Today is the last day before students return to campus. I will not have a full roster, which will prove to be difficult as the juggling will commence. Having to teach in-person while simultaneously teaching to the remote learners on Zoom is a balancing act like I have never experienced. I am nonetheless excited to start the First Day of School, all over again (5 weeks later).
Part of the preparation for the return to campus has been to make the tent feel like a home away from home. See how I did not say a classroom? This has been a turbulent time of emotions for all parties: educators, students, and parents. Normal does not exist, and finding a place where peace starts to kick in is still far off. A small cough can to lead to leaving campus; A trip to see family or friends means staying remote for 72 hours; Allergies can no longer go untreated; 6 feet of distance is required, and masks stay on all day. I will teach, and we will learn together, but the classroom has changed.
COVID-19 has brought on many changes for schools. Teachers are pushed to the emotional and physical limits of continuing to offer education through virtual learning. Administrators are trying to find ways to return to campus and keep everyone, children and adults, safe.
I have spent countless days and nights working on lesson plans, researching new information, speaking with other teachers in different communities, attending professional development, and trying to find time to not lose my health and sanity all the while. I share this brink of utter exhaustion with many educators and those in the education field. Of course each teacher battles their own personal war with their knowledge, their training, and what is being asked of them. It looks different in private schools and in public schools; It looks different among the population size within a school; And, it looks different depending on leadership within the school community. What seems to hold true for all, is that we still trying to stick to the same rules that (only mildly) worked before COVID-19 hit the scene. Those rules no longer apply. It is the very analogy of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. We all know how that works. The definition of insanity comes to mind here.
In this time of education vs. COVID-19, we are looking at all new terrain. The students and the educators are trailblazers in a new world of education. It simply is not the same as it used to be. Therefore new rules must be created. We may be able to use a few of the instruments and tools we have used before, however we will have to modify the way in which we use them. It is not the fault of administrators, educators, and government officials that we do not know how to navigate these uncharted waters. We simply need to stand up and decide what is in the best interests of the children.
I have thought a lot about teaching with restrictions to in-person learning, while simultaneously teaching remote learners. Each time I think about how I will teach, it always comes down to what I would want for my daughter. I feel a huge, DUH, coming up. However, what makes my statement different is that I still have hope that I can be that teacher. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired of the current state of schools in our country. I am sick of not having adequate time to prep and make do. I’m sick of being stressed out and unable to meet demands. I am sick of complaining about my job to my family and friends. I am sick of feeling like a failure. So I decided that I will not let this year be the year that I fall prey to all of what I am sick of. In making up new rules I know that I am going to teach the way I wish I could have been taught, and in the way that reaches the heart of education and children’s lives.
I got into teaching because I felt that education is a tool to act individually and with others to make change for our present and future communities. Along the way I discovered that students and teachers learn alongside one another, and when that happens we get closer to peace, community, and lasting change for the betterment of our world.
The “classroom” is different this year. Our world got shaken up, and now it’s time to look deeply at what is really important.