Monday, March 16, 2020

Slice of Life #20 Challenge Day 16/31: Teaching the Unknown

Slice of Life #20 Challenge Day 16/31:
Teaching the Unknown 

Today I struggled to write and post something not related to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. I wanted to be positive; I wanted to focus on something more normal. Yet, I could not. 

Today was the most surreal teaching day for me. 

Following school dismissal on Friday afternoon, we got word that Governor Evers called for all K-12 schools to close by March 18th. Each school district seemed to approach this directive in a bit different way. Some districts closed immediately. Some school districts only required staff to report. Our school district brought in all students for the full day today with the plans for distance learning to occur beginning on March 19th. As a secondary teacher in my district, I will begin planning tomorrow. 

We had little information about what our distance learning would look like until yesterday (Sunday afternoon). We learned a bit more at today's early morning staff meeting - about fifteen minutes before students arrived. Although I was calm and tried not to show my worry, I was filled with anxiety about today. 

In twenty years of teaching I've never felt more "blind" going into a day of teaching than I did today. I wasn't sure what kind of questions students would ask; I wasn't sure how to explain to my students how I was still figuring out my  plans for the next few weeks. In the end, I was nothing but honest with my students and shared with them that I was doing my best as their teacher, but so much was still unknown. I tried to listen to concerns and field questions. I apologized that I did not have more concrete, long term plans.

As I met with each class hour, I made sure each of my students: 

  • were a part of my Google Classroom and knew how to access it,
  • knew how to email me and emphasized the importance of regularly checking email and Google Classroom,
  • had at least one book to read while we were gone,
  • had Wi-Fi access, 
  • knew where to access district announcements, 
  • and knew the times and locations that free school lunches could be picked up.
At the end of each class I said goodbyes to my students, reminded them to wash their hands, and how to practice social distancing. Ironically, a few students gave me sincere hugs after we spoke about the importance of social distancing. What could I do but accept their hugs? 

As I think about today, I cannot help but wonder when I will see my students again and what the next few weeks will hold for us all. 

What will be different when we finally return to school?

Readers, I did my best today.

One bright spot was shared with our staff today. One of our choir directors shared this video of students from our school's Varsity Bass Choir singing a recent concert song (with lyrics adapted to current events). I must have watched this video at least five times this afternoon. 

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  1. It’s so funny the same thing happened to me with hugs. I accepted, because I didn’t know how to say no, but also was like, “Kids! We just talked about this!” Haha

  2. You've captured the eerie, unsettling day it was, along with the care and support you could give to your students. Reading posts like this, I'm proud of fellow slicers to recording this moment in history.

  3. Our school district announced its closing from tomorrow through April 3. I think the entire profession is feeling as you do. You showed love to your students, and that is the best thing you can do. The rest is just background. Don’t forget that.

  4. Your post captures both your dedication as well as the shocking situation in which we find ourselves as educators. Great list, especially the bullet point about having a book.


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