By: Teresa Marchant
As we inch our way toward Winter Break, I have never felt more like a tightrope walker learning how to juggle. This year has been a constant balancing act between managing digital and face to face instruction combined with finding resources that work in either setting. Now add the lack of substitutes due to quarantine requirements for staff members, and it truly feels like every day is a new “circus act”.
My Daily Schedule
My job has been flipped upside down since my school opted for a hybrid model and some students receiving fully online instruction. I am responsible for teaching all my students regardless of their location. For those students on campus, each class is split into two sections: morning and afternoon. Our elementary students are on campus for three hours a day. The schedule is extremely tight with teachers focused on priority and power standards with additional lessons pushed out remotely to on-campus students.
For the most part, it has been going pretty well. Recently, our covid cases increased to the point that we are considered a “hot spot”. Like most states, we had a substitute shortage before we had covid. This past week surrounding school districts announced that they are going fully remote due to lack of staffing. It’s anyone’s guess how long we stay open to teaching in-person.
There have been many positive outcomes from this plan. First of all, class sizes are significantly smaller which means fewer behavior problems and more time to build relationships. Also, there is less transition time (no lunch or recess) so more time is spent teaching and learning. It will be interesting to see how our winter test scores compare to previous years. Finally, it has been nice to find companies that offer free trials of their programs. This is a great way to see if it will work with our situation.
Just as I am learning to balance teaching, I am learning to balance the selection of resources. I have been fairly cautious but have added a few items to my wish list. I’m reluctant because I know that purchasing versatile resources is important and some items may need cleaning due to sharing if used in a face to face setting. Having an LMS that integrates with other resources has been invaluable. I quickly learned edpuzzle and screencastify and loved how easy it was to add to my virtual classroom. Over the past few months, I have spent time looking for digital downloads. This has been a complete waste of time because our district is discouraging the use of worksheets. At this point, I am leaning toward resources that can be used in a virtual setting as opposed to face to face as they may be the wiser use of school funds.
I thought by now I would have a clearer view of the rest of the year since it is the end of the trimester. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it will be any different in the coming months – meaning continued balancing act. I need to keep my focus on what’s really important and that is educating my students with the best possible resources. Until things change, I will keep balancing and doing my part!