Distance Learning Professional Development

So my district has decided that in addition to the craziness created by switching everything to online learning, we are also required to do professional development. For any of my non-teaching followers this is the training that is supposed to help us do our jobs better. The interesting fact about most professional development is that it is usually grueling, uninteresting, and not helpful in the least. So my district sent out some options and because at my current stage in life I try and not procrastinate, I immediately started working on my hours. I have to complete six hours and each session I was sent count towards an hour.  The idea behind this is that the training is supposed to help us with distance learning but the thing is, yet again, the trainings are not geared at all for distance learning.  So far I have enjoyed the webinars that I have watched but I haven’t gained any skills that truly translate to distance learning.

It is so frustrating as an educator because my students aren’t getting what they need. I am forced to hound parents who I have no idea their current situations and I am forced to attempt to teach through assignments in Google Classroom and email. We are required to do four hours of Google Hangouts “office hours” of course the students don’t show up. I try and answer my students’ questions but sometimes they don’t even ask questions I can understand. They lack any specificity and any times they don’t even reference which assignment they don’t understand. I have been using Google Classroom all year but many of my students act like they don’t understand how to do basic functions within the programs. I can honestly say there isn’t any training out there that can prepare you to feel so helpless when it comes to students. I hope all these innovative people that think teaching is so useless and that school could be done on a computer realize that not all students can succeed in this environment.  Some of my best students are struggling the most right now. I have parents that have no idea how to encourage students to do work. I email students through their Google Accounts but let’s be honest, it only works if they are checking it. I feel unequipped to help my students in this environment and I don’t have the resources to help many of their parents. My district is already stressing that we need to do whatever we can to get as many students as we can across the finish line but right now I feel the struggle. I will be glad when we finally make a decision about our grading policy so that maybe our students will be more motivated to get stuff done.

Day 2 Interacting with Students Electronically

So I have been teaching my classes electronically now for two days.  I have been answering all sorts of emails from students and been consistently reminded by the powers that be that we are still getting paid so we need to make sure we are available during school hours.  The funny thing is that most of my kids aren’t even contacting me during school hours.  I have seen kids turning in assignments at all hours of the day and night. I am doing my best to be available to my students but I think it would be more beneficial if our students had a specific window of time designated for questions. My son’s school has been doing that and it seems to be a better option.  I think the district fails to realize that a lot of these kids are not going to be up before noon so they aren’t going to be asking questions in the mornings.

The questions that I am getting are a little ridiculous. Some of my students are acting like they have never done an assignment on Google Classroom and aren’t sure where they are supposed to go for information. I reorganized my Classwork page this morning so that it was extremely obvious where students need to go for their assignments. I have no idea how this experience is going to play out but I am trying to remain as positive as possible. It is so weird to be home everyday but I am still working and interacting with students.

I am also have to make sure my own child is taking care of all of his assignments for school as well.  I know College Board is developing a plan so that students can still get credit for their AP classes which is a relief for me after paying for three tests back in October. My son hasn’t been too bad so far but we will see how things go as the time progresses.

My older child is in college and her school goes to an online format as of March 30th. I am extremely curious how that will go for her trying to finish out her freshman year of college.

I know that eventually we will all be able to get back to normal but what kind of normal will it be? Will we be required to have a contingency plan every year now in the event that something happens in the world that causes mass hysteria and panic to people? Will we be required to utilize more digital resources so that students can seamlessly go from classroom instruction to online instruction? As an educator things seem to change all the time but for now I will take things one day at a time.

New Teacher Training Day 2

So today was supposed to be spent discussing and working through the PLC (Professional Learning Communities) format by subject. We did a two hour overview this morning but then we were supposed to be separated by subject and grade level. The overview session was really interesting and went pretty quickly but then we separated into our groups. To begin with they had all the high school teachers in one room instead of separating us by grade level. Our deans of instruction weren’t really prepared because they didn’t even realize that we had all been intentionally locked out of our grade book software. I was unimpressed that they were so unknowledgeable and unprepared to help us. I wasn’t looking forward to spending the whole day discussing PLC but at the same time I also didn’t intend on having my time wasted. After the grade book issue they let us go ahead and go to the high school to get our room keys and check out our rooms. Of course I got my key yesterday and my room is almost done because of the work I put in last week. So basically from 11am until 1 am I had nothing to do. I hadn’t brought the rest of the stuff for my room because we were supposed to be on the other campus all day. Then we met with our principal at 1pm and he only talked with us for about 30 minutes and then we were given more time in our rooms. I honestly felt like everything after the first session this morning was a complete waste of time. I completely understand why we do teacher in-service but I would prefer them to respect my time and communicate effectively enough that I can make plans. Today was a waste for me and now tomorrow is convocation. I know that tomorrow will be really crazy because all the regular teachers start back tomorrow.

