It’s been an entire year since our teaching lives have turned upside down. Wheww ! I remember thinking, two weeks and that’s it . I can adjust for two weeks right ? Wrong ! I mean I wasn’t completely wrong, I definitely could adjust , but as we all know it would be a whole lot longer than two weeks. Here we are a little over a  year since lockdown and virtual teaching, and boy has it been a journey. I finished out the rest of my first year virtual , taught summer school virtually and have been virtual for this entire school year , right up until today , the first day of hybrid instruction . Here are four things  I learned during this whole virtual teaching ordeal.

Classroom Cleanup
Cleaning Up My Classroom Mid-Pandemic May 2020

#1 : Give Grace 

 It is  a phrase I’ve been hearing so much , not just amongst other educators and administrators, but so many people in general as they navigate this new normal. We’re told to ease up , give ourselves grace and give the students grace. While this phrase is being said over and over again , the reality is that it is not always being put into action, not well enough, at least from my perspective. Giving grace is something I truly tried to embed in my daily practice as a teacher this entire school year.  Giving grace to myself , to my students , my families and any other people I communicate with daily. And let me tell you it is HARD . I can see why so many people talk the talk , but don’t walk the walk. It is something that I have to be intentional about each and every day. Granting myself grace for being tired of the computer and not wanting to be on a second longer than I have to. Giving my student grace when he unmutes for the 20th time just to say hello to me and giving their adults grace when I have to continuously ask them to upload pictures of completed assignments. Pandemic life and virtual teaching is hard and we all deserve some grace and it is something that I am actively working on daily. 

“Pandemic life and virtual teaching is hard and we all deserve some grace”

#2 : Keep It Simple 

This one is a huge one for me. I don’t like to keep it simple . I soon had to learn whether I like to keep things simple or not , it is what is best for my sanity , my students, and families. At the beginning of this virtual school year I was spending hours , creating activities , utilizing every single platform , wanting to do all the things. That is the easiest way to burn out quickly. It was a friend of mine who called me out on it after being tired of me complaining about how exhausting it all was. Why spend 2 hours that I don’t have  creating these interactive activities , when I could purchase them ready-made or even find some freebies online in less than 5 minutes? Why use 7 different websites for my students and complicate their tiny kindergarten lives when I can keep it simple and have everything housed and completed in 1 or 2 platforms? The reality of it is, simple is helpful , it is sustainable and keeps me from burning out and uncomplicates things for my scholars. 

The reality of it is, simple is helpful , it is sustainable and keeps me from burning out

#3 Stay Ready 

Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.  I have younger students . Virtual teaching means that most of the time I have an audience. I have my students , and I have their parents, grandparent, aunty , uncle  or older siblings. Sometimes I am blessed enough to have them and multiple adults, an audience at all times. Had this pandemic happened at the beginning of my first year teaching and I had to be a virtual teacher , I am not positive I would’ve been able to handle it. Having this audience means that  I have to be strong in my content and delivery. I don’t want anyone thinking , “what the heck is she doing ?” “ She can’t even teach” . This means always preparing ahead, looking through every  slide deck before presenting, being careful and intentional with how I present material to the students and being prepared at all times.

# 4 I Was Not Meant To Be an Entertainer 

Perhaps this is the biggest lesson of all. I was not built for this entertainment life. Being virtual means that I have to work double time , sometimes triple to get and keep the student’s attention. Some of my scholars are at learning pods, some are sitting alongside siblings and others are taking part in at home learning in common areas of their homes where there is a lot of back and forth and foot traffic. This can be hard on them , that’s why I have to work extra hard to keep their attention. I am singing , dancing, telling jokes , all the things , all day long. Let me tell you, singing is not my calling. Singing with an audience of 6 year olds who tell me off if I don’t sing or dance along , and an audience of parents is just not for me. The thing is , I do it anyway because their attention is my priority, but despite doing it, I am reminded daily that entertainment is simply not my calling and those who are in earshot and deal with my singing would probably say the same. 

This school year has been one for the books , literally. I am grateful to be healthy, to be safe and to still get to teach the greatest students each day. I am learning and growing with them in so many ways. I’ve been taking on virtual teaching and it’s time to see what being hybrid will be all about. 

“I am grateful to be healthy, to be safe and to still get to teach the greatest students each day.”