Teachers, Prepare to Be Flexible
It’s the first week of August, and teachers everywhere are preparing for the strangest, riskiest, and potentially most stressful school year. 2020–2021 marks my 22nd year in the classroom. (And yes, my school is starting with 80% of our students in the classroom).
I teach 5th grade in a smallish independent school. There are around 250 students from prekindergarten through 8th grade. We have the resources to spread out, provide technology, and change our campus to meet the needs of our families (many of them are essential healthcare workers) in this crazy COVID world.
We will teach at school until the virus hits our community and/or the government issues stay at home orders.
I write this from my classroom. Tape is stuck on the floor to mark where desks will go in order to keep students learning 6 feet apart. I have put away any previously shared art supplies until some unknown future. I am preparing to change my mindset and my educational philosophy somewhat. My days will be filled with echoing reminders to students to keep masks above the nose, wash hands, don’t share this and that, spread out.
I will have to be super-organized, vigilant, disciplined, and orderly. I will go to the other room to teach reading and writing to the other class instead of them coming to me. My cart will become my second classroom.
My son and I are preparing a daily system for when we get home- removing clothes at the door, getting a towel, heading for the shower, doing the laundry.
I am still excited about setting up my room, planning for the first six weeks, making labels and bulletin boards, getting to know my new students. I am a teacher.
We can do this.
Even though we will prepare and think through all the logistics of how we will teach at school and through a webcam for those kids whose parents have chosen off campus learning, who knows what will happen? We will prepare to switch to distance learning on the fly (but better than we could last spring). We will try to maintain relationships with our colleagues, even though we will be confined to our bubbles. We will learn technology and teach it to each other, and we will all grow in our careers.
But we must remain flexible. This may not work out. It is hard to prepare for that.
Samantha Lazar 2020
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