Covid-19 Teaching Diary Day 35: I Had No Idea It Would Be This Hard

It is hard to remember what this felt like when it started, or before it started. I looked around my classroom. I knew it was possible that I wouldn't be back again this year, but I didn't grasp it. How could I?

Today marks the 35th day of remote learning. I've decided not to count the seven days of spring break, even though I stayed in touch and assigned tasks for all seven of those days.

Reflecting back on that last day in my classroom, I'm not sure what advice I could give. I don't feel like I've figured much out about how to make remote learning "work". If anything I might tell my past self to prepare for something very, very hard. It has been so much more difficult and draining than I could have anticipated.

It has not been a linear journey toward progress. I have not figured out how to get kids online, keep them online, or help them complete their work. I created a routine for myself and my students, but consistency didn't bring the transformation I hoped for. This makes sense when I reflect on it. I know I have had good days and bad days, and even fluctuation within the days. More than once there have been bad days strung together. I can't imagine trying to navigate this as a third grader.

From conversations with families I know that they have shared feelings of stress, struggle, and also appreciation. I know that my students who join my video calls look forward to them. They are a way to stay connected to school, to me, and their classmates. I know that the video calls have been a lifeline for me too. They've given me a purpose, and regular human contact.

I do my best to empathize, and provide care and support. But do my words of encouragement and care sound like and feel like to the kid on the other side of the screen?

Some of my kids haven't left their house since March. Some of them are no longer living at home, because their parents' work means they can't stay home. Some have seen family members get really sick and others have lost multiple family members.

The last day in my classroom I felt so worried and uncertain. But I had no idea it would be this hard. I am looking back at 35 days of remote learning and more than anything I feel like I'm reflecting on 35 days of treading water. I have kept afloat by practicing patience and gratitude. As I look toward the end of June, it feels so far away. I'm hoping when I reach it, and look back at this point, I can feel some sense of accomplishment.


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