Tuesday, July 21, 2020
My sad, empty classroom after I cleaned it up during my 3 hour window. We were not allowed in our rooms from March 16ish-end of May.
I don’t know if you are ready to talk about this, but I wanted to, to the very least, share my feelings at this juncture for posterity – as a sort of way to journal and remember where I am at this point. I understand if you want to skip today’s post, but I would also love some healthy dialogue in the comments.
I have conflicting feelings, you all. I feel a bit differently as a parent than I do as a school employee. I am relieved that my boys are finished with their k-12 education, because this is a very hard position to be in. I hear some of my social media friends and blog friends saying they are having to make a really tough choice right now – even though things are constantly changing – about whether their children should go to “school” or do school virtually. I use quotes because we all know this will be nowhere near normal. I read one of my long time bloggers who is now only on Instagram say that she decided to homeschool for this year. If it’s something you have always wanted to try, then I say this is a great time to try it.
But, I want to make a point – the fact that you can choose means that you are privileged to do so. Some people will not be able to choose – for many different reasons. And, I can’t even imagine the guilt if you feel like you made the “wrong” decision. This is a horrible position to be in.
Our beloved daycare/preschool we used from age 4 months – kindergarten has been open for quite some time and is doing well with the restrictions. Maybe the smaller groups are even better and should be our new normal. But, this means that some of their employees were let go or sent to other centers. There will always be some bad with the good. I heard on the news that we should let our daycare centers be our guides with how to do school. I’m not sure I totally agree with that. It’s a whole different ball game. I do think we should look to other countries and see how they got back to school or how they will get back to school.
If you are currently facing this decision, I feel for you. I think you need to look at your family’s situation – do you have anyone immuno-compromised? Is your child in need of the school even if it isn’t the same? How did your child do from March-May? What is your work situation and your husband’s work situation? Remember that schools, teachers, students, and parents were forced to quickly change everything up last March and that whatever happens virtually this year is sure to be much better and smoother for all involved. At least, I hope that it the case.
If you decide to or have to go virtually is it appropriate in your situation to open up your circle a bit more? I think it is. You may have a grandparent or aunt or neighbor or school small groups that you want to form. If you are able to have a set of guidelines and all are being careful and you are all on the same page, this may work for you. Some people might say that this is no different than going to school so why aren’t we in school, but I disagree. This is a much more controlled environment of your choosing. I have been amazed by the creativity that has come out of this experience – and maybe this is another opportunity to think outside the box and question if we should keep doing things the way we have always done them. Do what is right for you and your family is what I think.
I cannot stress this enough – whatever your school and your family decides – your attitude is super important for you and for the kids. Take a deep breath and know that the school will help you. Communicate. Go to any and all Zoom meetings. Write down questions. Form a support group with a few other parents. This is not permanent. This is temporary. Even though it feels so hard when you are in the thick of it, it will not last forever. Remember back to March-May. Now we have some perspective on that time period but it was so hard and scary when we were in it!
My Kids: (I have identical twin boys who are starting college!)
As of right now, my boys have dorm assignments and roommates. They are in two different dorms at a small, private liberal arts college only about 20 minutes from home. I am super worried that this will change if our numbers keep rising. We do have a state wide mask mandate but some people are fighting it and some of our elected officials are even suing our governor for this mandate. I don’t go to many places, but I am happy to report that all of the places require masks to enter and everyone seems to be respectful of this.
So for move in day, my kids will sign up for a 2 hour slot to keep numbers down. Then, there are activities for freshmen planned for 3 days before classes start. There is even a family activity one night? We have a vague schedule for now with more details coming later – again I am wondering if this is a bit on hold because of our current climate. Maybe they are waiting to send out final details. I am so worried that this will not happen. And, they will do health screenings, temperature checks, and wear masks.
The college has said that they will have smaller groups for classes – not sure what that means exactly. They already have a 11-1 student-faculty ratio so my husband and I are wondering if life will be more “normal” at a small college, rather than if they had chosen large universities. Both boys have a schedule already! It seems so light compared to what they did in high school with 7 classes each and activities after school. I remember thinking that about my own freshman schedule. I attended a different small, private liberal arts college. I couldn’t believe how much time was on my hands after a very busy senior year. They have plans in place to reduce numbers and space out in communal areas.
The college plans to break for the first semester at Thanksgiving with no long weekends or fall break or anything like that – and do the last two weeks online. They do plan to bring students back in January but I know some colleges plan to wait until February. Who knows where we will be by then? I pray for all of us that we will see the light at the end of the tunnel.
So, that’s where we are with my precious children. I cannot tell you how much better I feel that they will be close, they will be at the same school, and that the college has bent over backwards to help make us feel connected – especially in this current situation. The college has hosted an online orientation for both students and parents, advising meetings for the kids, major mixers for the kids (you meet virtually with other kids in your major), a parent virtual happy hour, sent the freshmen a pair of socks with their logo and a note saying “you’re one step closer”, sent a bandana with the school logo, and lots and lots of emails with information. I am super impressed with the effort they have gone to – not sure if this is what they always do or not!
I am starting to really get sad about them moving out, but there is always a silver lining. With everything we have gone through since March, I will be joyous if this gets to happen because I am so scared that it won’t.
My job: (high school Spanish teacher)
This photo is of students from Mexico teaching my students how to do some traditional dances last year. This kind of stuff can’t happen right now obviously, and it simply breaks my heart. This is the stuff that the kids remember and what spices up the classroom!
I teach in the largest school district in Kentucky. We serve aorund 100,000 kids. Our superintendent has recommended that we start the school year virtually for at least the first 6 weeks of school – until the end of September. But, where will we be in September with flu season starting? This round of virtual school will have a better structure that includes more training for teachers. We will train for two weeks before starting. Last March, we had little to no time to get things going and we are kind of a late adapter to technology with us being such a big district. The school board will be voting on this tonight so I will let you know.
For the 2020-21 school year, this is not what I wanted, but I could not wrap my head around how we would go back with my school of 2000 students and the 150 students I personally serve a day and the other 50 ish people (staff) I encounter on a daily basis. I miss my classroom and my students terribly and this is such a big part of who I am. I have now been a teacher longer than I haven’t been a teacher! I started at age 22 and this will be my 27th year. Once I heard this proposal and the fact that it will probably pass, my stress levels went down several notches, though. I was already running through all of the possible scenarios and to be frank, I was scared to death. This virus is liking playing Russian Roulette. Yes, for most it is mild, but for some it is anything but mild. Maybe we will look back and say we were too cautious, but I would way rather say that than we weren’t careful enough.
So, technology is not my strongest ability, but I did pretty well using Google Classroom and various platforms virtually. I have a ton to learn but I am up for the challenge – I hope!
I hope to have a good attitude and not worry about the things that I can’t change – easier said than done! I am very much a type A, control freak kind of person in both my professional and personal life. I have worked on this and my husband has helped me a lot. I have also mellowed considerably as I have gotten older.
Let me know your thoughts!
Thanks for reading,