Friday the 13th is truly a jinxed day. Friday, March 13th proved no different as that was the last day of “normal” for me and my kids. The end of the marking period with a “get your grades entered now” mandate, meant that my kids worked a bit more independently that day and we didn’t have the back and forth that fills my classroom with joy. After the kids left, we learned that school was closed and 48 hours later the “new normal” started: online schooling. Most of us spent the weekend preparing and learning and getting ready to face our kids through a screen, if they had one. Our dining room became my defacto classroom.
We were of course in the throes of The Great Gatsby at that pivotal chapter when you really uncover the truths about Jay Gatz. But with no new curriculum allowed, we reverted to renew and enrich. The kids wanted a discussion so we quickly learned how to use Microsoft Teams and held a stealth conversation for those who wanted to attend. While we discussed the book, we really checked in on each other.
Now that’s it April, we’re in a routine of sort: weekly surveys (my kids love to fill out surveys), virtual office hours, lots of emails back and forth, Flipgrid morning messages. We’re holding our own. Keeping my kids in a routine is helping them I think. I worry about them especially when they tell me that they aren’t sleeping or are sleeping too much. If I don’t hear from a kiddo after a day or two, I call to make sure they are ok. We talk about if we will see each other again this year. I try to be reassuring even when I don’t feel very reassured myself.
I’m trying to use this “new normal” to build some skills. If you haven’t tapped into the WVDE yet consider doing so. They offer a plethora of virtual trainingsthat are excellent. Microsoft Teams has become a powerful tool for connecting with students and it’s fairly simple to use. Definitely download it versus using the internet version for better features.
Hang in there teacher friends. We have proven yet again to the residents of West Virginia that we are adaptable, confident, outstanding professionals. Who else could have made this complete shift in how they work with no training in a weekend? Keep an eye on your kiddos, give them routine and stay safe. We will weather this storm too and come out a slightly changed people soon.
WVCTE wants to know how you are taking care of yourself and your kids during this time?
Cheryl Stahle is a contributing blogger for WVCTE. She teaches at Parkersburg High School and is the Co-Director of the Central West Virginia Writing Project based out of Marshall University and is the Vice President of the Greater Kanawha Valley Reading Council. She is a not so regular tweeter @msstahleclass but you can find her on Instagram at @stahlecheryl. Cheryl presents professional development at local and state conferences throughout the year—make sure to stop by and introduce yourself