Things I never knew . . .

Installment #18:

Five things I never knew . . . until I became a teacher:

  • how much planning is involved in a single lesson
  • how much planning is involved in a single online lesson
  • how much energy is needed for a single day of teaching
  • how much energy is needed for a single day of online teaching
  • the magnitude of difference between in-person and online teaching

On Our Teacher Shortage . . .

When I first heard that classes were returning to school buildings, that teachers and students would be in the same room, I only imagined a first-day-of-school type of return. I thought about the jitters the night before school. I thought about preparing a classroom with the usual name tags and bulletin boards, and now maybe some added dividers. In all of my imagining, I did not once think about state and national exams.

Eventually, I did begin to think about the reality of making a schedule that fit social distancing, hybrid, and those that chose to remain remote. I did begin to think about the mechanics of needing 30-40 days to develop a routine, when some of us have barely 60 days left in the school year.

We’ve had a national teacher shortage for as long as I can remember; we have approached crisis levels of need in some parts of the country and in certain specialized areas. Given the past 18 months, I do have to wonder what a return this late in the year will do, and what it will mean to come back as though nothing has changed (ref: exams), or what it will mean if we expect everyone to keep up with every new schedule and demand (teacher v. parent v. state v. federal v. district).

I have a number of friends readying papers for a leave of absence next school year, and I have read that plenty of teachers have already left or plan to leave–permanently.

I don’t know where we’re headed in the education sector, and I don’t know if there’s a single better solution, nationally, but I do know that if don’t end up with greater respect, and compensation, at the end of all of this, our teacher shortage will be dire.

March 2021: Welcome Back!

Welcome back??

I have my ears closely in conversations and news segments in California and Nevada, I am always on the lookout for school updates, and it seems that March 2021 is when in-person, of some kind, public schooling will be returning for quite a number of us.

Whether it is one day a week or five days a week, whether it is fully in-person or hybrid, whether it is gradual or immediate, I wish all of you the best of luck. This is the longest any of us has been away from our school routine; so, while it will be exciting and rewarding, it will also be exhausting–and know one can be grateful and tired at the same time.

So I say again: Welcome back 🏫

Photo by Atoms on Unsplash

Trending Teacher Topics

I was recently asked to participate on a teacher panel. This opportunity included providing input on the panel topic. Instead of providing topics I could, and would gladly, discuss, I decided to provide a list of topics I am over.

Topics to retire, if only for the next conversation:

  • Failing Grade(s) Epidemic
  • Learning Loss (thanks to distance learning)
  • Motivation (or the lack thereof)
  • Online Learning Games
  • Technology in the Classroom
  • Zoom: Pitfalls or Tips

It’s not that I don’t have first-hand experience, opinions, or things to share about these topics; rather, I feel that given a global pandemic, given the past year, I need space.

I know students are failing, and there is definitely academic loss, but we’re trying to survive a global pandemic that has upended nearly every sector of life. So, if we’re distracted or unmotivated or unable to put forth our regular best, it’s understandable.

I’m happy we’ve had the option and opportunity to have distance learning. It’s not perfect, it was implemented in haste, and even in the best circumstances it may not be suitable for all learners. I have heard and presented, ad nauseam, about online games, technology tools, and all the workings of Zoom. I need time to process, to practice more, to simply keep what I like and forgo anything new for awhile. It’s not that these things aren’t important, it’s just that (I feel) we’ve talked about them enough for now–what do you think?

Photo by Sam Balye on Unsplash

Remote v. In-Person

There are merits and pitfalls to both remote and in-person instruction. And they vary depending on the reason, setting, and age group. Of course.

I think instead of lamenting about one over the other; instead, of focusing on what we have loss, it is important to consider what we have gained. I know I have said this before, but it is a challenge and as a challenging reframe I have to repeat it.

I’m currently teaching adults three times a week online. I wish it could be in-person, I wish I could visit their classrooms, I wish I could sit with them and see more of their faces, reactions, etc. Absolutely. I do have moments and times where I know it could be better, if we were together.

However, I know I have much to appreciate in this situation.

I’m grateful for the flexibility of remote learning. I don’t have to leave the house–the weather has been atrocious so staying home is nice. I am pushing my creativity skills–I am rethinking, reorganizing, re-imagining the lessons I had planned, and the lessons I am giving. I am able to connect with talent and professionals beyond my immediate circle. I am connecting with teachers from across the globe, not just teachers near me. I am learning how to use new tools. Between Zoom, Kahoot, Jamboard, ClassDojo, Padlet, etc. there is more opportunity, than ever before, to implement and practice with new online tools.

Distance learning can be trying, draining, exhausting. I admit it. I also don’t want to be burdened with the negativity–or drained by it. I love teaching, and I hope that despite it all, I keep learning and growing as a teacher, even in these difficult unprecedented times.