The following video describes how I feel about my current teaching situation:
I cannot believe that I have been doing concurrent/hybid teaching for the past 6 months now. Throw in the two months of shelter-in-place from last year, and I have been teaching in a digital environment for roughly 9 months. At the same time, I am trying to keep perspective. Yes, this is not at all an ideal situation. Yes, I have no training in this hybrid/concurrent situation. Heck, I have never lived through a pandemic before.
I can place blame on district leaders, students, parents, politicians, anyone, etc., but big picture: there is only so much which I can control in all of this. What I can control though are my reactions and how I personally deal with the situation. As a result, I need to celebrate my victories no matter how small or insignificant you may think they are, because these truly are positives:
- Over these past 11 months, I am amazed at how resilient I have been in all of this. I have always known that I am rather flexible in situations and that I am not one who initially over-reacts emotionally. So why have I not fallen apart in all of this? From personal experience, I know that life is always going to be a series of storms and of sunshine, and that no one is ever immune from hardships of any kind. I have endured the loss of both of my parents in the past 10 years to dementia and to cancer. I lived through both of those experiences, so I can certainly live and gain new perspective through all of this too. I look forward to a continued, future, even stronger resilience.
- I amazed at what I have learned to do with Google Classroom. If it had not been for the pandemic, I never would have learned how to use this learning management system. I can vividly remember during pre-planning watching videos on how to set up Google Classroom, create assignments, etc., and having no clue of what to do and being nervous about mis-steps. Now I look at myself and see just how saavy I have become with Google Classroom, and although I could say, "Wow, why was I even concerned about this, since it is so easy?", I realize that I need to say, "Wow, I truly have come a long way since July!"
- This pandemic has brought to light a lot of "shortcomings" in my own nature. You can read about some of them here in this blog post.
So what have I learned about digital teaching in all of this? I can definitely say that my views have completely changed over the past months.
- Do not worry about what students are not going to learn this year, because this is not a normal teaching situtation. To project that onto this current learning environment is not going to work. As a teacher, you are going to become frustrated, and students are going to get lost in the way.
- Focus on deep and simple, and on what you can teach them. Now more than ever, I am truly learning this. By no means is this a normal learning environment for students - honestly, I really have no idea what language (if any) students are acquiring through all of this. I know that they are completing online assignments, but all that this tells me is that they completed it and did the work. In other words, it may be possible that no true long-term learning has occurred. As a result, I need to really go deep and simple with the material.
- Less is more. What worked face-to-face probably will not work for every student in this digital setting. So many of my colleagues in the core areas have had to re-evaluate their own expectations of what can be accomplished and of what students are able to do in all of this, because what they would like to see and what is actually happening/what is realistic are two completely different things.
- When we do return to a "normal" teaching situation, I will evaluate what it is that students know and adjust my curriculum based on that.