Why is this so hard? This is a question I have asked myself over and over again as I have planned for instruction throughout this distance learning work for the past three and a half weeks.
I have 29 years of teaching experience.
I am teaching a grade level I have taught for 7 years.
I am teaching content I have taught for 7 years!
Why is this so hard?
So here are some of my answers.
- Teachers are by nature ‘people’ people. We live to work with, be with, collaborate with, spend time with… people! We have lost that right now. Sure we can do it through any number of video conferencing apps, but that’s not it. I miss my morning coffee with my colleague when we share random ‘stuff’- our families, our hobbies, funny things we’ve read, etc. I miss the many ‘check ins’ with my friends who I have worked with for over 20 years. I can text, sure. Not the same. This is hard.
- Kids… I miss my kids. Yup… seeing them virtually to. But I miss the banter in the morning as they arrive. I miss the check in discreetly as they work. I miss watching them on the playground. I miss their silly conversations. I miss teaching them. I miss how easy it was to teach them when they were standing right there. This is hard.
- Curriculum… here’s the thing. I work in a good sized district and have amazing coaches and consultants who work tirelessly to support teachers. They truly are amazing. They have worked determine standards to teach and provided materials. Amazing stuff… truly. But here’s the thing… we’re also a workshop district. And I LOVE workshop. I spent most of last week trying to make this workshop… creating materials (virtual notebooks) and pausing in my videos to have them follow the structure of a workshop. It’s hard.
- Autonomy is gone. OK… so that may be a little dramatic, but the reality is you have to keep things somewhat streamlined when you are working across schools. So we are all working towards standards. We are mandated to complete videos, but not too many. We are asked to communicate, but not too much. We are told to provide consistency, but not grade anything. That is REALLY hard.
- Everything takes longer. Meetings. Assignments. Feedback. All of it takes longer than if we were all in one place.
THEN: I can ask you a question and get a response. Two minutes. NOW: I draft an email. I wait for you to respond. I respond back. Time. Time. And more time.
THEN: I ask my kids to open up their notebooks and write down five things they could write related to social issues. Three minutes. NOW: Create a Google Doc. Write the directions or videotape yourself explaining the directions. Anticipate questions. Answer said questions. Post the assignment, Schedule the assignment. Answer any and all questions about the assignment. At least an hour.
So this is hard. I know some parts will be easier. But… admitting that it’s hard. Knowing that it’s hard. And accepting the hardship… that is half the battle.