Archives for category: Teachers and Teaching

Victoria Theisen Homer writes in Salon about the ways that remote learning distorts and devalues human relationships.

She writes:

Think of your favorite teacher. Whenever I ask people to do this, they usually tell me about a teacher who saw them: the one who took them aside and encouraged them to pursue art or computer science, who helped counsel them through a personal issue, who attended their Quinceañera — who, ultimately, just cared. By connecting with us in meaningful ways, these teachers not only earned a permanent place in our memories, they also engaged, challenged, and inspired us. Today, our nation’s 56.6 million elementary and secondary students could all use teachers like this, to help shepherd them through the pandemic and into a better future. But even in the best of times, school structures are more conducive to punitive discipline than meaningful teacher-student relationships, especially in our least-resourced schools. Today, with the challenges of virtual learning and the urgent messaging around “COVID slide” – the learning loss students may have suffered while they were out of school – relationships in schools are under further threat, just when students need them most.

Across the U.S., the pandemic has put a strain on families and children, many of whom continue to suffer from food insecurity, job loss, or the death of loved ones to COVID-19. So as kids begin school this year, they require connection, understanding, and nurturance from their teachers. While positive relationships with significant adult figures like teachers help children cope with trauma, such relationships also facilitate better learning. When students have meaningful relationships with their teachers, they are more likely to engage in class, more likely to feel like they can complete their school work, more likely to grow and achieve academically and personally. This is because learning is profoundly social.

But the pandemic has turned everything upside down.

Homer has prepared teachers. She studied some that entered affluent progressive schools where encouragement was the norm, and another group that taught in “no excuses” public school where conformity and obedience were customary.

The pandemic has extended “no-excuses” discipline into many schools that rely on remote learning.

She writes:

Schools across the country that primarily serve students of color and those from low-income backgrounds often adopt an approach to learning that centers on standardized test scores and control. For example, the other teacher education program in my study was situated in a “no excuses” charter school, the most prominent type of urban charter school (think KIPP or Success Academy), which aim to efficiently improve the academic achievement of children of color from low income backgrounds by eliminating anything they feel might distract students from learning (e.g. colorful socks, poor posture, indirect eye contact, talking in hallways).

At schools like this, educators maintain that there is no valid excuse for children’s failure to learn or behave. The teacher education program grounded in this context approached relationships like a formula: applying a series of discrete moves to accumulate “professional relationship capital” with students to increase their behavioral compliance and academic achievement. The director explained, “I think the foundation of the relationship is that my job is to try to generate maximum effort in thinking from you. That’s my job. It’s not to be your friend.”

Again, I followed graduates of this program into their first year of teaching at no excuses middle schools that primarily served students of color. These teachers also began the year by faithfully applying what they had learned about connecting with and disciplining students. They walked around their classrooms with timers in hand, smoothly assigned merits and demerits for behavior, integrated “little nuggets” they had recalled about students into brief interactions with them, and conducted “rebuilding conversations” after removing students from their class for infractions. It was all very efficient and controlled. Students were often silent, and hoped this approach would help them “succeed.” But they did not feel truly seen or understood as human beings by their teachers. One student explained, “I don’t think any of the teachers [know us].” And by the end of the year, one of these teachers admitted, “I think a lot of the kids sort of feel like it’s run like a jail…They’re very smart kids, and they understand that some of our rules are unnecessary, and overly strict, and un-empathetic.” The urgent insistence on academic achievement and behavioral conformity in these schools not only eroded opportunities for nurturing teacher-student relationships, it also conditioned students for subservience. This might be why some research indicates no excuses schools improve student test scores, but not life outcomes.

