“So, *insert eyebrow raise*, how’s it going?”
Have you heard that one lately?
Yep. Me, too.
While it is a question that I am quite familiar with these days, it’s also a question that doesn’t always allow for a short and easy answer. I am, however, so grateful that people care and are curious about how things are going as school has started back up amidst a global pandemic. I find myself answering with the classic, “Well, it’s going!” or “You know, it’s going pretty well. The kids are having a great time back at school.” Something along the lines of an answer that’s easily digestible and honors the thoughtfulness of the person who’s checking in on me. The quiet part of my answer, however, takes up an ever-running and ever-present rolodex in the back of my mind. Not too far towards the back, though, just hovering there a step or two behind – hovering and existing, and dangerously close to bursting through my overtaxed mind levees and overflowing onto said unsuspecting inquirer.
Hybrid teaching is hard. It is ridiculously hard. It is, at its best, twice my job, and at its worst, quadruple (or more!) my job. And we all know that we got into teaching because it’s nice and easy, right? Uh huh. Okay. Sure.
So, how is it going? Well, if you’re satisfied with one of my answers from above, then I leave you with that, a smile, and a “see ya later!” You are free to go about the rest of your day. Thanks so much for checking in on me, I really appreciate it!
If you’re really truly wanting to know, then here’s an example of a typical day of school right about now:
- 4:30am Rudely woken up by a brain that won’t stop categorizing and double checking. Granted, this is not a teacher-specific phenomenon, nor is it one that only I experience. But I include it because it is a new constant to me and it is an unwelcome side effect of this particular school year.
- 4:45am Jot down my thoughts to get them out of my head, and grab a book to read and get re-tired again.
- 5:45am Fall back asleep. Hard. Lose all connection with this earthly realm.
- 5:55am Alarm goes off. Panic. Confusion. Dismay. Self-bargaining. Acceptance. Pep talks. Coffee (yeah, I’m on the decaf program, but still. It’s part of the routine.).
- 7:45am Pull into school.
- 7:50am Check my own temperature.
- 7:51am Check emails (with so many crossed fingers that it’s a little hard to work the computer). Say hi to my amazing teaching partner and have a few moments of doesn’t-life-feel-normal chat time.
- 8:00am Prepare for today’s cohort of in-classroom kids. Sort returned (and quarantined) books. Fill kids’ book boxes with new good-fit books. Copy writing paper. Pull read alouds. Make copies. Sanitize classroom. See if it’s warm enough to reattach the hoses on our outside handwashing station.
- 8:30am One on one online learning support with a distance learning student.
- 8:45am Open classroom doors, greet kids, take temperatures, send kids to the handwashing station and then inside to their assigned learning spot. Remind everyone about their 6′ bubbles.
- 9:00am Class starts. You know the deal – I do, we do, you do.
- 9:04am Remind kiddos to pull their masks up.
- 9:17am Remind kiddos to hang onto their 6′ bubbles.
- 9:50am Snack time. Everyone grabs their towel (to define 6′ bubbles whilst eating outside), snack, water bottle, hand sanitizer, and outside shoes, and heads outside for snack and recess.
- 10:15am Back to class, after hand washing. More of the good stuff – I do, we do, you do, my heart swells with pride as I see what you can do.
- 10:38am Randomly take a second to check email, see through said emails that I’ve forgotten to update today’s links for classes on our bitmoji classroom. Alarm. Confusion. Dismay. Try not to swear out loud, update links, respond to those particular emails, and then get back to class, hoping that everyone in class is still managing to independently do their thing.
- 11:00am Change class. Wash my own hands and head to the other half of our cohort. Enjoy and repeat the good stuff. Sprinkle in as many mask reminders as needed. They’re six and seven… it happens.
- 11:45am Last big academic class.
- 11:52am Outside mask break.
- 11:54am Back to class. Let’s do this.
- 12:35pm Lunch! Gather necessary materials, clean up workspaces, clean hands, and head outside to eat and to breathe fresh air.
