We’ve suffered for a year teaching in a pandemic. We’ve been thrown into the new world of remote learning (while also teaching those kids who came in person). And if you’re like me and you live in Texas, you survived Snowpocalypse. The almost utter breakdown of a functioning electric system. Because of this last, I cannot teach at my school. The fire sprinkler system burst in the main building and the cafeteria, so we are not able to hold normal classes. But I’ll get to that later…
Teaching Remotely and In Person
Let’s talk about teaching remotely while also having kids in-person. What a joke! At the behest of our administration, we were told not to do anything for kids at school that we couldn’t do for kids at home. That was the party line at the beginning of the year. At least that’s what I understood. Later we were told that, as long as we were covering the same standards, the work could look different. I have been doing a flipped model for my classroom. I video lessons and post them in GC so that the kids can watch them and then do the work. We have Zooms every other day so that kids can ask questions and clarify things on assignments. Before I could pivot (like that buzzword?) and add in some more engaging lessons for the in-person kiddos, our school got shutdown from the flooding.
Now I am teaching from home 4 days a week. On Wednesdays, I report to the school to help monitor the 100 or so kids that we have housed in another, non-flooded building. Some parents needed help with supervision during the day. These kids sit in the same room all day and do their remote work. They just have teachers monitoring their progress instead of a parent. They do not switch classes or go to electives (except band, I do not know why this is), and they eat lunch at tables outside and then head back to their rooms. To say this is not ideal for anyone is an understatement, but it is the way our school is helping out parents who are struggling.
Let’s talk about state testing while teaching in a pandemic. The first day of state testing, for us the 7th grade writing test, only 7th graders came up to campus. The 6th and 8th graders stayed home and learned remotely that day. The problem is that the state system basically crashed and none of the kids testing online (which was the whole grade for us) could take the test. Great job, Texas. On the second try, it worked, thank goodness, but now we still have 4 tests for the 8th graders, 2 for the 7th graders, and 2 for the 6th graders. So 8 days of our 27 remaining will be for state testing. Awesome.
Making the Best of a Bad Situation
I have to commend my administration. Everything that has been thrown at them while teaching in a pandemic is insane, and they have handled it all pretty well. There have been a few kinks and a few upset people (including me) because of schedule changes and extra days needed. All in all they have done the very best they can with a crap situation. They have two buildings being renovated as we speak, and they are supposed to be finished sometime this summer. However, we all know contractors can promise things that don’t happen. I know I will look back at this year and shake my head and wonder how in the world we ever got through it. But for right now, the end of those 27 remaining days cannot come soon enough.