The new school year here in Orlando starts on the 21st! Actually I take that back and it was quite a shakeup. So originally school was supposed to start on the 10th, however, COVID-19 happened so they pushed the date back to the 21st. Sometime in the first week of this month, the county (as a surprise to EVERYONE) announced that school would be starting on the 10th (virtually) and then will go into the hybrid model (some kids at home, some kids in the class, both learn simultaneously) on the 21st. This was such a huge shakeup and my principal found out about it the same way the rest of the public found out: on Facebook. Like when I saw that, I was floored. I was supposed to start pre-planning on the 13th, how was I going to do that and start school in a week? Well, my principal stuck to her guns and since we’re a charter school, we were able to keep the 21st start date for school. Side note: to appease obviously upset parents, the district said that the first 10 days weren’t mandatory. So yeah…
Anyway, normally, teachers would come in a week before school starts to start pre-planning but at my school, if you’re new to the school or new to teaching (basically your first three years) you have to come in for New Teacher Induction (NTI), to help us get acclimated to the school and how its ran. We were to come in to the building, which I won’t lie, made me quite nervous. I already went to a workshop over the summer where someone in attendance tested positive for COVID-19 so I think it’s safe to say that that experience made me quite nervous and scared to be quite honest. Of course, we’d have to keep our masks on all day except when eating and we’d be “socially distanced”.
The first day, they fed us breakfast, which was really nice. The hours were from 8am – 4pm and it was jam packed with working in our classroom, having pow wows in smaller groups, hour long lunches, and having a crash course in some of the new programs that we would be using this new school year. There was a lot of information given to us and I won’t lie, the last two days of NTI were so heavy that I left work with a headache. It was a lot and kind of hard just sitting in one spot all day with information (or lack thereof) being thrown at us. They didn’t talk to much about how school would run with this whole COVID-19 issue. That was kind of annoying because that was my biggest question, how do you expect us to do all the things you want us to do while still being socially distant and wearing masks and being safe. Still my question by the way.
We were given a lot of time to work in our classrooms, setting things up and what not. I pretty much have my layout done in my class, which I’m okay with. I think I’m going to put something at the desks to let students know which desks not to sit at. I got some stuff up on my walls and on the bulletin board in my classroom, which I will do a reveal within two weeks, so that the walls aren’t totally empty. Of course as time goes on, I’ll add more and more things to the wall. The area I’m most excited for is our classroom library. Y’all, I had a friend donate five full boxes of books! I didn’t bring all the books upstairs yet (I really should invest in a cart) but y’all, that is a lot of books that will be in my student’s hands. That, along with the two boxes the school donated and the books I already had will make for such a great and diverse library (which by the way if you want to help add books to my library as well, you can do so here). I always say, representation matters!
I will say, it was nice seeing some folks I haven’t seen all summer. Just that human connection is great. I was a little sad when a couple of the teachers I connected with in the Spring semester left and decided not to return. Which, hey do you. Only you know what’s best for you and your family. Which, I just want to say that telling teachers to just quit their jobs because of concerns of unsafe working conditions is kinda a dick move. People, including employers, should be held accountable for the health and well-being of their employees. It’s not fair to tell people to just accept it and don’t bitch about it. That’s not right. I digress; it was great seeing some folks I hadn’t seen all summer. It was nice meeting the new teacher’s I’d be working with. The final day of NTI had us doing a team building activity on the GooseChase App and it was so much fun (our team won of course). If you’ve never heard of it, it’s an app where it’s basically challenges you have to complete (kinda like a scavenger hunt). It’s a lot of fun!
So, what will school look like come the 21st? Well, we still don’t know for sure. Honestly, this is a totally new situation so we will just have to wait and see how things turn out. Breakfast and lunch would be served and eaten in class, the water fountains will be turned off so everyone is encouraged to bring water. Masks are to be worn at all times, except when eating. Hand washing and sanitizing is highly encouraged. Students aren’t allowed to go to the bathroom by themselves; we have to call and have them escorted. Same kind of for us, we have to call and have someone watch our class while we go to the bathroom or go to warm up our food. The students at home will attend classes on their regular schedule and will have to have cameras on and be in uniform. My normal class size is around 14-16 students each period so we’re not sure who will be at home and who will be face to face.
There are a lot of unknowns, but honestly, that’s okay. My school has promised to take care of us and make sure to run things as safely as possibly. However, it’s not a matter of if a student or teacher contracts the virus but when, even my principal said it. All I can do is follow the rules and pray to Jehovah to protect me and guide me.
What are you excited or nervous about for the upcoming school year? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. If you’re into some vlogs about setting up some classes, check out the videos below and give them a follow as well!:
The first video is from Brittany Sinitch aka FiveFootOneTeacher, she teaches secondary ELA
The second video is from Bridget Spackman aka The Lettered Classroom, she teaches elementary