COVID-19 Teaching Diary Day 1

I haven't written anything on this platform in a while. But I have a bunch of unfinished drafts sitting here and on Medium. And since this blog started as a way to record reflections from my first year of teaching, it seems like the right place to return to now.

Today was my first day of remote teaching. As I write, I notice a lot of parallels to my first year of teaching in 2007.

Back then I was incredibly under-prepared for the task of teaching. Today, I felt similarly unready for remote teaching. Back then I found the whole experience pretty overwhelming. Remote learning during a pandemic feels pretty overwhelming too.

Thankfully, I have some of the same supports now that I had then, and some new ones as well. In my first year of teaching I relied heavily on support from friends and family. Thankfully I can rely on that support now. I also couldn't have made it through that first year without the community of teachers I belonged too. That is especially true now, and I'm grateful for how much that community has grown over the years. Social media has offered an extended teacher community as well that I've found essential during the past 10 days. Thanks to this community, I know that I'm not alone in my anxiety and my concerns around equity and developmentally appropriate practices.

So... how was my first day of remote learning?
Image result for tired teacher
I guess it went as well as possible. I had two Google meetings scheduled where I hoped to see my students "face to face." The morning meeting call had four or five kids, and the afternoon "math check in" had seven or eight kids. Although I had hoped to have more kids on the call (we have 33 third graders altogether), I was very grateful and happy to see some of my kids' smiling faces. I could sense that they appreciated the time to connect with their teachers and their classmates as well.

I tried to create space to check in emotionally. I will have to think about the right questions to ask. For today kids mostly responded they were feeling "great" and "good."

I did my best to clarify how to use Google classroom, while admitting that I'm still learning myself. I had scheduled an hour for a math check in, but covered everything in about 30 minutes. I stayed on the call because it felt like the kids were craving to stay connected.

One boy asked, "I know this isn't a mathematical conversation, but who made God?"

"That's a deep question, what do you think?"

We talked about that for a while, then got into how many days are in a year. Then we talked about why there are 365 days in a year which led to talking about the rotation of the earth and its orbit around the sun. So, in a way there's a freedom and spaciousness that this new platform provides.

I am trying to keep my assignments as simple and meaningful as possible. This takes effort though. I have to fight my own impulse to use Google classroom as a way to keep myself busy. I also feel pressure from my administration and from families to keep the kids as busy as possible.

I know we're all just doing our best in a situation that is completely unprecedented. The transition to remote learning was abrupt and stressful and it exposed so many of the fractures and gaps in our education system (and larger society). A third of my kids are living in shelters. A large number of my kids don't have internet at home. Expecting remote learning to meet their needs is simply unrealistic.

I want to celebrate the work I did with the kids who connected with Google classroom today. I want to celebrate the resilience my students showed. But I'm also sad and worried about the weeks ahead, especially for the kids who we don't have a way of connecting with yet.


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