The dark circles under my eyes have returned.
The fatigue is deep and familiar–it feels like January tired.
And, today is only my third day of teaching in the hybrid model!
My husband asked me how the first day went. I replied: “It was not my best opening day.”
On the first day, I taught sans caffeine and eyeglasses. I had no time for coffee, and with each utterance, my glasses fogged. The mask impeded sight and sipping. So basically, I was blind and dull.
The second day, which was slightly better, was not my best day, either.
Today is the third day–virtual-only day–the day I go to my classroom, but all students remain home.
My school’s hybrid model includes cohort A students attending school on Mondays and Thursdays, while cohort B students attend on Tuesdays and Fridays. When not in school, or for students who are remote-only, students join every class period via Google Meet while the teacher live-streams their lessons.
This model seems practical at first glance. Heck, we are in the middle of the pandemic, but in upstate New York, where I teach high school social studies, our virus numbers are low. It is time to return to school. We all need the structure and the connection. I am trying to be positive, but I wonder if the hybrid model is the best approach?
Students have dutifully donned masks, sat in designated seats six feet apart, and have ceased to mingle in the halls between classes. The once vibrant halls are ghostly.
Teachers have four minutes between back-to-back classes where they must clean “used” desks and seat the incoming class in “unused” seats.
I feel sort of like a busboy. Click To Tweet
Once students “arrive,” teachers take attendance via Google Meet for the virtual students and recognize the actual students. I have never been “good” at attendance. My brain is always on the main entree–how I will deliver a delicious lesson to my students–attendance is an annoying necessity.
During the entire thirty-seven minute lesson, I am serving two masters. I want to engage both groups–because all students matter. I am delivering a new lesson every day, so I must try to connect with all students each period. I could lecture, but I know that is not teaching. Without interaction, lecturing is simply the teacher talking–it is too passive. Instead, I have an arsenal of technology and techniques at my disposal.
However, technology is only useful if it works.
Upon returning home on the second day, my daughter, a sophomore at my school, inquired about my day. I told her that it was slightly better than the first, but I had a student making farting-like and other distracting noises while on Google Meet. It is never a positive sign to call a parent on the second day of school!
My daughter, who is in cohort A, told me that she could not hear or see some of her teachers well and that her younger sister while playing Roblox, sucked all the bandwidth from the internet connection. She felt disconnected and wanted desperately to be back in the school building five days a week.
After hearing about my daughters’ remote days, I became nervous. Was the second day that much better? Did my students at home, especially my remote-only students, actually learned anything from me over the first two days? Were those days wasted energy? If so, I am exhausted for nothing?
Today, I decided to post a Google Form survey for my students concerning how well the technology is working. It is not yet 8 am and the over twenty plus responses reveal my students’ reality–learning from home is a technological nightmare. Teachers will need to make big changes.
How sustainable is this live-streaming hybrid model? How much content can successfully be delivered? Why is New York State holding school districts to requirements of the past (like fire drills, lock-down drills, the 180-day attendance, and standardized tests) in the middle of a freaking pandemic? We cannot teach like before, how can a school function like it did in the past?
Many school leaders have embraced the hybrid and live-stream teaching model. I appreciate that it sounds like the best plan on paper. Unfortunately, like any cannabis-induced idea, hybrid live-stream learning seemed like a great plan that, in reality, will (I fear) only lead to frustration and burn-out.
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