The Roller Coaster of School This Year

from Andrew Bowden’s flickr

In my district teachers have been back on contract for nearly three weeks. Kids will start on Tuesday. Other than laptop distribution last week, everything has been online and will continue to be for at least the next couple of months.

Kids haven’t even started and this school year has been such a roller coaster. That may have a lot to do with my own personal emotional state, but I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. I’ll figure out how something works or have a great meeting or conference and feel like I’m on top of the world. Then I’ll contemplate my to do list and want to curl up and cry.

This is my 23rd year as an elementary school classroom teacher. While I get nervous at the start of any school year, I don’t usually feel like this. Right now I’m feeling as though I have no idea what next week will look like. I’m not fully confident in what to prioritize when it comes to helping my students become independent members of our classroom community. I’m not at a total loss, but I’m at maybe 25% of where I’ve been in recent years at this point.

The one thing those previous 22 years did give me is confidence we’ll get through this. I know that in a few weeks we’ll be in a routine and we’ll on our way to being a strong learning community. I just don’t see the path to get there as well as I would like.

One reply

  1. Marilyn says:

    Curling up with a stuffed animal (from 60 years ago) is a crucial component to surviving this. I usually don’t have my semester meltdown until October, but I have had one every week since we started on August 7. This is miserable. Family and friends and fellow teachers (and even administration) have been supportive, but they can’t get me what I need: more time to learn, more time to create decent lessons for three different classes, and better internet connections for my kids so that I can understand them when they speak (if they will speak) in the Zoom.

    This is worse than the first year of teaching — 35 years ago I was young, energetic, full of ideas, and I didn’t know any better. !! I could do anything and lost sleep was not an issue. 🙂

    And you are exactly right — one day I remember all the right buttons to click and the LMS makes sense — the next day it is as if I have never seen a laptop in my life.

    My teacher friends have agreed that right now, content is less important than emotional support for kids. We have taken it easy and have spent the first week working on attendance, how to log in, how to submit a paper, and then some Breakout rooms so that kids can talk to each other. The students are really amazing — they are trying (and most are succeeding) — and when I broke down and cried about not being able to see them and have an interesting discussion, they were really kind.

    If I could work out a way to have 4-6 kids at a time in the schedule, I think I could get them to interact with each other and ask questions of me. As it is, I present for 10 minutes (or do a Loom), wait for someone to speak, and then send them off to do the reading, a video, and the Google Form or Sheet or Doc. It is so boring and so limited — and not the level of rigor that I want . . . . I really admire Charlotte’s history teacher for the clear instruction and organization from last Spring.

    Sorry I can’t give you more positive information — this is hard and I’m afraid it will be tougher before it gets better. I am anxious for all the young and old teachers who know what a good classroom looks like and will struggle to get there.

    You are the most knowledgeable AND caring AND tech savvy AND creative teacher that I know, so thank you for sharing your struggles and the creative ways you will solve them.

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