Re-teaching the Teacher

Six days.

I’ve been teaching for 6 days in the most surreal school year in my 27 years in the classroom.

First, our students are hybrid. We have an A/B schedule. On Monday and Thursday group A attends face to face and group B attends via Zoom. On Tuesday and Friday the groups reverse. Wednesday everyone attends via Zoom.

Our class periods are shortened to 35 minutes so our day ends at 12:40.

My classroom has between 3 and 16 students attending face to face in each period.

It’s got all the germ-X, all the wipes, and all the spray cleaners!

And…

I’m not in it.

I have an arrhythmia that, over time, has caused my heart to weaken.

Oh and yay… I have asthma.

Basically… I can’t play covid roulette.

So I’m teaching hybrid students AND I am also virtual!!!

Maybe it sounds like a recipe for disaster… pandemic, the teacher is a head on the wall like (I’m dating myself here…) Max Headroom. 😂 Look it up all you young ones.

BUT IT ISN’T.

I’m learning some important lessons.

SLOW IS SO GOOD.

I always thought I was taking my time and teaching things very slowly. I thought I was making SURE they were acquiring. But I was not going as slowly as I have to now (because it takes me a minute to type stuff on my whiteboard in Zoom)… and my students have never been as sure of themselves as they have been the last few days.

RELATIONSHIPS COME FIRST

I was scared to death about how I would get to know kids virtually. BUT that was 180 degrees off what I’m finding.

As the virtual talking head at school, they’re still in MY kingdom. All the stuff is mine. They like to look at it, tell stories and use my props, see my pics…

…but as the virtual talking head on Zoom, they’re bringing me into THEIR space.

I’ve met their pets (SO MANY PETS… Guys… I LOVE all the pets), their little siblings, their parents, and even one neighbor’s kid who just thought Spanish sounded fun so she stayed to watch the Zoom).

This is a whole new level of meeting my students. We’ve detoured our conversations to meet Isaac’s hedgehog Chip (we won’t tell mom he was on the table) or for my dog, Sasha to stick her nose in the camera… We’re becoming a community. I wasn’t sure HOW community felt online but 6 days in, I find myself smiling ear to ear about some of the earliest signs that it is there and it will be strong.

I REMEMBERED THE JOY OF TEACHING

Guys… I graded papers yesterday. We’re doing Card Talk in 2, 3, and 4 to get back into the routine and get Spanish back in our brains after a 5 month hiatus.

After having talked about 5 days worth of peers sharing their summer activities, future goals, or plans for a million dollars, I asked them to illustrate 4 things they learned about their classmates and write a sentence or two about each one.

I smiled the WHOLE TIME I WAS GRADING THEM. I love seeing them drop in an inside joke that already happened in their class… or one that happened last year that they still remember… or just writing three sentences instead of one… or a COMPLETE SENTENCE FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER… There was so much to smile about.

THIS ISN’T GOING TO BE EASY…

It’s honestly exhausting. I have to be in “extra” mode ALL THE TIME to engage kids in person and online… so I am learning that if I build in a warm up and a wrap up, that “extra” mode can be 25 minutes long instead of 35!

This can’t be about “gotchas” and “covering the curriculum” and “rigor”(mortis)… We have to be flexible or we’re going to end up poisoning the waters we’re trying to keep them afloat in!

SO MY ADVICE TO YOU…

is to:

Be kind.

Be patient.

Love those kids… even the ones who sneak out to get a snack during class.

Ask to see the pets.

Cover less material but dig deep together and enjoy the experience.

Thank your admin.

Pat yourself on the back at the end of every day.

People told us in the spring that they were so impressed that we built the plane as we were flying it. That hasn’t stopped. This is a jumbo jet and we have a lot left to construct. Lean on your co-workers, relax with your family, and most importantly, give yourself grace.

It’s going to be a year of re-teaching ourselves as teachers but I have no doubt that from this crazy experience will come amazing new ideas and techniques that will reshape the next 100 years of education.

