Covid-19 Teaching Diary Day 20: Losing Sleep and Feeling Stuck

Surprisingly, teaching from home feels harder than teaching at school when I'm not well rested. I experience a lot of anxiety related to teaching. Whether it's an upcoming visit from the superintendent, conflict with a co-worker, or a struggling student, I'm no stranger to sleepless nights. But when I am in my school building, a mix of adrenaline and muscle memory seem to take over and get me through the day. Remote teaching doesn't feel that way.

After waking up around 4 am, I was able to get myself back to sleep thanks to great book. I gave myself an extra 30 minutes to sleep as well. Still, I woke up tired and out of sorts. The extra sleep meant skipping my morning routine. I feel like I rely on a routine more than many people to stay grounded.

Today's video calls just felt challenging. And I couldn't find the usual patience with myself or my students to navigate them gracefully. Any time I find myself lecturing third graders on why they should care about my lesson, I know I've already failed.

I didn't lose my temper, but I was honest with the kids about how I felt.

One of my students was really sweet. "I'm sorry you're feeling frustrated." Third graders have this special way of talking that straddles early childhood and the relative maturity of upper elementary grades. Her concern took most of the stress out of the moment, even if I don't feel great receiving emotional support from a nine-year-old.
File:Sisyphus by von Stuck.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
I think part of my exhaustion and frustration comes from feeling in limbo. I don't know if we'll go back to school this year. The mayor says one thing, and the governor says another. But I'm also feeling in limbo, because after five weeks of remote teaching, I still don't feel like I've found a rhythm or any feeling of mastery. Some kids have started joining calls, but others have dropped off. It doesn't feel like linear progress. Similarly, with the content I'm covering, there doesn't seem to be normal progress. We still seem stuck on concepts we started weeks ago. This makes it hard to know exactly what I'm accomplishing.

Like classroom teaching, tomorrow is a new day and a fresh start. I am grateful to have a job, and one that feels so purposeful in this time. I am incredibly grateful to spend my time with kids each day, even if it's remotely. Progress will come. It just may take time to see.


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