003 Teaching in the Time of Corona

(Special Lengthy Stuck-In-Your-House Edition)

Show Notes

In this episode Jen, Sharyn and I discuss how we’re keeping sane at home, while teaching in the time of Corona. Then we get into the good, the bad, and the crazy of Emergency Remote Teaching. Finally, I interview two “Teacher Mommies” who are navigating how to manage homeschooling their own small children while trying to each everyone else’s.

We recorded this from our own homes (you know, practicing responsible social distancing), using a combo of Zoom (who wishes they had stock in that company now?) and the Anchor App which lets us call in and use our cell phones as mics. The audio isn’t always perfect and I had to do a lot of editing when the Internet quit or slowed or whatever it does when a bizillion people are all on at the same time. So be gentle in your criticisms.

In any case, I hope you find this entertaining, and informative or  well, maybe you just need some background noise to fill the void your real friends would if you were out to lunch with them at the local restaurants that are all closed up. Whatever your motivation for listening is, we’ll take it!

My Thoughts on Teaching in the Time of Corona

Teaching in the time of Corona has caused educators have to change their teaching in order to convert to remote classes. How teachers approach this will depend on how comfortable they are with technology. And more importantly, how adaptable to the new demands that this type of learning brings. Each of us will dive into this in our own way. For me it came with a song.

There’s the Knack for that

If you know the song by The Knack that rhymes with “corona”, you’ll get the pun and now you probably have the song stuck in your head  substituting “Corona” for “Sharona.” Sorry about that. This virus, too, is hard, to get out of our heads. We are inundated with information (and non-information) about this Covid-19 thing. Every news feed on my phone. Just about every channel on TV. Every podcast in my feed (including this one). 

My Corona.

My Corona began on March 13, a Friday no less. We left school about 95 percent sure that this would be our last school day for a while. That was later confirmed with an “all call” to the entire school district community. It was the now familiar, blah, blah, blah, abundance of precaution speech.

I can’t lie, a BIG part of me was happy. Yay! Early summer! Uhh not so fast.

M-m-m-my Corona

The following Monday we were seated in the multi-purpose room in seats set six feet apart. The principal shared the district’s vision for how we should be teaching in the time of Corona. We were also given the expectations for continuing the school year online. We visited our classrooms, grabbed what we needed, locked up our cupboards and went home. Time to figure out how to translate our classroom lessons into Internet accessible ones. 

My, my, my, aye-aye, whoa, Corona!

Ay-ay-ay,  was right! The first two weeks were madness. Seemed like I was working 24 hours a day. When work invades your home, the two become somehow indistinguishable. Do some laundry. Type an assignment. Walk the dog. Answer emails. Cook dinner. Play the piano. Grade some papers. FaceTime with family. You get the idea.

When you gonna give me some time, Corona?

Posting the work wasn’t too bad. Our students were already familiar with how to use Chromebooks and all things Google. But what was difficult, was managing the seemingly constant barrage of texts, emails, GroupMe and Remind messages coming from every which way. Keeping up with grading work being turned in, proved very time consuming. Grading online actually requires an extraordinary amount of clicks and waiting for pages to load. With everyone suddenly on the Internet gobbling up bandwidth, that wait could sometimes run at a snail’s pace.

Zoom Meetings took the place of staff meetings, planning time with departments, conferencing with students, troubleshooting tech with teachers, and committee meetings.  Okay, I admit, there have been a few virtual Zoom “happy hours” with friends. One does need to maintain one’s sanity in isolation. By the end of the evening my eyes were definitely suffering from an overabundance of disruptive blue light.

Is it just a matter of time, Corona?

We were supposed to return at the end of our spring break, April 13 (funny, another 13!), but that was pushed back to May 1st. Finally, the idea of returning to school was cancelled altogether. Logical, as I didn’t see the Corona Virus magically disappearing on a particular date. Some schools cancelled the year. Thus relieving teachers of attempting to provide an education by a means few of us have been trained to do. 

Is it d-d-destiny, d-destiny?

This is NOT online teaching. We haven’t had time to develop courses with distance learning in mind. That’s a whole other ball game.  We have many students who are not participating for a variety of reasons out of our control. As a result, so we cannot hold them accountable for any assignments they fail to do.  The lessons that come from face-to-face interactions in real time cannot be duplicated no matter how many video Zooms take place. The ability for a teacher to walk around the room and gauge student understanding or stop by the desk of one who is struggling is unavailable.

The best we can hope for is a maintenance of skills, practice in organization, and responsibility. But what will be interesting, is to see how this experience will change the way we teach once we return to our classrooms. Will teachers finally receive the credit and respectability we so deserve?  From parent’s comments online, it certainly seems so. Many are having issues getting their own children work. Now, can they  imagine doing that with a class of 38?  

My Corona

So what really is “My Corona?” It’s an appreciation for the students who are trying and the parents that are helping them. The sense of community and the value I feel towards my colleagues. It’s actually really talking to people, rather than texting them. It is valuing the fact that I’m still healthy, that my kids are, my family is. It’s seeing that some places on earth are less polluted (albeit temporary???) It’s spending time doing things I’ve been putting off like playing the piano, painting, learning photoshop, working on the podcast. It’s sleeping in and taking naps. Binge watching too many TV shows and not caring. Not having to put on make-up or get out of my sweatpants. I’m sure this feeling is the same for many people. 

Bye Corona

I don’t know when this whole thing will end, but it will eventually. When that time comes, I hope I’ve made use of  this “gift.” I won’t take for granted the many things I did before I was stashed away in my home. I hope the world is kinder and more connected. We are all going through this together ( a long shot, but it’s good to err on the side of optimism). Teaching in the time of Corona definitely has some value.

So, let’s all virtually join hands, click below  and Kumbaya a song together. You know how to change the lyrics, now.

Anyway, that’s just my opinion.

Here are links to websites Dana and Angel suggest using for help with learning at home:

Got any other great resources for helping parents and teachers out during this thing, please leave a comment or voice message.

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