- 12:39pm Remind unmasked eaters to stay in their 6′ bubbles.
- 12:47pm Be tempted to take a nap right there and then. It’s fall. It’s sunny. The colors are gorgeous. The breeze is blowing. Everyone is content. It would be so easy to just lay down on that soft towel and…
- 12:50pm Recess duty.
- 1:25pm Handwashing stations.
- 1:28pm Reading stamina. Yes! Everyone grabs a book and dives in. Resume heart swelling.
- 1:45pm Shuttle kids to art or music.
- 1:47pm Sanitize classroom.
- 1:53pm Check in on the distance learning kids. Watch flipgrid videos, double check attendance, cross all of my fingers, arms, and legs before I check emails again. Do the computer things that need doing.
- 2:00pm Frantically remember that I have “office hours” right now and hurry to see if anyone is requesting zoom time. Check in with whomever shows up. Smile because I’m so glad to see their faces.
- 2:20pm Go pee! (For the first time?! Really?! Not good, Kristina. Not good. Turns out, it’s hard to drink enough water when you’re wearing a mask all day long.)
- 2:30pm Kids come back, pack up their things, sanitize their spots, and head outside to get picked up.
- 2:55pm Big exhale. Come back to my desk. Watch and track the rest of the day’s flipgrid videos from the distance learning kids. Make notes of individual needs and/or questions – they’ll be in school soon and I can check in with them then.
- 3:45pm Record notes and next steps from small group work with the kids who were at school today.
- 4:00pm Record some videos to try and stay ahead of the distance learning crew. Feel successful in this, but also acknowledge that I feel more disconnected from what I’m actually going to teach tomorrow because my brain has been so entrenched in planning and recording these future lessons.
- 5:00pm Realize I have to get out of here.
- 5:04pm Whoopsies. Respond to those emails that I didn’t get to before.
- 5:30pm Sanitize the classroom. Close the windows. Turn out the lights. Shuffle to my car. Go home.
- 6:00pm Stumble up the stairs, and commence evening activities. I don’t even know what these are at this point because my brain is so dead. Apparently I make some food decisions, hang out with Mike, read a book to get my mind out of my reality, and collapse into bed to try and refuel for tomorrow.
Rinse and repeat daily, shuffling priorities around for after-school meetings and the rare escape to a sanity-saving 5:30pm hot yoga class. Except on Thursdays. Things get smushed on Thursdays because I am the teacher of that 5:30pm hot yoga class. It still saves my sanity. You should come.
To be clear: the intent of this crazy list is not to play the “woe is me” card or to insinuate that I have it worse than anyone else. That is 100% not true. Everyone is dealing with way more than they usually do. Everyone is maxed out. Everyone is losing their filters. Everyone has too much on their plates and not enough sleeps in the refuel tank. This crazy list is my crazy list and I am sure that your crazy list is just as baffling – if not more so. Part of me wanted to write it all out to see it all in one place. Part of me wanted to honor the ridiculousness of all of these pieces that have to happen at the same time. Part of me wanted to offer this list as a moment of solidarity for other hybrid teachers out there. Part of me wanted to paint an incredibly true picture for folks who really don’t know. Part of me wanted to give the for-real actual answer to that first question.
There it is. That’s how it’s really going for me. Honestly, I’m barely hanging on, my brain is more scattered than it’s been in 18 years of teaching first and second grade, and I’m not even sure what it would actually take to allow me to enter school in the morning feeling recharged, refreshed, and fully ready to go. AND it is such an honor to be able to connect with all of my students each day, whether in person or online, and see the growth that they are making as readers, writers, mathematicians, and kind, safe, and healthy human beings. All of it. All at the same time.
But now I’m curious…
How’s it going for you?
“This crazy list is my crazy list and I am sure that your crazy list is just as baffling…” Yes, you are correct. Taking one week at a time from where I am is my best survival tactic. After that, it is sleep, yoga, and laughter. We all need space for something that helps us breath, even for a moment.
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So true! 🥰