Not bad for a fat girl

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Is it Over? I Don’t Think So

I’m talking about the Pandemic, of course (I think the capital letter is warranted, don’t you?). Yes, the number of infections and the number of deaths has declined, at least here in the United States, and for that I’m grateful. And yes, many people have had the opportunity to get vaccinated, which is also excellent news. But over? Far from it.

Our world has become so interconnected that I think it’s naive to believe that what happens in one part of the globe doesn’t affect other parts. It’s true of climate change, and it’s true of this horrific disease and its myriad mutations. People aren’t static, they move, and they take their viruses with them.

I have to admit, I’m not feeling as stressed out about Covid-19 as I was a year ago. Back then I was terrified. I’m an overweight individual with some underlying health concerns that made me an excellent candidate for the grave, if I were to become positive with the virus. I still have stuff to do in this life, so I didn’t take any chances. I became a virtual shut-in. I worked from home, shopped at home, and communicated with others from my home. I became hyper-vigilant about being outside, always wearing my mask. The only place I didn’t wear it was my own backyard, and even then I had one in my hand, should one of my neighbors pop up on the other side of the wall.

As time went by various groups of people began pushing for a “return to normal.” As if that was even a possibility. But still, their voices were loud, and in some circles their wishes became the next new reality. Things started opening up, and people started abandoning their masks, at least in my area. Just when I was feeling like I might start to venture out, the rules changed, making “out” so much more dangerous. I waited. I’m still waiting.

So here we are, still living with this horrible virus, but pretending like it doesn’t really exist anymore. Unless you have it. Or your loved one has it. Or you work in a hospital with people who have it. When the whole thing first got rolling, I believed that we would all either get it or know someone who did. So far, I’ve been lucky and managed not to contract this virus, but I know several people who were not as lucky. Even the people with”mild” cases don’t wish it on anyone. It’s that awful.

Here’s my suggestion: let’s stop pretending this thing is gone, and start treating each other with respect and decency. Wear your mask, keep your distance, and avoid crowded places. Is going to a baseball game or concert really worth the risk? I don’t think so. Do we really need to celebrate at a crowded restaurant? Maybe not this year. Let’s be cautious, and plan for brighter days, not live like they’re already here, or they may be short lived indeed.

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Going Hybrid

Tomorrow starts the beginning of a new phase of the school year. Tomorrow is the day when I begin to teach kids online and in person simultaneously. For many teachers this has been their reality all year, but for me, it’s brand new. As more kids are returning to school, the in-person classes were getting too big, and the online only classes were shrinking. Most grade levels didn’t really have an issue with this, but our grade level was set up a little differently, so we had to make some adjustments.

Rereading my previous blog post at this time was a good reminder of why we do the things we do. Am I stressed out about this new way of teaching? You bet. But do I think it will be in the best interest of the most kids? Yes, I do. I’m sure I’m going to fumble around a little at first. I’m sure I’ll make some mistakes. I’m sure there will be times when things don’t go according to plan. But I’m also sure that I can figure it out, with the help of my students, teammates, and colleagues. If a teacher can’t embrace learning something new, it would be hypocritical of them to expect their students to rise to new challenges.

I will rise. I will do my best. I will model how to handle coping with things that may be confusing or frustrating. I will muddle through. And through it all, I will be delighted to have actual human children right there in the room with me, as well as those tiny digital people online cheering me on. Here’s to a new challenge for this old teacher. It’s going to be great.

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Technical Difficulties

It’s no secret that the online world has exploded as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. We’re doing so much more via the internet than ever before. In the time since shifting from in person fourth grade to online fourth grade, I’ve had to use no fewer than 30 different programs, websites, and apps to do my job. Some of these I’ve navigated for years, like the online gradebook and attendance system our district uses. Some of them are new to me, since going virtual, like the Ladibug software that allows my document camera to play nicely with my laptop, only sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s what trips me up.

I can handle seeing my kids through a screen. I can figure out ways to connect to them and to teach them the things I’m tasked with teaching. I can talk with them, laugh with them, and encourage them. I can do all these things when the technology I’m using works.

For some mysterious reason, the technology hasn’t been working well recently, at least not from my home. This is not just baffling, but it’s terribly concerning. First, the confusion part. You see, in March, when we starting distance learning, everything more or less worked. I set up my Google classroom, opened up my Google meets, and shared documents through my Google drive. It worked. Then we started a new school year, online. Everything still worked. Then, during our Fall Break, my name was finally called to trade in my old laptop for a new one. Fine. After Fall Break I was still doing virtual teaching, but I was teaching from my classroom (because I required to). Still no major problems, until things changed and I tried to teach from home. UGH.

At my home, my Google classroom sometimes loads with no problem, and other times it decides that it would just rather not. Sometimes my Google meets run smoothly, and other times they freeze repeatedly, kick me out multiple times, and then decide to just not work at all. It’s impossible to teach that way.

I know there’s nothing wrong with my wifi. I’m not the only one who uses it, and my live-in tech guru has assured me that our internet is fine. The only change is in the laptop. It just doesn’t want to let me teach from my home. I’ve called for help and the patient IT person worked with me to try a few different things. They didn’t fix the problem. The worst part about the situation is that ten minutes before class starts everything looks fine, but twenty minutes later I’m no longer able to deliver my lesson to my students.

I’ve hastily packed up my things midmorning and driven into school on more than one occasion so that I can teach, but this pandemic is getting worse, and I don’t want to leave my home if I don’t have to. I have the option of teaching from home, at least for the next couple of weeks, and I would like to use that option. With my current tech situation, though, I’m worried I won’t be able to.

I need a solution, and right now there’s nobody to talk to about fixing this. Maybe I’ll be able to get some help on Monday, but I’m a little skeptical. Nobody else seems to be having any trouble connecting (and staying connected) with their new computers. Why is mine the exception? Goes to show you, newer isn’t always better. I just want my old laptop back, so I can teach.