Be safe!

17 thoughts on “Re-teaching the Teacher

  1. Thank you for this. I’ve been seeing so many negative things (like parent criticism, profane and vulgar displays by a student) that my anxiety level is ratcheted way up! This really helps!

    • I was SO anxious! I wasn’t sure I’d be approved to teach from home! But it all worked out and it is all WORKING out! I still have a lot to learn… I just finished an awesome Zoom class from Justin Slocum Bailey that makes me feel like a Zooming superstar… but I know that almost all the things I’ve worried about have turned out to be non-issues!! GOOD LUCK! I know you’ll be relieved once you get back and see how it’s working for your students!

  2. Muchas gracias por tus palabras. Esto es lo que necesitaba en estos momentos. Comienzo la escuela el primero de septiembre y con los chicos el 8 de septiembre. Gracias y Bendiciones ❤️

  3. Thank you for this. Today I think I gave half the class talking to the wrong camera, but it’s ok. If anything, they will acquire “dios mio” because I say it every day fumbling with technology. I will pat myself on the back!

    • Oh i feel like everything is such a Dios mío right now too!! 😂😂 Im getting so much faster at switching screenshares and switching backgrounds but I have constant typos or forget to spotlight my camera 😂

  4. Muchísimas gracias, Carrie. Este año voy a usar Huellas con mi nivel cuatro y no puedo esperar a descubrirlo con mis estudiantes.
    Un abrazo muy fuerte y mil gracias for hacer nuestro trabajo mil veces más fácil y divertido.
    Mucha salud para ti y los tuyos!
    Aurora

  5. Thank you! You made me slightly more at ease about this whole thing. I’m also teaching virtually due to health concerns, but all of my students are attending school in-person. I’m really nervous about how it will work because they can’t promise each of my kids a computer. So I’ll be the virtual head on the projector and I’ll be looking at my classroom via a webcam…I’m nervous. I did manage to get computers secured for half of each 90 minute period, so during that time we will be doing ALL the zooming and talking and communicating in Spanish together. I just hope kids and parents will be understanding and work with me.

    I’d love to hear more about your experience and tips! 😊

    • I look at them on a web cam too! I have it on top of my smart board and the sub helped seat them so I could see them all. The only problem with having them meet you on Zoom is that if they’re in the same room, it will feed back! My class is live and my remote kids are on zoom from their homes. When my husband and I are even just one room apart we get mic feedback on zoom!! Email me if you want to chat more!!

      • I’d love to hear how you are doing class like this. I’m in the same boat as you! I’m home and I’m expected to conduct class live with some kids in the classroom and some zooming in at home. They can see me and hear me from the projector and I can see them and kinda hear them via my web cam. How do you have any interactivity when they are in the class?

      • Hi, Sarah!!! I am getting so much better at switching the spotlighted camera. I think this has been a KEY part of engaging the full class. To the home group, I am just another head in the zoom! To the CLASS group, I have to be a giant head or they sort of forget me. Does that make sense? If I need to ask a question and see who is raising their hand IN class, I spotlight their video but if we are all talking or I’m sharing something, I spotlight my video so they see me big on the screen.

        I watched Justin Slocum Bailey’s Zoom webinar series and it was so good. I learned about making my content into Zoom backgrounds so that instead of being a tiny head in the corner with the content big on the screen, I can put the content over my shoulder and STAY on screen with it! I feel like it has been much more successful!!

        Our classes are hybrid so it seems like the A kids are quieter when they’re at school and the B kids participate more. I’m learning that it is ok that way too! They are still involved, they just aren’t as… quick to volunteer as their counterparts on B days!

        🙂 GOOD LUCK! Email any time! I don’t know of many doing it this way and I would love to share ups and downs!

  6. While I’m not a teacher, I see all you and my other teacher friends have been doing…the extra work you have put in (and will continue to put in). I want to thank you for a positive post. Sometimes it seems we just hear the negative. Positive is SO much better!! Love you, girl!

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