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.
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?