Teaching during a Pandemic

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

We are all adjusting to this new normal, parents are now homeschool teachers, teachers have been forced into thinking outside the box to keep their students engaged, and children are trying to get used to sitting in front of the computer screen for hours. If nothing else this whole situation has taught us patience. I got a chance to speak to two teachers, Ashley and Suprea to discuss how they are adjusting to virtual learning and some tips to help parents support their kids both academically and emotionally. 

Tell us a little bit about your teaching history? 

SW: My name is Suprea. I am an 8th Grade U.S History teacher. Currently, I live in Houston, TX, and this is my first year working as a full-time teacher.  

Hi, my name is Ashley Day and I currently teach 10th grade in Maryland. This is my 3rd consecutive year teaching, six years total.

What were your first thoughts when it was announced that school would move to a virtual setting?

ADI still remember how chaotic school was on March 13th, the day that the announcement was made to move what we all knew as a school to a virtual setting. To be honest, I was ecstatic mostly because I didn't think it would last long. As a new mom who had recently returned to work after maternity leave and an unexpected c-section, I was looking forward to spending more time with my daughter. As many can imagine that excitement did not last for long.

What has been the biggest challenge this year both career-wise and personally?

SW: My biggest challenge career-wise has been balancing being a graduate student and preparing for my new role as a first-year teacher. Over the summer, I was taking three of my major courses to finish my degree, all while applying for full-time teaching positions. Considering the times we are in, all of my courses were virtual Monday-Friday back to back from 8-4 pm. All of my job interviews were scheduled through Zoom, which was a completely new experience. Personally, just making the adjustment and staying committed to what I wanted and needed to do this year was somewhat of a challenge.  It was not easy, maintaining a healthy balance. There were days when I didn't think I would find a job or get that paper done, by the deadline, but everything worked itself out

AD: The biggest challenge this year has been truly meeting the needs of my students and the needs of my family at home. Zoom fatigue is real and unfortunately, synchronous learning has given many educators a front-row seat to the life our students returned to when they left school. It has become much more difficult to build organic relationships with students and to pick up on social cues if something is wrong. I try to leave space for students to ask questions or to meet with me one on one but that hasn't been enough. As a result of working from home, it is very difficult to separate work time and family time. It is even harder to squeeze in quiet time for myself. 

How have you adjusted your teaching style to help your students stay engaged throughout the day?

SW: Right now, I think the most important adjustment I had to make was maintaining that flexibility. Every day I am researching new ways to engage my students, some of my favorites right now are choice boards, podcasts, and student polls. I have Bitmoji virtual classroom that is really fun to create and maintain, my students love it. I am learning to make those adjustments as I need to and if something does work, try something else.  My district started school about four weeks ago all online, we are transitioning to face-to-face instruction over the next few weeks. So, I am looking forward to meeting some of my students soon in a safe environment. 

AD: When you think about teaching a college readiness course, you may not think about creating space for students to feel supported if students do not have an interest in going to college after high school. I have adjusted my teaching style to be much more student-led all while creating space where students who have different views on college feel supported to share their ideas. The ways in which students can respond to assignments have evolved to fit what is most entertaining to them. Students now have more options to express themselves.

A lot of parents are working full-time jobs and assisting their children during the day with school. Do you have any tips or advice to help parents stay positive?

SW: Yes, my advice to parents is to try your best to stay in communication with your child's teacher whether that be through email or the virtual learning environment that the school is using. If your child's teacher has a school driven social network like Classdojo, Twitter, or Remind make sure to follow them so you can receive any updates the teacher is sending out. I would also let parents know that they are doing their best. 

AD: While Azuri is not yet old enough for school the demands of a toddler throughout the day can be overwhelming on top of the demands of work. My advice for parents feeling similarly is to first acknowledge that you are not alone. Second, surround yourself with other working moms who can empathize and share what has worked well for their family. And third, schedule time throughout the day for yourself just as you would a doctor's appointment or a meeting for work. This time is for you and you only. 

You all are parents, have spouses, and have other projects you’re working on. How do you balance being an educator and still making time for yourself and your family?

SW: This was another adjustment for me, but I'm learning that organization and an effective schedule is how I have been able to maintain that necessary balance. My son goes to daycare during the day,  which I am so grateful for because it allows me to do as much work as possible during that time. I've been trying my best to get him on a schedule that is healthy for both of us. Recently, I have started to give myself a daily deadline to cut off all technology, and that meant closing my laptop and not checking emails as much as I can. And that time is the time I spend with my family or care for myself. 

AD: As an educator, spouse, mom, mentor, and all the other titles I still struggle with balance. I try to give and often ask for grace because one day I may be killing it at work and the house is a mess or I forgot to take something out for dinner. I am working on asking for help before I feel like I'm drowning. Sticking to a schedule, a schedule that includes me as an item is what has been the most helpful in the last week. 

As we all continue to adjust to this new way of living and learning, continue to offer grace to yourself, to your family, and to your students. We are all juggling a lot.

Post a Comment

Latest Instagrams

© the little cru. Design by FCD.