BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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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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Staying Home

I was supposed to on vacation this week. Well, maybe I should say “vacation.” It would have involved a quarantine for the entire duration of my trip, which didn’t seem terribly productive or fun. Or safe. I also didn’t want to go to the airport and get on a plane. I didn’t even want to ride to the airport. And what about my luggage? Who was handling it? What if they sneezed on it and got me sick? Paranoid? Maybe, but I just don’t want to take any chances.

I’ve tried to avoid talking about this pandemic thing, because I know it’s polarizing. There are those that believe in science, and those that believe in conspiracies. Maybe there’s something in the middle, but I don’t know what that would be. In case you weren’t sure, I’m firmly in the science camp.

I wear my masks when I leave my property, even if it’s just to walk to the mailbox around the corner. I’m beginning to assemble a nice little wardrobe of masks. The other day I added a fabulous Ruth Bader Ginsburg mask to my collection, thanks to my crafty and generous friend. Now that was a good mail day.

I’m not going anywhere this summer. Not on vacation, not to the mall, not to restaurants, not anywhere. Wait, I take that back. I did make one quick trip to Target last week. It was a coordinated strike, with an action plan in place to get in, get the goods, and get out. Every person in the store was wearing a mask, which frankly surprised me, given where I live. My nerves were on edge the entire time I was in the store.

You see, I’m one of those “high risk” people when it comes to this disease. From the point of view of the disease, I’m an easy target. From the point of view of health care providers, who are currently stressed to the max from too many sick people and not enough resources, I’m not a great bet. I get it, which is why it’s up to me to make sure I stay well. So no, no trip for me.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve been gobbling up professional development opportunities like crazy. I’ve spent hours and hours learning new approaches to teaching, and I’ve earned a few college credits along the way. I’ve been home since March, and this is a way for me to feel productive. Yes, I enjoy my hobbies, but I also love my profession, and I want to be prepared to move forward when the time comes.

The discussion around school reopening has been one that I’ve been following closely. As of a few days ago, the governor of our state pushed back school opening to August 17. We generally start the first week in August. Now what will actually happen on August 17 is still unknown. The last I heard, our district will open providing 3 choices for families: all in person instruction, all online instruction, or a hybrid model that places kids in school for 3 hours each day. I know, I don’t really get the logic of that last one either. As we approach August 17, there may be a change to that plan. Several districts in our state have already come out and said they are only offering online instruction the first quarter. Personally, I think that’s wise from both a public health standpoint, and a consistency standpoint for students.

Let’s face it, there’s no good solution. No matter what happens, education has been impacted in a huge way, and there’s no easy fix.

I want to teach kids. I want to be in school. I also want all of us to stay healthy. I want this horrible pandemic to go away. But as my father used to tell me, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Wishing it won’t make it so. I, for one, will stay home as long as I can to help stop the spread of this disease.


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Still Here, Day Number I Have No Idea

Yesterday morning I had a virtual class meeting with my kiddos. It was so great to see them. Some of the kids come to every live meeting we have, and some haven’t been to any.

I miss their faces. I miss their hugs. I miss their jokes. I miss their quirks. I miss the sparkle in their eyes when something “clicks” for the first time. download.jpg

I’ve been working on becoming a National Board Certified Teacher, and part of the process includes filming myself teaching. I have to then analyze and reflect on the lesson, and answer a whole long list of questions about what I did, how I did it, why I did it, what the results were, what those results tell me, and what my plan is for moving forward. I was reviewing one such lesson, and it struck me how different live teaching is with what we’re trying to do now.

In a classroom, so many of those choices comes naturally with experience. We make decisions based on what we know is best for kids, and what we know about individual students. This online format we’ve shifted to has taken that away.

I know there are experienced online educators who would argue that they have close relationships with their students and are able to make those types of assessments and adjustments via distance learning. Maybe they can. If so, I tip my hat to them. I, however, am struggling with it. Assigning a story and some comprehension questions, then offering some feedback on the written work, is NOT how I teach. It’s not best practice, and it’s not interesting or engaging for students. On the other hand, trying to assign cooperative learning opportunities or open-ended assignments just isn’t reasonable right now.

I have to take the victories where I can. Today one of my kiddos whom I hadn’t seen since before Spring Break showed up on our class feed. Oh happy day!

Tomorrow we’ll do another live chat, and I won’t worry about their oral reading fluency levels, their understanding of plural possessives, their ability to multiply fractions, or their understanding of the Homestead Act. Tomorrow I’ll listen to them talk about pets and bike rides and legos and little brothers and sisters. Tomorrow I’ll look at their art work and listen to their jokes, and let them know that I miss them. Tomorrow is for connecting with their hearts; their academics will catch up later.