No excuses schools are not alone in this approach, though, and it now seems to be extending to virtual school. Desperate to counteract COVID-slide, educators are implementing plans to monitor and control student behavior during virtual class, including their attire, location, camera-use, attentiveness, and snacking. This is unfortunate but not surprising, because whenever the focus of schooling turns to quantifiable educational outcomes like standardized test scores or budgetary efficiencies, students are treated like products that must be regulated. Of course, humans are not products, and we all have very good excuses not to be performing as others may want us to right now, but the forces that govern schools don’t seem to get that. Because affluent and white students are more likely to attend schools with the resources to support meaningful relationships and less likely to be penalized for virtual or in-person violations, students of color will bear the brunt of this coming “discipline crisis,” which is really a crisis for relationships. For while relationships connect children to teachers and schools, harsh discipline severs ties.

Efforts to close the academic “gaps” that grew wider during COVID have facilitated the worst kinds of teaching.

Melanie Sirof is a teacher in the Bellmore-Merrick School District on Long Island innNew York.

“Let’s start rowing in the same direction”.

“Posting this now, before I walk into the first day of meetings that signal the start of school. I’m sure by three o’clock I will feel overwhelmed & frustrated, so I write this now, while I am still clear-eyed:

Know this, parents, we teachers are going to make the most of this lemon of a situation. We want your students to have a great year & not just “a great year, all things considered.” We are aware of our place in the story of your child’s life, understand that they only get one “senior English teacher” (or Math, or Chem, or Gov), one sixth grade experience. So we are going to do our best to live up to that mythology. We want your children to discover things about the world & themselves they had not known before our time together & our time starts now.

Can you help? Can you stop talking about what a disaster this is going to be? (Perhaps it will be, but let’s not lose the game before we get on the court.) Can you help your kids to respectfully reach out to us when they are struggling? Can you set them up for success with a mindset that says “yeah, this is the hand we were dealt, & look how everyone is doing the best they can with it.” Can you give them some agency in this, help them understand the buy-in? Can you stop calling out teachers you feel did your students wrong on social media? Give them the benefit of the doubt (a rough day, an honest but not malicious mistake) or the professional courtesy of handling the issue privately?

This will not be a lost year, it will not be a year of treading water, this will be a year in the story of your child’s life & you & I & they have the power to create some true greatness here. That is how we would like to be remembered when they come together in 10 and 20 years for reunions, when their own children (should they choose that path) start school & they are sitting around the dinner table swapping stories. We want your kid to say “Oh yeah, I remember my __th grade teacher…” & then start to tell funny stories about class or remember something they learned that year & never forgot, a new way to look at the world, a new part of themselves.

It’s a big ask, to want be remembered that way, maybe selfish and a bit self-aggrandizing to want to seize the opportunity given every teacher every September. But so many of us are in front of the classroom for exactly that reason, we had teachers we still talk about, people we met at 15 who continue to influence us at 45.

Let us do that -in person, or remotely, or some combination of both- we want the best for your children. Yes, we are all in the same boat, let’s start rowing in the same direction.”

Melanie Sirof
English Teacher
Mepham High School

Mercedes Schneider heard an interview with Jill Biden in which she pledged that a future President Bidennwoyld choose a Secretary of Education who has spent time “in the classroom.” That set Mercedes’ teeth on edge. “In the classroom” could mean a Teach for America tyro who spent two years “in the classroom.”

No, sir-ee. If you want the votes of millions of teachers, you have to do better than make a fuzzy promise.

She writes:

On the surface, that sounds fantastic. On the surface.

The problem is that the education reform movement specializes in its members having temp time “in the public schools” as a resume-padding device designed to catapult them into leadership positions in K12 education, such as district and state superintendents. So, technically, one of these classroom-exiting, sleight-of-experience resume padders could slide right on in as the next secretary of education, without spending but a moment’s time as a classroom teacher, and you, sir, might not know the difference because the person is *technically* able to declare having been “in the public schools.”

The schools of Sarasota, Florida, have adopted what they call “a concurrent model,” with teachers responsible for both in-person and remote learning. Some teachers say this is like working two jobs at once and wonder whether this is sustainable.

School in Sarasota County started a few days ago, but some educators say they are already overwhelmed and exhausted by the new way of teaching amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teachers knew this year was going to be a challenge with social distancing, extra sanitizing measures, technology issues, projecting their voices through a face mask for hours on end, and juggling students both in the classroom and at home — something the district is calling concurrent learning.