New Teacher Training Day 1

So today I started EDIT which is my new district’s version of new teacher training. It may come as a surprise to those in other professions but when you go from one job to another in the education field you are required to attend new teacher training. As far as training goes it went pretty smoothly. I got my picture taken for my ID, got my room keys today, and I even got my teacher chrome book. Needless to say I am off to a pretty good start since I took the initiative and spent one day last week working on my room. My room is almost complete and I am feeling pretty good about my abilities after watching all the brand new teachers today. I had forgotten what it was like to be completely new to the profession. Being around a bunch of new teachers made me feel extremely lucky to be in my position because although I am teaching two new subjects this year, I know how to teach. Tomorrow we are slated to spend the majority of the day working in our PLC’s which should be interesting and on Wednesday the whole staff joins the mix. So far I feel like my twelfth year is off to a pretty good start.

New Job

So I wasn’t necessarily looking for a new job but my boyfriend convinced me to apply in his district because they had some openings that would allow me to teach Pre-Ap students rather than the lower level students I have been teaching for the last year. I have wanted to teach higher level students for a long time but I haven’t had the opportunity. I had an interview with the principal and administrators at the regular high school and although it was a good interview I didn’t hear anything from them. The same day as my first interview I also met the principal of their Early College Program. He also wanted to talk to me about a job so we set up an interview for a couple of days later. The second interview went even better than the first and the principal told me at the end of the interview that he was really interested in me. Several hours later he called me and offered me the job. I am actually really excited because it means that I will not only get to teach higher level students next year, but I will also be switching from English to History. I will now be teaching World Geography and World History. I have never taught either of these subjects but I am thoroughly excited about the new challenge.

My only concern right now is that in order to sign my new contract I have to resign from my current job. I’ll admit I have never had to do that before and I am a bit nervous about it. I think that everything will be fine but it is still a bit scary.

10-10-1

As I was listening to Rachel Hollis’ new book, Girl Stop Apologizing, on the way home today, she was talking about how to set a goal for your life. She said the first step is to think about what your life will look like in ten years. Then she said to think of ten dreams that would come true for your life to look the way you want it to. Finally you choose one goal to focus on first to get that ideal life. She calls this 10-10-1. I found this whole process fascinating but as a teacher it is really hard to know where to start. I know that I would someday like to work on my doctorate but I also know I am not ready for that right now. I would also like to teach in a foreign country but I can’t do anything like that until after my son graduates high school. My boyfriend and I are actually working towards getting everything together to do that in a couple of years. Our first goal in making that dream happen is to get IB Certified so that we will be more marketable to International Schools. We have found a conference in Houston during October that will help us get started. I am actually relieved that I have a new focus because my Dual Credit English program will be complete once I turn in my final essay on Saturday. I pretty much have it complete but I still need to edit it. I am really looking forward to being done with this program and moving on to other things.

End of the Year Discouragement

I was quickly trying to update all my student’s grades before I came home for our much needed early release and short break. I noticed that I have so many students failing and it is already the second week of the Six Weeks. I know that every year when we get to the last six weeks it starts becoming more and more apparent just how done these students have become. I know we are all tired and that no one really wants to produce work, but it kills me that they think it is okay to just shut down when we still have five weeks of school left. I was listening to a few of my students today and they were complaining about having tests the last day of school. They whine so much about the littlest things. I don’t remember a year from 7th grade through 12th grade that we didn’t have finals the last couple of days of school. It’s not like it makes sense to come to school after you’ve finished everything.  I know from a teacher’s perspective that there is nothing worse than having to babysit students after they have taken your final. One year at my first district they tried to have this really cool field day the last day of school. We took all our finals the few days before and the students were all supposed to be able to play all day on the last day. Then of course it rained almost like a monsoon and the even got canceled. The kids still had to be at school though so teachers had to babysit students all day long. Needless to say, our school never tried anything like that again. My students are upset they are having tests but I am more upset that we don’t have early release the last day so that teachers have time to grade. This will be the first time that I’ve worked at a school that goes the full school day on the last day of school.

Today I am just thankful that I don’t have to go back to work until Tuesday. I will worry about my grades next week because my students aren’t going to ruin the time I have with my family.