Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" After all these years, my name is still Anne Johnson. Doubt if I'm going to change it now.
Trigger Warning: The following post is depressing. If you're already depressed by this pandemic, give me a pass today and go watch "The Red Green Show" on YouTube.
Through sheer luck -- bad or good I can't decide -- I became a public school teacher in 2009 and have been doing it ever since.
I think the lucky part of my experience is where I landed in my career pivot to school teacher. I work at a school that serves an inner city population. I don't get much bad attitude in my classes, and when I do, I don't take it personally. It's too easy to imagine the stresses these kids are under at home and at school, where of course some bullying takes place and there are the usual cliques and jocks to contend with.
I've been "teaching" remotely since March 16. That's more than 8 weeks, with 4 more weeks to go. And that part about not taking anything personally has been very difficult to maintain.
Can I speak freely here? Dumb question. Then I'll go ahead and do it.
About a third of my students have either not turned in any work at all, or they have done two or three assignments and disappeared. Some of these kids are students I would somewhat have expected to be off task, but others are kids who had really good grades going into this.
At first I pestered every one of the disappeared students, but lately I have just given up. Who knows what is going on for them right now? And the longer they avoid looking at their classwork, the more it piles up. Right now, 8 weeks in, it would be a herculean task for them to catch up.
I was having a very good year at my school. My students were hard-working and motivated, for the most part. This is fortunate, because the ones who are not performing now had such good grades going in that they are not in danger of failing my class.
But it's really saddening to see what little I can do on the power of my personality.
Oh well, not to be completely demoralized ... the kids who are doing my work right along have high-in-the-sky grades, because the assignments I've been giving are really softball.
It's hard enough for me to sit here in my quiet house and discipline myself with a good laptop and no other obligations. My students have siblings, they share sub-standard devices, and I'll bet many of them are doing the babysitting while their health care worker parents go into the breach. The virus is still spreading in Camden and Pennsauken, affecting people of all ages. So there's that anxiety too.
Now our administration wants us to do Google Meets where we do Zoom-like meetings with our kids. I set up one of these for each of my classes, gave them plenty of notice and late-day start times, and then I sat with the Meet window open and waited for them. And waited. And waited. Not a single kid signed on. I miss them so much -- clearly they don't feel the same.
Ever had a pair of shoes that don't fit well, but you have to wear them anyway? That's how teaching feels for me. Like, I can walk in it ... but it never fits.
Sorry to vent. Y'all don't need any more whining right now. Just had to get this off my chest.