Four days into the new school year, some concurrent teachers aren’t so sure the teaching model is doable long term.

“I am worried that after a month or two of this, teachers that are really trying their best are going to start breaking down because it is not a sustainable way of teaching and we will burn out,” said Sarasota High School teacher Sarah Sturzu.

President of Sarasota Classified Teachers Association Patricia Gardner tells 8 On Your Side she’s been getting emails and teary-eyed phone calls one after another since school started Monday.

“They are finding they can’t give the attention to both groups. They just don’t feel like they are doing the job they should be doing and they feel the kids aren’t getting what they deserve to get on either side of this,” said Gardner.

Mercedes Schneider is preparing for the opening of her high school in Louisiana. Teaching during a global pandemic is a twilight zone, where everyone is groping to do the right thing.

She is aware of the difficulty of planning when there is so much uncertainty. Yet that’s what educators do: they plan.

She’s aware of the contradictions that will make every day challlenging.

The one constant that she pledges to hold on to iscrelationships. With students. With colleagues. The days ahead will be hard on everyone. Be kind.

Jen Coleman, a teacher in Alabama, explains why she keeps a sharpie in her emergency bag.

I’m thinking about one Sharpie pen in particular. It’s black, medium thickness. And it stays in the blue emergency bag that I keep on the filing cabinet closest to my classroom door. Our school’s emergency bags are remarkably sparse. No band-aids, no first aid materials. We have one flashlight, one sign with my name to help my students find our class if they get separated during a mass exodus, one copy of my class rosters, and one Sharpie marker. Why a marker? Someone asked that very question at a staff meeting. The nurse explained, in a completely emotionless tone, that the Sharpie was so we could identify students and write their names on their bodies in the event of an incident.

Samuel Jayne Tanner and Ben Stasny write a satirical posting for a middle-school English language arts teacher that appeared in McSweeny’s.

Area School District is looking for a Language Arts Teacher/ Cheerleading Coach/ Custodian/ Nurse to help lead our COVID-19 and anti-racism instruction during this unprecedented moment.

The Language Arts Teacher/ Cheerleading Coach/ Custodian/ Nurse/ COVID-19 & Anti-Racism Specialist will be responsible for providing equitable grammatical, emotional, health, school spirit, and hygiene counsel to students. In these turbulent times, guidance for our students is more important than it has ever been before. This position will also provide an overall vision for COVID-19 relief and anti-racism throughout our middle school program as well as design a non-contact floor routine. The Language Arts Teacher/ Cheerleading Coach/ Custodian/ Nurse/ COVID-19 & Anti-Racism Specialist must step-up and deliver the steady, immersive leadership that is required in this new normal…

Applicants should drive up to the first available COVID testing tent in our faculty parking lot and call our front office to alert school admin that you are there. Depending on how many staff have called in sick or are carrying out a job action, someone will eventually come out and greet you. Be ready to take a COVID test, teach a practice lesson using White Fragility that demonstrates Common Core standards, lead a verse of the school fight song, disinfect 27 doorknobs, and give your interviewer a COVID test. Good luck!

Please read the articles in Capital & Main’s series on teaching in the age of COVID-19, which is titled “The Year of Teaching Dangerously.” They spell out the frustrations and the learning curve that teachers and students have coped with in these uncertain times. Routines went out the window. Teachers had to improvise, to be creative and innovative, and to learn to live with unprecedented challenges.

They are linked here:

Elementary School Students’ Uneasy Year Zero” by Sasha Abramsky.

Are High Schoolers Zoning Out on Zoom?” by Sasha Abramsky.

Middle School Teachers Face a Fall Term of Uncertainty,” by Sasha Abramsky.

Teachers Discover that Distance Learning is a Dance,” by Larry Buhl.

From the last article:

Imagine you’ve been cast in your school’s spring musical – in this case, High School Musical — and you’ve been rehearsing for months, but the COVID crisis closes everything a day before the show opens. Andrea Calvo, a teacher at Orange County’s Ladera Vista Junior High School of the Arts in Fullerton, was directing the show and said the performers, as well as students and in her guitar and choir classes, have been emotionally “all over the place” since March.

