The reality of distance teaching during quarantine has settled in a little. And with it, I’m realizing just how much I miss about teaching in a physical classroom. Nine things in particular. I am sure you can identify with at least a few!
1) Seeing my students in person.
Ugh. My heart. I know that distance or remote learning works for some students, but I’m realizing just how irreplaceable it is to connect with my students in person. When the quarantine is lifted, I’m going to have a very hard time not hugging everyone. You’ve been warned.
2) Bells reminding me when to do things.
I’m not even mad at my students when they forget my Zoom calls, because I BARELY REMEMBER MINE. I was thinking the other day, “I wish there was some kind of noise or alert that would go off letting me know I only had a few minutes left before my next Zoom meeting.”
Then I realized, 1. Like a tardy bell? And 2. Like an iPhone alarm I could very easily set for myself? (I still haven’t done it.)
3) The efforts of my students to stay engaged.
Any student who turns in work or tunes in for my Zoom calls under quarantine for a global pandemic deserves a Congressional Medal of Honor. I know I’m prone to hyperbole, but this is my truth. I can’t imagine being a teenager right now and having my whole world crumble, and I definitely can’t imagine trying to read The Odyssey while dealing with all of that (don’t worry, we’re just doing my favorite excerpts, e.g. crazy Calypso).
Stories are what’s keeping me going right now. I need stories where everything turns out OK in the end after a struggle. Sometimes that narrative involves a struggle way larger and more daunting than anything I could possibly understand, like when I cried rereading March by John Lewis the other day. Sometimes that narrative involves the happy couples on TLC’s 90 Day Fiance after managing the challenges of getting married on a K-1 visa. I contain multitudes.
5) The involvement of parents.
Parents, I honestly don’t know how you’re doing it right now. Every time I send a parent email, I want to send a P.S. that reads something like, “By the way, if you want to throw this email out and pretend it never happened and have a glass of wine instead, I get it.” Parents who are also teachers? You have my eternal respect.
6) Understanding and supportive administrators.
A long time ago in a school district far away, I worked for some people who were genuinely mean, divisive, and not good at their jobs (you can read all about it in my book coming out this summer!). I am almost in tears thinking of what it would be like working for them in a time like this. Hats off to all the great principals and assistant principals out there who are working harder than ever calling families, checking on teachers, prioritizing self-care and compassion, and going above and beyond in a time that is demanding all we have.
7) Having a whole classroom.
I MISS HAVING SPACE. I love my cozy house, but where am I supposed to draw a giant mural for a coworker’s birthday? Where is my giant Rubbermaid tub full of costumes for The Odyssey? Where is my desk for me to crawl underneath after I’ve locked my door and turned off my lights during my conference period?
8) The value of human connection.
My students are the obvious one here, but I miss just interacting with other people. Updating the school finance officer on my dog, which was adopted from the same litter as hers. Practicing my Spanish with the I.T. assistant. Making weird small talk with teachers in the copy room who still don’t know who I am (school-within-a-school folks, I know you see me on this one). Popping into my coworker’s room to tell them a story about how I just wrote the words “pen” and “is” too close together on my board in the sentence “I would use a pencil, but a pen is OK,” resulting in absolute student mayhem *.
*This has happened.
I miss you, printer. Life isn’t the same without you.
What are you appreciating more now that you’re having to do distance teaching during quarantine? Share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.