Monday, August 17, 2020

Coronavirus Navel Gaze: I'm Scared, I Tell Ya. Scared.

 I woke up this morning and realized that two weeks from today I will be going back to work as a public school teacher in a district serving low-income, minority students.

I'm terrified.

Of course I am afraid of catching the virus, but it's not just that.

I'm 61 and I am tasked with teaching 14-year-olds online (from my classroom!) so that they don't fall behind their peers academically. Never mind that my students are already two or three years behind their peers. It's my job to catch them up.

It's my job to compete with PlayStation, TikTok, Discord, Netflix, and Instagram (to name a few) and to inspire young teens to read and write in plain Google docs. And get this: The students in my district have to log in at 7:34 a.m. and go through their whole school day online as if they were in class. What do you think Period 1 will be like? What do you think Period 9 will be like?

*I can't use Personal Choice reading, the backbone of my curriculum, because the students can't touch the books.

*Any literature I use will have to be in the public domain.

*Any YouTube I want to use must be approved by my supervisor. Even a one-minute clip. All approvals must be done individually.

*I will not see my students except as little thumbnails on a Google Meet.

A majority of my students will be baby-sitting younger siblings, who will also be learning online. There will be no "pods" for my kids, no tutors to help them in small groups. They can't afford it.

Anyone who has done it will tell you that great teachers are more or less performers, entertaining the audience and also providing emotional support and personal interaction with each student. How can I do this online? I don't even like talking on the phone, let alone on Zoom.

At age 48 I had to pivot into teaching because I lost my job. I can't pivot again. In any other profession I would be almost ready to retire. Instead I have to work another 9 years. I will be 71 when I submit my papers. If I live to do it.

Usually in late August I'm pleasantly looking forward to meeting 70 new young people and learning about them through their class work and their reading choices. This year it feels like that dreaded First Year of Teaching that shows no mercy and takes no prisoners.

Oh yeah, and Covid. People have already tested positive in the building.

Anyone have any ideas about how to make this work? Bueller?


anne marie in philly said...

and the guvmint dosn't care. I think every teacher in this country should go on strike.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Grim situation, Anne. Very grim indeed. I wish you good luck, inspiration and that you may stay safe.

Bob said...

I'm with Anne Marie.I would strike until every member of the government vowed to send their kids to public school, because most are keeping their kids home for online school.

Janie Junebug said...

I've been wondering what your school year would look like. How do you grab their attention? Juggle bowling balls? Show porn?



I'm terrified for you..and angry and sad..i will continue to give the goddess something shiny for you..each and every day..sending my love to you my friend..

on a lighter note..Dylan and Abby came over for the weekend..Dylan is obsessed with the doll buggy with Shirley in it..we had to walk around the apt complex with him pushing the buggy with Shirley Temple in it..which cracks me up ..cause his daddy is one of those boys play with trucks not dolls..but he's scared of me so he won't and can't say is good.

e said...

Anne, I am so sorry that this is the next phase of the virus. All of the teachers I know are at their wits end. Some are in your position of teaching online, others are going back to classrooms with kids. Every situation is fraught. I'll be sending you all the good energy that I can muster. Hang in there!

Bohemian said...

We're into Week 3 of Online for our 14 Year Old Special Needs Grandchild we're raising. She's doing better than expected, but there are the challenges since for the Teachers and Admin it's had to be so stressful and creative to even get to where we are right now! Her IEP hasn't had time to be addressed and she apparently got so intimidated by Algebra she didn't check in for 3 Days and I didn't know 'til the Teacher's Aide called Yesterday to tell me she was worried that she'd been MIA! Uh oh! We're all winging it and I admire the dedication of every Educator on the Planet right now. I would worry more if our District insisted on In Person Classes, our Student is High Risk and has Health Issues, we're Seniors with our own comorbidities. She told us most of her Teachers have been older people, or multi-generational families like ours who have several Generations under one roof due to necessity. Only the Affluent have options to explore and the Govt. isn't caring about anything but getting the bulk of the non-affluent back to work, regardless of how unsafe it still is. So many of the Parents in our District must Work and need School to unfortunately be their 'affordable' Child Care option, which is a sad commentary on America not addressing that issue either. So many Students here rely on the Free Lunch Programs too, even if the Family has Work, wages are so low for many Families to try to stretch out, since Rents are high in a Climate that attracts Tourists and those who can afford Vacation Homes... it drives up the cost of living beyond the means of too many who live and Work here full time. I wish I did have solutions for what you're terrified about, all I can offer is a Virtual Hug and the advice to do what you have a Peace about... and resist that which you do not.

Anonymous said...

I have no advice for schooling or teaching or CV-19. My advice is to be kind to yourself. You can only do what you can do, and anything you do is better than nothing. Just do what you can, and let it go.
--Kim Cooper