Even though we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, I’ve decided to put my degree to use: I’ve chosen to start teaching in a traditional classroom as well as conducting virtual teaching during COVID-19 times. So you might wonder what my first month of teaching has been like. Well, here’s the story.
I guess I should start with the hiring process. I was about to get laid off from my previous job and I didn’t want to move back home to live with my parents again (sorry mom and dad, I’m sure you get it). So I applied for 15 different teaching positions, ranging from city school systems to over two counties over school systems. I needed a job. Over the course of two weeks, I had lined up a week’s worth of interviews. Thankfully due to COVID-19, they were all over Zoom and I didn’t need real pants (LOL). However, I hadn’t heard back from any of the schools and I was starting to worry.
However, one day My fiancé and I were riding over to our friend’s house for dinner when I got a call. When I answered, the principal said, “Another principal recommended you to me, can you come in tomorrow morning for an interview?” Of course, I said yes. The next morning I went in with my resume and my pantsuit. All and all, I got hired in a day and started the very next day.
I met my team teachers and immediately fell in love with their personalities.
On Monday, everyone was running around trying to get back to how the things were at least a bit before everything was canceled last spring. My first three days were spent with no laptop. My fellow teachers were being trained for a new online learning platform and I didn’t even have an email! I took the first three days of the week cleaning my classroom, hanging bulletin boards, and organizing the 9 desks that were left in my classroom.
Our city system decided that all classes should be virtual for the first nine weeks of school. When school was about to start on Monday, I still had no idea how to use anything in this online program. I couldn’t even access it until Friday afternoon. All I could do was sit at my desk and cry in frustration. How was I supposed to be prepared for my students if I only had a weekend to get acquainted with the system and I had to move on the same weekend?
For the first week of school. I planned an awesome “get to know the platform” day and I had my Microsoft Team virtual meeting ready.
I got up early, grabbed some Dunkin coffee and donuts, got myself settled into my desk chair, and everything shattered before my very eyes. Microsoft Teams fell apart. My school computer microphone decided not to work so I couldn’t help my students out. Parents were sending emails in, to which I simply couldn’t respond. On top of that, my computer crashed! What a joy! The first day was a bust. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
As a result, I scrapped everything that I had planned for the first day of school. Every live meeting was held on the Google Meet app on my phone. We ended up learning how to use our online platform very slowly and getting to know each other very well. By the end of that week, I had cried every single night. I felt like a complete failure.
The second week of school. I talked with my team a little more during the planning phase for this week.
I got a Chromebook from my librarian and I could actually use Google Meet. My phone battery thanked me for the break. I started teaching real lessons and recording our live classes. My students never said it, but their parents told me how uncoordinated it all felt. I thought I was doing something great. Nevertheless, week two had significantly fewer struggles, but my team teachers were really straining to get things rolling. So we decided to change things up for the third week of school. Oh, and I also got engaged. We decided that we were going to plan a wedding for October. Of 2020. What a whirlwind!
Week three let’s go! We split up the course work and only had to worry about one subject at a time.
We recorded our lessons a day in advance and had them ready to play during the live portion of our lessons. Kids were learning and things started to really work themselves out. Until… the school board meeting. We nervously tuned in to the live meeting streamed on Facebook to find out that we had been figuring out how to use a virtual learning platform just to have it replaced by two new ones that “teachers raved about.” Did they ask our opinion? No. Were we pissed? Yes.
Then our virtual-only students were given the option to return to school. As well as pushing the in-person learning date up almost by two weeks, I now had to prepare my classroom to have actual human beings other than myself in there. Other than these minor setbacks, this week went pretty swimmingly. My students’ parents had a lot of nice things to say about it. Now, here we are at the end of week four. And let me tell you: This week has been crazy.
My fiancé started showing signs of COVID-19 so I had to leave school to get tested. Then I started showing symptoms. However, I kept teaching from home Nevertheless, due to all the stress, fewer and fewer students were joining the online classes. I felt like there was nothing I could have done to make that week any better. But I will keep trying, for my students.
Wish me luck as we go into my first week of in-school teaching. I pray things will go smoothly, but it’s 2020, baby. We all know it could get worse.