Normally, by about mid-July I start feeling excited about the upcoming school year. However, this year I spent mid to late July studying Google Suite in preparation to teach remotely. Except then we found out we wouldn’t be teaching remotely. Except we would be teaching some of our students remotely. At the same time that we were teaching the rest of the class in person.
This summer has been one frustrating complication after another. Other countries that had tighter restrictions saw their numbers of new cases sharply decline. However, at both of my summer jobs, while I was required to wear a mask, most of our customers did not. And surprise, surprise, this was the result:
I can juggle numbers all day.
While I live near Chattanooga (hot spot), I teach at the south end of the county, which is the opposite direction from the city. 4 in 5 people with COVID recover without requiring hospitalization. And even among those who are hospitalized, most recover, although we still don’t fully understand the long-term effects of the virus.
Overall, my odds are relatively good, all things considered. Unfortunately, that isn’t particularly comforting.
Monday was teachers’ first day of pre-planning. During the first meeting with the entire faculty (practicing physical distancing by sitting two seats apart in every other row) we were informed that the Chromebooks that had been ordered so that each student could be issued one were delayed in shipping. We have no idea when they’ll arrive.
We also can’t use the Chromebooks that we already have, because students aren’t allowed to share devices.
We have class sets of novels and textbooks. Students aren’t allowed to share those either.
Currently, about 20% of my students are signed up to attend class remotely while the other 80% attend in person. I’m supposed to teach them simultaneously. However, the first three weeks (until Labor Day), parents are allowed to make changes to enrollment. So I have no way of knowing how that will end up… which is pretty much par for the course, I guess.
Oh, and in addition, students who are enrolled as digital learners do not have to begin attending class until the 20th, while students who are enrolled for in-person instruction are supposed to show up tomorrow (the 13th). And beyond that, digital learners are not to be held responsible for any instruction or work during the week they were not required to attend.
However, all of that, I can work with. I’ve made a tentative plan for how to introduce the web apps I plan to use before we actually get our promised technology. I have backup and contingency plans based on potential problems I’m aware of, and I’ve even got some foundational “if nothing else works, we can do this” plans as well.
Yesterday afternoon, when all of those ideas and plans began to move from “taking shape” to “coming together,” I finally, finally began to feel excited about the new school year. Two days before students would return, I was finally looking forward to my new classes.
I was hoping that excitement was going to be what I wrote about this evening. But instead, it’s leaking out of me as I keep seeing articles and memes and posts and comments complaining about teachers and mocking their concerns. Because I remember the articles and memes and posts and comments back in March. Do you remember those? About how teachers are heroes? And how people will never complain about supply lists or teacher frustrations or question teachers’ judgment?
If we’re honest, we must admit that our expectations of teachers (and other “essential workers”) have changed dramatically. These workers have had no input in those changes. Nor has there been appropriate compensation for the increase in expectations. And while I will make certain that I respond professionally, that does not mean that I will be silent about injustice and abuse.