Return to In-person Learning with a Heat Wave, Poor Air Quality, & Technical Issues

This article is not meant to be cathartic or to complain or compete in the busy olympics with teachers around the United States. This is for my records, my documentation, the history of what happened when teaching during COVID-19.

Part of teaching is rolling with changes, making adjustments in the middle of the lesson, reading the room and discovering what can or cannot be accomplished in those 15 minutes and readjusting again. Teachers plan, but mostly they regularly think on their feet. I don’t believe I have ever had a week with the students that was exactly how I wrote it in my plan book. I know that I am not alone. This is what teaching is comprised of: flexibility and change.

Having said all of that, let me give you a brief summary of the last two weeks:

  • Monday, September 21 – Distance Learning on Zoom as it has been, with 4th Grade.
  • Tuesday, September 22 – Asynchronous work for 5th Grade, as I am given a day to prepare the classroom.
  • Wednesday, September 23 – 4th Grade in-person learners join me on campus; asynchronous work for continuing remote learners at home.
  • Thursday, September 24 – 5th Grader in-person learners join me on campus; asynchronous work for continuing remote learners at home.
  • Friday, September 25 – 4th Grade in-person learners are joined by remote learners via Zoom on my computer screen. This will go down as the worst day in my teaching career. A day I didn’t think I could recover from. A day that I know the parents that were watching me with their remote learner thought I was of a low IQ.

Let’s go to the next week:

  • Monday, September 28 – We have a heat wave rolling through the Bay Area with temperatures of 93 degrees in the afternoon, so school went to a minimum day; Being outside, with no AC, on the blacktop would not be healthy for students or teachers. Nonetheless, I taught in-person and remote learners simultaneously, then emailed asynchronous work for the afternoon, after putting together the materials bin for the remote learners to pick up that afternoon.
  • Tuesday, September 29 – Same heat, same minimum day, same simultaneously teaching, same asynchronous work in the afternoon. None of my 5th Grade remote learners could print the documents I sent. I did receive a speaker, but I could not operate.
  • Wednesday, September 30 – Same heat, same minimum day, same simultaneously teaching, same asynchronous work in the afternoon. Today, I got a TV screen! A TV screen with a HDMI cable to broadcast the remote learners. I ran an extension cord across the blacktop from a modular building made into an Administrative Office run by a generator. I got my speaker to work for a short while.
  • Thursday, October 1 – We had another minimum day planned. Just as I was to leave my home for work, I got the call that the air quality was unhealthy and so we had to go back to Zoom learning as campus was officially closed. Time to reroute my lesson plans, and make sure parents and students are aware of the changes and what to expect for the day.
  • Friday, October 2 – We are closed again due to poor air quality, but the call to close campus came the night before so there was time to plan. Students are beyond exhausted and class does not go well.

Did I still do my job? Yes, yes I did. I still managed to get small groups on iPads to join the Math specialist (who is working remotely) four times last week. I taught batteries and circuits, multiplication strategies, gave a Math assessment, social emotional learning skills, yoga, and reached out to parents about their children and remote learning adaptations, while still meeting with co-workers and speaking to my direct boss multiple times throughout each day. I keep telling myself this is NOT SUSTAINABLE. That something is going to give.

Our school is currently working on what changes we can make to have a more sustainable work environment, and most importantly to continue fighting for the education these children deserve, and the world deserves.

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