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Pandemic Teaching: Entry I

‘Rona Teaching: Week 1: (8-3-20 to 8-7-20)

Year 19 of teaching is going to be a strange one. Here in Clark County we are starting the year with all-distance online learning and teaching. Because this is so unique I thought it would be worth writing a diary to talk about the changes and the differences in teaching during a worldwide Pandemic. I will attempt to do an entry every week. At least until we are back in person full time.

On my report back date I checked in and worked alone in my room while attending our virtual first-day meetings. Upon entering my room I was overwhelmed with emotion. The pictures of my kids. Some of the outstanding work from previous students on the wall. My posters and knicknacks around the room. The desks crammed together in order to fit as many students as possible. I don’t know when I will be back teaching in my room and I think that made it even more poignant.

With all of this remorse over the lost “normal”, I realize there are also a lot of opportunities and even reasons for optimism. In the 21st century the world is a rapidly changing and evolving place. Our education system has not always kept pace. We as an institution have at times been slow to embrace change. We are now being forced to adapt. I don’t think K-12 public education will continue to be an online only experience, there are too many things missed when we do an all or nothing approach. But, we as educators, are having to be more innovative and quicker to react during this pandemic. I hope these changes will make education even more relevant and applicable for our students.

I believe we will continue to succeed in helping to prepare our students for the challenges of the 21st century even during this unprecedented time. This provides a reason for optimism. When we as public educators again prove how vital we are to society we can help quiet the call from some who want to defund public education. I know we will again demonstrate how public education is the best opportunity for students of all backgrounds to be successful.This gives us the opportunity to come out of this pandemic as a stronger educational institution and to show the naysayers how essential public education is to our country.

This first week has been stressful and overwhelming. We are having a lot of challenges thrown at us as teachers. We have to learn new programs. We have to change the way we teach our kids. We have to adjust our approach to our teaching styles that we have been doing for years, if not decades. I know we are up to it as educators. We have a lot of anxiety, but so do our students. We will put on our teacher faces and reach our students in new ways this year.

We will all get through this. At the same time we all crave some more “normalcy.” As I was celebrating my recent birthday, which has always marked the waning of summer and the approach of a new school year, my dad sent a prudent birthday wish, “I hope that you won’t have to celebrate another birthday during a pandemic.” I think that is a good wish. I want to go even a little further. I hope that this will be the only year that I have to start the school year during a pandemic. I would like this for a number or reasons. First off, I think of my son. I don’t want him to have to miss out on any more recesses, school lunches in the cafeteria with friends, and all of the other little moments that make school and childhood memorable. Those things don’t happen at home during distance learning. I also don’t want my students to ever have to go through this again. They are missing out on once in a lifetime high school events that won’t happen again. Lastly, I certainly don’t want to do this again. I miss my second home, my classroom. I miss the human interaction. I miss the hustle and bustle of a school and the madness of the opening to a school year. Here’s to 2020 being the only time we have to start the school year during a pandemic.

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