“Some days [they are] depressed, some days happy. They went through all the emotions and the ups and downs that teachers did,” Calvo said. There was so much confusion on how online instruction would go, and how long it would last. “We were grieving but didn’t know what we were grieving.”

In July the Orange County School Board stepped into the national spotlight by declaring its schools, unlike Los Angeles County to the north and San Diego County to the south, would open for fall classes – and without masks or social distancing. It would prove to be a moot point, because later that week Gov. Gavin Newsom mandated that all schools on the state COVID-19 monitoring list – including Orange County’s – be closed until they are off California’s monitoring list for 14 consecutive days.

A week before the fall term started, Calvo said that teachers’ stress levels have lowered somewhat since the March scramble to take learning online. Now there’s a plan to reopen schools – when the school meets the state criteria and not before – if not an exact date.

“Not knowing is stressful,” Calvo says. “Nobody thinks distance learning went well in the spring. We were in crisis mode.”

After a few months of trial and error, and a summer to connect with other music teachers nationwide on distance learning best practices, Calvo says she’s better equipped to teach online. She adds that the students at her school all had iPads, so they were already better poised for distance learning than students in other schools. Not that it made the switch easy. Nothing in her 20 years of teaching could prepare Calvo for Zoom meetings with choir students who appeared, singing, on 60 little video boxes on a computer monitor.

“We did warmups, they recorded themselves, and I hosted,” she said. “For musical theater, I demonstrate movement [in real time] and they follow.” There were too many students to fit on one computer screen, but fortunately Calvo had help from a student teacher, who monitored a second screen.

But Calvo says Orange County adopted what it calls a “Do no harm” grading policy during the crisis. The idea is that you can’t hold students to the same standards while schools are closed. “Some students were at home with family and quarantining there. Some may be at home all alone caring for siblings, some had sick parents. We don’t know what students are going through.”

But Calvo and fellow teachers and staff do want some idea of what students are going through, and they try to make sure everything is all right. “We make spreadsheets to see, ‘Oh this student didn’t log in for three days. So in that case we call and ask if everything is okay.’”

Not giving up on its plan to force everyone back into classrooms during the pandemic, the O.C. Board of Education last month vowed to sue Gov. Newsom over school closures, claiming that online instruction had been a “failure.”

Distance learning for the long haul
Calvo said that attitudes of parents and county residents have shifted over the past five months as more have accepted that the pandemic will change learning for the foreseeable future. “In May, Orange County posted photos of what classes would look like, with PPE and distancing, and people said, ‘Oh, that looks awful.’ Now, more people want schools to look like that when they open.”

“As a teacher and a parent I think distance learning is safest,” says Calvo. “But that is from a place of privilege, because I know I am able to stay home. A lot of parent friends feel the same way but I recognize we may be in a bubble.”

Calvo assumes distance learning will be the norm well into the new school year. That’s a challenge for any school, but for hers, which has 30 arts electives, it’s an even bigger challenge to maintain its culture. “There is a lot of creativity here. [Distance learning] is a dance.”

Capital & Main published a five-part series on teaching during the pandemic. The series is called “The Year of Teaching Dangerously.”

Sasha Abramsky launched the series with an article about how schools in California were adapting to the pandemic.

Abramsky writes about the uncertainty, confusion, and conflict that accompanied the shutdown, as teachers were required to address new realities and to confront stark inequities.

In March, when Northern California counties issued stay-at-home orders, followed shortly afterwards by a statewide shutdown, schools scrambled to improvise a pivot to online “distance learning.” Some were able to make the change within days; others took many weeks. Grading and assessment systems were largely put to one side, at least in the public school system. And school districts rushed – and in some cases struggled – to purchase and distribute Chromebooks or iPads to students who didn’t have them; to set up Wi-Fi hotspots for families lacking home Internet access; to work out how to keep distributing food to children from low-income families who relied on school breakfasts and lunches; and to set up methods of teaching online that wouldn’t leave out students who had special education plans, or who were English language learners.

