I Can’t use busy boxes…I Can’t do small groups…I Can’t have students do shared stations…I Can’t only do in person learning…I Can’t only teach online….I Can’t see all my students….I Can’t give fist bumps or high fives….I moved forward with what I CAN do and have learned a great deal about technology in just a short amount of time. I can now say I am a Zoomer, a Padleteer, a Youtuber, and best of all a hybrid teacher.