First Semester Wrap-up

True confession:  I. Am. Tired. The Energizer Bunny’s batteries have died.  We have one more week before winter/Christmas break at the academy.  Actually, it’s four days:  one full day with middle school exams beginning first period, and three half-days with all school exams (except for the lower school).  Although I teach part-time, I have covered classes for teachers well into the afternoon.  Don’t get me wrong; I love subbing in the other classes.  I have become the first grade “pet.”  I spent time with second grade this week. I enjoy spending time with our youngest students.  We play and read aloud and enjoy some fun books together.  Still, it’s exhausting moving from room to room throughout my five-hour day.

What I’ve learned during this year of being a traveling teacher is that organization is key.  I have a cart that I take from class to class.  I have the things I use daily:  folders for my three academic classes; “art supplies” for making interactive notebook pages (scissors, glue, markers, colored pencils, etc.); Chromebook; mouse; Bluetooth speaker; dry-erase markers, erasers, and board cleaner; pens and pencils; rulers. .  . .  Keeping up with the supplies is hard enough.  Then there are lesson materials, such my master notebooks for each class, handouts, assessments, etc.

I miss my classroom.  I know we will have one more semester of traveling from classroom to classroom.  Hopefully, with the release of the COVID vaccines, we will return to a normal day in 21-22!

Teaching in the midst of COVID has been challenging at best and downright frustrating at times.  Because we are a small school, class size has been limited to twelve pupils across the board.  We have been able to maintain the six-foot requirement for social distancing; students wear masks while in the hallways and in the restrooms.  Creating “pods” or cohort groups has minimized the need to shut down whenever students test positive for this novel coronavirus.

We have also implemented some interesting new programs, if you will.  i was telling my husband this morning that the academy has been proactive rather than reactive in some aspects.  Last night, I heard a news story about a report from the University of South Carolina medical school’s survey of schools and the increase of mental health issues among both students and faculties.  Our head of school had organized with another independent school training for mental health first aid weeks before shutting down for the pandemic was even “a thing.” I participated in that training.  It has been an eye-opener.  I am much more aware of the needs of our students because of this training.  I urge you to participate in this training, or something similar, if at all possible. This one-pager from the Mental Health First Aid blog has some interesting statistics.

Another stressor has been keeping students who have been quarantined in the loop of instruction.  I have used GMeet and GClassroom to connect with students when they are absent.  The biggest difficulty for me, though, is the set-up.  In each classroom, I have to set up the computer, log into GClassroom and Meet, figure out how to share the screen with students who are at home, adjust the sound (which may mean using an external microphone), etc.  All this takes time from instruction.

I would love to read your solutions to hybrid and traditional teaching during the pandemic as well as suggestions for teacher self-care.


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