Friday was our first day of school. It was ver interesting to say the least. First of all, I did or should I honestly say sat through two weeks of “trainings”. I did quotes because a lot of the information were repeat information from our New Teacher Initiation (you can read about that here). It was a lot of fluff information and basically what us teachers got out of it was…teach yourself how to use the tools.
This year, we’re using a new Learning Management System (LMS-some teacher lingo for ya) and so we’re using the platform Schoology. I’ve heard great things about it from Bridget Spackman over at The Lettered Classroom so I was pretty excited to use it. I started seeing all these other teachers on making Bitmoji classrooms and virtual classrooms and I’m not gonna lie…it’s a lot! I got sucked in. I’m so laser focused on trying to create the cutest virtual classroom and now I don’t know what to do.
The first day of school crept up pretty quickly. I was able to collaborate with the writing teacher (the split ELA and writing for some reason this year). I find myself blessed in that because she had the kids last year as their fifth grade teacher. She gave me the mow down on what worked for her and what didn’t and I really appreciated it! Thanks to her, I was able to handle those students who decided to not make good decisions.
So, how will classes look? Well…we are going to school via a hybrid model. Basically, I’ll have a mix of some students in my class, some at home and some who come to class two days a week. I won’t lie, it’s pretty hard to juggle classes in this model. Its like, I have to make sure that my kiddos at home are getting enough attention and are staying on task and then I can’t neglect my kiddos in the classroom so it’s a struggle. I am going to remember to give myself grace because, this is new. Speaking of grace, we have to paint our tile and the word I’m choosing for my tile is “grace”. I have to remember to have grace with myself and my students. This is such a new thing that like it’s important to take each day at a time because you will get overwhelmed.
The first day went okay. The morning of the first day, I went to school in a hurry. I left my essential oils (I want to have a welcoming environment for my kiddos) and also my wig so I was upset. There was a video I wanted to show my students and couldn’t so I just told them to do it for homework. I had students have trouble logging into Teams (we’re not using Zoom anymore for live classrooms and to be honest, I’m sad) and I had other students who just used that chat function to chat with each other ALL DAY instead of being focused in class. So admin sent an email basically telling us to figure it out. I do miss having Zoom because we used to be able to control who they can talk to and if they could take themselves on and off mute. On Teams, so far, we can’t do that.
It was exciting to see those new sixth graders. They’re so little and it took me back to when I was first in middle school. I did see a few of my old babies and I was really happy to see them and I saw that they were alive and okay. Of course we have to have our masks on and its mandatory. I was bummed I couldn’t go over and give them hugs but I let them know I was excited to see them. So far, my new students are really sweet! At the beginning of the day, students are to grab their lunch on their way to the class and they eat in class. We all enter in one entry which I won’t lie, it freaks me out! Luckily I get to work early enough to not be surrounded by people. Same goes for when I leave for the day. We eat lunch in the class. The K-5 grades have lunch brought to them but the middle school students can walk down and get their lunch and then we come back and eat in the class.
It’s such a weird time right now. Teaching is going into an area where no one has charted before. Like, while it’s nice to have like seven students at most in class, it still felt weird. I have desks marked off and it feels cray cray. I understand why we do what we do. We want our kiddos safe. Obviously I’d prefer if we taught virtually but I also understand that some parents just cannot stay home. They have to go to work. Do I feel safe and secure? Nope if we’re being honest. I mean we have to take our masks off to eat but who knows if the students are carrying the virus. Some of them still wanted to share materials with their classmates but can’t to minimize the spread of the virus. Most of the students followed directions. A few others needed to be reminded. I get it. Its out of habit especially if its from a friend but we can’t spread the virus!
They gave us a tiny safety kit. I’m not kidding. It has some gloves, a small container of sanitizer and some wipes. It’s not a lot but it is a start! I understand that admin is doing the best that they can and I actually appreciate my principal. She gives her all and she’s so caring. I heard that the principal prior to her was a no nonsense and serious woman. At least with my principal, she’s firm but she’s caring! Anyway, I appreciate all that they are trying to do. Again, do I wish we were teaching virtually? Of course, I’d jump for joy if I get the call for remote learning but for now, we can’t. The parents will vote again in October on if they want to continue with the way that they have their child to learn.
By the end of the day, I was so ecstatic. I survived the first day and it was like a high. I had two students in my last class and ironically, they were sitting there after dismissal. We do silent dismissal at my school and I never had any experience with it so the student’s name popped up on the screen and she just sat there. I didn’t know so she sat there for about 20 minutes! I felt so embarrassed. The other student doesn’t speak English apparently so when they called for the walkers, he just sat there. The other student told him to leave on her way to her mom’s car because he sat there as well. So that was my whoops for the day.
Hopefully, things will go better this week. I’m sure there will still be some hiccups along the way but I’m going to give myself grace.
It you’re a teacher, what does the new school year look like for you? If you’re a parent, how comfortable are you with the way things are?