School🍎 started this week, and I’m not afraid to say that I was 😬anxious about it. Let me tell you how I usually teach my students. There’s a desk in the corner of my classroom where I rarely sit. It’s where I keep my pens and pencils. I stack 📝papers to grade on the edges. It’s my spot for the 24-ish minute 🍌lunch break that also includes a trip to the bathroom after walking my students to the 🍱cafeteria. The rest of the day is spent with my kids.
When I say “with my kids,” what I mean is that I am actually right there with them. I’ll grab a chair to sit right next to students as I help with 📝writing projects. I’ll sit on someone’s desk as I 📚read aloud to the class. I’ll plop on the floor to edit a paper. Most teachers are just like me.💖
I’m rarely 6-inches from my students, and now I’m supposed to be 6-feet away…with a 😷mask…with sanitizer handy. The student desks that I usually keep clustered close together to promote that sense of community are spread throughout my entire room- from corner to corner. And, that’s just the beginning of the required changes to my classroom in this era of teaching during a pandemic.😵
There was so much that went into preparations for this school year. I can’t even begin to explain all of the necessary factors for the planning.☑ As a teacher, I don’t even know many of the things that administrators and superintendents had to consider before teachers even heard about the changes. To say that it was a lot would be an enormous understatement.💯
School systems are already bound to state guidelines, procedures, and rules.🔎 Teachers must hold specific certifications to do certain jobs.🔎 We have standards and learning intentions and success criteria, just to name a few.🔎 There are student/teacher ratios and class offerings to consider- not just this year but every year. 🔎This term includes all of those things and a whole bunch of new mandates and restrictions from the CDC and local health departments. 🔎Schools aren’t given the option to ignore the new protocols.🔎 It’s a balancing act as new data continues to alter modifications. And, we’re supposed to be teaching about figurative language and history and algebra at the same time.😳
Can I take a minute to brag on the kids, though?😍 After watching videos of folks 😠screaming at store employees who asked them to wear 😷face coverings and all of the negative comments made on social media for the past few months, I wondered how the kids would react. Guess what? The kids have been absolutely incredible! 🎉Talk about rising to the challenge! They could have complained. They could have tried to ignore the new protocols. They didn’t!😍 No one can tell me that middle schoolers can’t handle tough situations! These kids have done everything that is asked of them.💖 They have been respectful. 💖They have been helpful. 💖They remind one another when someone forgets the mask (moving=masks is the new motto!), or it falls below the nose. 💖They know that it’s time to stand when the “ding” sounds near the end of the class period so that teachers can use the special spray on desks.💖 They understand that they are assigned seats to make contact tracing an easier chore in case it becomes necessary. 💖They know that I can’t touch their computer keyboard or share my art supplies.
The kids are doing it right!🙌 Maybe we need to take our cues from them! I have no doubts after being in school with them for one week that the kids can and will continue to rise to the changing expectations- even in these challenging times, even when it all seems overwhelming.💪
I want to do it right, too. I want to do it safely. I owe it to my students and their families. ✔I owe it to myself and my family.✔ I owe it to my co-workers and their loved ones.✔
What if…we do things right? That’s what I’m trying to do. We entered uncharted territory when those 🏫school doors opened. My kids came back- expecting me to be ready to teach them, to keep them safe, and to love💖 them. That’s just what I intend to do- and I’m only one of the thousands of teachers doing that same thing.💞