Bureaucratic systems fabled for their inflexibility were, suddenly, tasked with finding kluge-like solutions, at speed, to meet these extraordinary challenges. Inevitably, the result was hit or miss.

The articles in this week’s new series, “The Year of Teaching Dangerously,” reflect the extraordinary challenges facing elementary, middle and high schools as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on daily life.

What began as a temporary shutdown evolved into a new way of life, for teachers, students, and parents.

This post was sent by a teacher in Westchester County, New York, who prefers to remain anonymous:

Based on the hybrid/blended learning model described in the re-entry plan, this is what an average class period would look like in a typical 40-minute class. While an 80-minute class has more flexibility, the protocols are the same. This is a SMALL sampling of what life will be like for teachers and students in a hybrid model with the protocols outlined in the re-entry document.

This example would start at the transition between period 1 (which ends at 9:15am) and period 2 (which begins at 9:18am). In a 40- minute per class schedule, there are only three minutes between periods for all class periods. In an 80-minute per class schedule, there are only five minutes between periods for all class periods.

In this example, the “cohort” model where students stay in one spot and teachers move to them is not considered. It is not a practical solution for most classes—especially those that require supplies.

1. I just finished a class that ended at 9:15. I rush to my next class where another teacher is finishing a class that ends at 9:15. I do not like teaching in this room after this particular teacher because I do not trust that teacher to enforce social distancing and mask protocols. That teacher tends to be too lax. I need to go to the bathroom, but there were too many people waiting to get in (given the social distancing requirements). I did not want to risk leaving my students in the hallway given the risk of unsupervised interactions. Plus, the bathroom protocols are confusing. Overall, it’s unclear when I will be able to go to the bathroom at a safe time. I get to the room and I need to wait until all of the students from that class exit—presumably in a socially distanced manner (although that is unlikely since they will only have three minutes to get to the next class which starts at 9:18. My students are starting to arrive and begin to crowd me since there is no place to go. While waiting, I have no safe place to stand and there are students, teachers and other staff headed in all directions in the hallway. Once the classroom is clear, I rush in.

2. As the students from the first class leave, they encounter students waiting in the hallway who need to come in for my class. It is unlikely that they are following distancing or mask protocols because there is NO ONE supervising them, beyond a quick yell as a teacher passes–“hey get those masks on” “kids please separate–you can’t be closer than 6 feet.” It is highly unlikely that anyone will hear the teacher since it is quite loud (especially with multiple teens and pre- teens shouting for attention). The teacher will rush off to get to whatever class they need to get to. Or the teacher will ignore it entirely because the hallways will be the most dangerous places in the building–especially between classes.

3. Even if I arrive a minute or two after 9:15 (which is inevitable since I’m rushing from another class), I am concerned that my students will enter the room without monitored social distancing and mask wearing. The doors are propped open by protocol (to allow air flow), so there will be a period of time where the room is unsupervised.

4. Somehow in this time from 9:15 to 9:18, every surface is supposed to be disinfected. It is unclear who will do this or how it will be done. In all likelihood, it will not happen and as the day goes on, the room will become an ever-growing petri dish.

5. According to the protocols, students are supposed to wash their hands when they come in. After entering the room, some students make a beeline for their desks, while others head to the sink. There will be a breakdown in social distancing because it will be impossible to monitor this and have an organized method of entering, sitting, and washing hands. When there are only three minutes between classes, the transitions are inherently chaotic. A line forms in the crowded space leading to the sink. This will become a source of concern and I will have to say something like: “students please socially distance! Make sure you put those dirty towels in…..(not sure where that type of waste will go). Make sure you clean up that water that is now all over the floor and on the counters! That water is now contaminated— please try not to get water everywhere. Please hurry, we only have about 35 minutes for class. Oh, and I’m saying this on the opposite side of the room b/c I don’t want to be near you”

