- When the pandemic started, educators around the globe were thrown into unchartered territory.
- Educators had to quickly learn how to adapt lessons to be online, and students had to adapt to the use of new technology as well.
My purpose in blogging is to work through and process thoughts, happenings, and feelings throughout my teaching career. I’m hoping that through my blogs, I can help someone who may be experiencing the same thoughts and feelings as I have.
Teaching During a Pandemic: This Is Where I Was
Have you ever felt like your purpose for teaching has been ripped away from you? Lost and not sure what to do?
This is where I was at in March of 2020!
At first, I was shocked, as I’m sure most of us were, when my state’s governor announced that he was closing all K-12 schools for three weeks. This announcement came at the end of the school day on March 12, 2020. My student teacher and I stood quiet and still. We both just looked around the classroom not saying anything. When we finally faced each other, we both were wide-eyed with our mouths opened. My district then announced that Friday, March 13 would be our last day until further notice.To better myself for my students, I needed that time to figure out how to change things up and do things differently. Click To Tweet
Teaching During a Pandemic: I told my student teacher, “One day at a time.”
We had one day to plan and prepare for the next three weeks of virtual learning. So many questions!! How could I lead my student teacher into this uncharted territory? How can I meet all my students’ needs with no contact other than Google Classroom? And how do I even teach virtually?
Heading into that Friday, our last day with students in person, we were unsure of what to plan for. My district had not given us any direction of what virtual time would look like. Our principal couldn’t even give advice as to what we would be doing.
So many questions from my students throughout the day. Students were fearful of actually being in school at that time. Most were unusually quiet and so many were absent, so we couldn’t let them know how we would be reaching out to them. I felt so helpless not knowing what to tell them. The only thing I could tell them was to check for announcements on Google Classroom.
We made it through that Friday and tried to comfort and reassure students that all would be okay.
As I packed the classroom up, I had tears streaming down my face. We were unsure of how we were going to head into the world of virtual teaching. I told my student teacher, “One day at a time.”
Teaching During a Pandemic: My district is not 1:1. How am I going to reach my students who do not have technology?
One good thing heading into this time of virtual learning is that I had been using the GRID Method with my classes. My students were “masters” at using the GRIDs. I’d been posting my GRIDs with hyperlinks to the learning opportunities on Google Classroom in the “Classwork” tab all year. So this is something that I could keep consistent. Something normal, in a time of very “not normal.” The only twist, each learning opportunity would be posted as an assignment instead of content. Not hard, right?
I was a newbie to posting assignments on Google Classroom. During this time I made so many mistakes! At first, I wasn’t posting my assignments to make a copy for each student. I’d get messages telling me they couldn’t type on the assignment. I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took me to figure out what was happening. Another “Google Classroom gotcha” was that my assignments were not too digital-friendly, and when students handed it in, it was a mess formatting wise. I also have to admit that I didn’t know what it looked like on the student end, so I actually gave them misinformation in a video explaining how to hand assignments in. Thankfully, one of my students told me and I was able to correct my video.
BUT, my district is not 1:1. How am I going to reach my students who do not have technology? That first week in virtual learning just felt like everything stood still. Yes, I had a few students interacting on Google Classroom. But so many did not have the capability to, and so many just chose not to.
Teaching During a Pandemic: I was crushed by the lack of participation by my students.
My principal finally reached out with good news. Each family in our district would receive one Chromebook! News spread fast, and most of my students had their family Chromebook by the end of the second week.
For two weeks I had no face-to-face with my students and most were not active on Google Classroom. My district sent us videos of how to use something called “Zoom.” I remember feeling hopeful and scheduled my first Zoom call with my students.
For my first Zoom call, I had a total of four students show. I was so happy just to see that these four were ok. BUT, I was desperately concerned about my other 129 students. I work in a school where the majority of the students are at the poverty level and so many are at risk. I was crushed by the lack of participation by my students! Not because they weren’t doing the work. But because, if they needed help or resources, I would not know. I felt like my purpose was ripped from me![scroll down to keep reading]
So, I started diving into a lot of things for me!
As time went on, it became evident that we would not be returning in person for the rest of the year.
I’d spent my days grading what was handed in, holding one zoom call where students could drop in for help on lessons or just to chat, and attending different PDs or webinars that covered topics regarding teaching virtually. I learned how to efficiently navigate Google Classroom, made a Google Site, AND I made a virtual classroom using Bitmojis.
I started diving into a lot of things for me! To better myself for my students, I needed that time to figure out how to change things up and do things differently. I needed that time to redefine who I was as a teacher!
Part 2 coming soon!
About Candace Miller
Candace Miller is an educator who believes that each student is capable of learning. She understands that connecting with students is key. Her passion is helping students with basic needs. Candace orchestrated the set up of a care corner in her school where students can go and shop for free items that they need. Her other passions include her family, camping, being in nature, reading and crafting (mainly using her cricut machine).
Candace started her education career in Lansing, Michigan. She took ten years away from education to be a stay at home mom for her son. Candace is currently teaching high school science in the Columbus area of Ohio where she is part of her school’s teacher leadership program. She previously taught ESL science in a sheltered science class. Candace is honored to be a founding ambassador for the Teach Better Family and is excited to collaborate with others in the Teach Better Family to be a better teacher.