We’re closing out Week 7 of virtual learning and it only seemed to take us eleventy-seven days. Yeah, this is rough. Here are a few things I’ve learned:
- I am not cut out to teach online. It’s not that I can’t do it; it’s that I don’t like to do it.
- My teacher fuel is nonverbal feedback. (And here I was thinking it was coffee all this time.)
- The first take of any teaching video I create is often the best take. But I usually delete that one, record six more, and then settle for the last one, in which my face looks more crooked than usual and I might have something stuck in my teeth, but I’m over it (so over it), so I just upload and publish it.
The most important thing I’ve learned, however, is to stay true to my teaching self. This is also the toughest lesson I’ve had to learn.
So many people with so many good intentions have shared and posted and suggested so many ideas and approaches and tools and resources. It’s incredibly overwhelming. Of course, with good intentions myself, I initially tuned in and subscribed and followed and then figuratively pulled my hair out and literally shouted, “ENOUGH!” to any empty room. I realized I had to tune out the larger conversation and tune in to my inner one. And I had to take things one day at a time.
“Students are saying they would really appreciate knowing what the entire week looks like at the start of every week.”
Fine. I took things one week at a time.
Then, just as I was finding my groove, it was announced that we would not be returning to face-to-face instruction this school year. Cue record-scratching sound, wide-eyed emoji, and me crawling back into a fetal position, seemingly forever stuck in overwhelmed mode.
I don’t think the overwhelmed feeling is going to go away. If I’m being honest, however (and so my husband doesn’t interject to remind me in a know-it-all way), teaching is always overwhelming. At least, for me it is, at least a little. And I’ve learned to cope a bit. I no longer look at every teaching idea/suggestion/tool/resource out there. And when I do, I allow myself to do so with the same detached response of a kind old grandma. “That’s nice, honey.” “Good for you.” I don’t judge, I don’t compare; I listen, I observe. And sometimes…I get inspired.
That’s what happened when I read Lindsay Bruggeman’s Moving Writers post, “Where do we go from here? How ’bout a victory lap?” She writes, “By viewing the coming weeks as a victory lap and a chance to shine, we can create something beautiful, together.” She writes a lot of other wise things (things I wish I had written in ways I wish I had written them), but this was the idea that really got me thinking.
Yes. This is exactly how I want my students — all high school seniors — to approach the next few weeks. This is how we will finish out the year, I thought. My engines were revvin’. I just needed to figure out how I was going to roll it all out.
Surprise! I started writing.
I didn’t stop. (Surprise?) I wrote nearly all day Tuesday. I poured my teacher heart out onto the page. I included a gif and pictures and link to Dikembe Mutombo’s top 10 blocks. (Yes, really.) Then I recorded a video to introduce/prepare students. Then I slept on it.
Yesterday I shared it.
Task description/virtual teaching manifesto: Victory Lap
Today I read the initial feedback.
Folks, do you hear that? That’s the class of 2020 getting ready to do donuts in the infield…