6. Eventually students go to their assigned square.

7. Students are carrying their supplies with them from class to class, so they put them………somewhere?

8. Now students students set up plexiglass that they are also carrying with them all day

9. About this time a student asks to go to the bathroom—which could be problematic. It is unclear when we are supposed to use the bathroom—there are apparently “designated times” for classes to go, and I don’t think this is our time. However, I allow the student to go because it looks like it will be a problem if I don’t. Before I allow the student to go, I remind the student to wear their mask and do not congregate in the hallway. And be sure to walk on the appropriate part of the hallway. And come straight back to class, again using the appropriate hallway (and stairs if applicable…it’s hard to keep track of which stairs and hallways are for which direction….I’m pretty sure the bathroom is in the middle of those one-way hallways…or it may be where there are lanes separating each side—but no one ever sticks to those lanes because….no one sees the tape and they are students and it is impossible to supervise).

10. When that student comes back, they will need to wash their hands. Again.

11. In the meantime, I am trying to open some of the windows for airflow, but many of the windows do not open properly. I am hesitant to go in the back of the room because of the proximity to students. I check the air conditioner to ensure that the airflow is on “fresh” air and not “circulate” since circulated air is supposed to spread the virus. At this point, my only thought is about protecting myself against the virus. After a week of this, I am sure I will be in a heightened state of anxiety since every minute of every day will require constant monitoring of my surroundings. Anyway, I’m not sure if the air conditioner is set correctly and I’ve lost too much time already.

12. Some students will arrive late because some of the hallways and staircases are directional–meaning they might need to circle the building to go in the proper direction. Some students may get lost going this way. Others may bump into friends, take off their masks and chat. Some students may find this system highly stressful which will make it even harder for them to follow the “get to class protocol.” Some students may drop their box of material while trying to balance their jacket, box and plexiglass (and any other items they may be carrying since lockers are not in use).

13. I wait until late students wash their hands and set up at their spot.

14. At best, it is now 9:28 (10 minutes into class). Likely, it is after 9:30. Best case scenario, there are 30 minutes left (not including packing up and cleaning and leaving in a socially distanced manner). 15. Now I need to set up livestreaming. The second half of my class have been waiting at home for class to start (at 9:18), however given all of the protocols we must follow in the building, it is impossible to start at 9:18. I’m concerned that students will get impatient and leave. As I try to livestream, there are complications. It’s Zoom and there are always complications. Also, we have webcams, but the only ones available to purchase are off-brand copies of major label webcams that have been sold out since March. While they look nice, they are glitchy. Plus, the computer that the webcam is attached to is an older computer with older hardware and limited RAM. It is difficult to stream to 10 or so students with older technology. While our bandwidth has improved, every class is attempting to stream at the same time. Plus, every cell phone, Chromebook and laptop in the building is tapping into WIFI. We always have slowdowns mid-day. It takes me about five minutes (if I’m lucky) to connect with the half of my class that is at home. While I’m doing this, the in-class students have nothing to do and start to become restless and talk to each other. Students often lower their masks to talk and I start to notice this out of the corner of my eye, but I’m trying to make the livestreaming work.

16. As I finally get the remote students on board, I turn around to ensure students are socially distanced, have their masks on and are sitting in their assigned square. I reprimand at least several students for having masks below their noses. While I address the issues in the classroom, the remote students have nothing to do—some of them turn off their camera. It is now 9:35 (if I’m lucky and there are minimal tech problems on the livestream side and few issues of social distancing on the classroom side).

17. A student asks for a scheduled mask break–he can’t breathe. Several other students complain too. I say, “not now, I need to get started.” Those students are upset at me. One is really embarrassed that I said their name because the students at home heard it and they know the class is being livestreamed. Some students have expressed concern that their friends will secretly record the class or take screenshots and put them on Instagram. Even worse, they worry about becoming a meme. I am a little worried about this too. The students at home are really bored.

18. Now I need to take attendance. It’s halfway through the period already. I must take attendance for two different sets of students. Technology problems will make this longer—there are always problems with our attendance program. It slows mid-day when many classes are using the network. The livestreaming has placed a huge strain on our bandwidth needs.

19. Finally, I explain the directions for the class. However, I need to find a place to stand where both groups can see me. I generally stand in the same spot all period due to social distancing rules.

20. I am not able to move around room due to social distancing concerns.

21. I will be teaching with a mask and a shield. Communication will be difficult. Students will ask me to repeat information—although this will be difficult to do from home, so they will tune out and pretend to be listening. Students will grow to hate these mandatory livestreams. They will tell their parents that it is a waste of time. It’s really difficult to understand anything (b/c the microphones on the off-brand webcams do not work well), plus they can’t do many of the activities that I insist should be doable at home. Although, it is difficult to determine this since there is no research about best-practices for a hybrid classroom where half the students are at home and the other half are in the classroom. To be honest, I am completely winging this. There is no time to prepare these lessons and I have no prior material to fall back on. Even though I am a veteran teacher, I have no idea how to teach in this model—no one does. I spend most of my day trying to stay safe.

22. Teaching is a bit awkward. I’m not sure who to look at. When I look at my in-class students, I’m staring at a group of evenly spaced students with masks (most are hanging slightly askew). I then turn around to see a Brady bunch group of students looking like they are being tortured. Somehow, I need to find inspiration. We are just about ready to do an activity. It’s now 9:42 (at best)

23. The “lesson” now begins—we have 16 minutes left. Some days it will be a PowerPoint that will somehow have to be presented to two different groups in two different locations—I never remember where to direct my voice. I try to get passionate about the subject but then remember that jumping around with a face shield and getting sweat and spittle on the inside of my mask is really disconcerting—so I tone it down. Plus, I look crazy jumping around in that get up. Also, moving around erratically causes my shield to shift and my mask to slide down my face. On other days, students will do an activity. Students will not be able to collaborate given the two different environments and the need to socially distance in the classroom. Activities will be severely limited to accommodate social distancing and a remote audience. I will not be able to distribute materials— especially for classroom work—because the group at home will not be able to participate. If a student needs one on one help to understand the handout, I will not be able to help due to social distancing. I’ll try to help from afar. It’s really difficult to address questions from two different sets of students so I focus more on the in-class students. The students at home become progressively more disengaged. Lessons in this environment will most certainly be rote and dry. There will be minimal engagement.

At 9:53, I start to wrap things up to get the class ready for the next group. I’m very anxious about these transition times. Students need to make sure they have all of their belongings in their box. They need to clean the plexiglass and take it with them. Supplies used in class (if they belong in class) must be cleaned. The remote group has already signed out b/c there is nothing for them to do. In fact, they only had about 10 minutes worth of “learning.”

The class ends at 9:58 and the next class begins at 10:01—and this happens all over again.

It turns out that my prep period is from 10:01 to 10:41. This is when I am supposed to prep for classes and/or grade material. This is especially important now because every lesson must be prepared anew to fit this hybrid environment. However, there is no place for me to go. The hallways are jammed. I cannot stay in the classroom due to social distancing protocols. Plus, it would be awkward if I end up on the livestream of another class. I try to strategically plan when I can use the bathroom safely. However, I do not want to remain in the building. There literally is no room for me to go to. The faculty lounge has limited occupancy—plus, the ventilation in there is terrible and I do not want to be in another room with many other people—some of whom may not be wearing their masks correctly. So, I decide to go to my car. To get there, I have to use a specified exit which is on the opposite side of the building of my car. By the time I navigate to the proper exit and wander over to my car, it’s 10:15. If I used the bathroom, then it is probably 10:25. I lie down in my car seat for 10 minutes max. Then I have to race back to the proper entrance (and go through an entrance exam?) to get to my next class on time. Obviously nothing is planned or graded during this time.

Multiply this by 6 classes. Add in lunch and specials. And there WILL be other challenges that I didn’t address. These are just the most obvious.

I question how much learning would occur in this environment. I’m worried about my health and the health of my students and the community as a whole.