School Is Closed

It still hasn’t totally sunk in that we aren’t going back to school this year. I won’t finish the year with my students and my colleagues. My son won’t being going back to school and continuing his UIL Theater competitions. My daughter is just home from college indefinitely. I know that eventually life has to get back to some level of normal, but what will that be?

I am not sure how I feel about Gov. Abbott’s decision to let retail businesses open with curbside pickup options. It seems like that is just putting more individuals at risk during a time when those types of businesses aren’t really essential. I know our economy is struggling but I also know that opening things back up too soon could be detrimental to everyone. We have been lucky so far in Texas in that our case numbers have been lower than other places, but that doesn’t change the contagion of the virus or the fact that more people being out means more risk to everyone.

My family is trying to stay safe so we have been really careful about not getting out unless we need something. It is so difficult though because being at home all the time is hard. I am starting to feel like my life has no purpose.

I completed my master’s and my Dual Credit Certification program through online classes but this is my first experience with them as a teacher. Although I wouldn’t exactly say this is a true online class. We are forced to all give the exact same assignments every week and we are only allowed to review material already covered. I feel bad that my students are missing out on so much learning. Next year will have its own set of challenges trying to get students back into the routine of school.  We will also have so many gaps to fill in order to get our students where they need to be. I am supposed to be teaching Dual Credit next year which will be even more of a challenge now with students missing out on the last few weeks of English 2. Our students struggle enough in Dual Credit as it is but now we will have even more challenges. There is so much unknown about the future.

The New Normal

I used to get up at 6am everyday and get ready for work. I would arrive around 7am and prepare for my day of teaching my students English and World Geography. I would leave work around 4pm and then get home and relax. I would have dinner with my live-in boyfriend and my son. We would each participate in our nightly routines of homework and video games, with the occasional TV thrown in. My boyfriend and I watched Maverick’s Games and occasional enjoyed a weekend to ourselves when my son visited his father on his scheduled weekends. My daughter was living with my mom and attending her first year of college. We all had things that were important to us and we were all busy at least some of the time.

Now our partially empty nest has become full again.  My daughter is back home and my son has visited his dad since spring break was over. We celebrated my son’s 17th birthday with takeout and only the four of us. It was the first time my ex-husband hasn’t seen his son on his birthday. I get up at 8 or 8:30 now depending on my work schedule which now consists of hangouts meetings and grading my students work in Google Classroom. The only time we leave the house is to walk the dogs or go to the grocery store. My car has literally been in our garage since the week after spring break. It is strange because I spend my time playing games, listening to audiobooks, and reading physical books but I never really feel fulfilled. I am restless and bored. I miss the routine and chaos that the classroom brings. I miss the crazy antics of some of my students. Our administration wants us to start thinking about next year which seems so strange because technically this year isn’t really over. We aren’t giving our students real grades right now, but we have to constantly contact parents of students not completing lessons. The decisions are set to be made this week regarding how we are grading our students and when/if we are going back to school this year. I worry everyday that the Engineering Camp my son was accepted in for the summer will be canceled. I am thankful that my son is only a junior because I would hate for him to have to finish his senior year this way. I worry because he will have to take all his AP tests this year from home. He has been so successful the last couple of years with this AP test and I just hope that the format change won’t impact his performance. He was supposed to take the SAT this month at school. Now I am not sure he’s even going to take it. He needs to start applying for college as soon as the applications open so I don’t really want to worry about having to schedule it once the world goes back to normal. I think my biggest issue is the isolation I feel. My boyfriend is wonderful but the being home doesn’t bother him the way it does me. Normally I am fine spending time at home but now that I am being told I can’t go out I feel like I’m in a cage. I know that this will all be over eventually but I wish it was over now. At least we have had some great family game nights over the last few weeks and I am thankful that we all get along well. The one thing we haven’t had in our house is arguing and fighting even between my children. We have all been peaceful even if we are tired of being at home. Technology has made it possible for my children to keep up with their friends with video chats and extended phone calls while they play online games through Steam. I am lucky in so many ways because I am getting paid and still able to do my job. It is just hard to be content at home all the time!!

E-Learning

I completed my master’s degree online through University of Texas at Arlington. I also completed a Dual Credit English Certification online through Sam Houston State University. Although I was able to complete these programs through e-learning I have never had to teach that way.

Now I am trying to improvise and change my way of teaching into an online format. My district is asking us to post enrichment lessons that we aren’t allowed to take grades for which means that technically there is no real way to hold the students accountable for the assignments. We are being asked to be available every day during school hours to answer questions for our students. We are also being told to make contact with the parents’ of the students that aren’t completing the assignments that we can’t hold them accountable for. I realize that these are difficult times and although it is a crazy situation, I am actually happy to be working again. I am not sure if we will be able to return to school on March 30th like it is currently planned but I do hope at some point we are able to do more than just post enrichment lessons.

I am actually really proud of the students that have already participated in the enrichment activities and have checked in with me.

Extended Spring Break

So as a teacher I have been on Spring Break this last week and a few hours ago we were informed that our school district would be extending the break for additional two weeks. This announcement came an hour or so after my son’s school had already decided to extend their spring break for two weeks. My eldest child is in college and their spring break is set to start next week but they have already extended it a week and plan to start online only classes on March 30th. It is insane to think that we are actually living through something like this in our lifetimes. You would think with our advanced healthcare capabilities that we could find a way to get a handle on this without all the disruptions to life. I understand that most of the closures will end up being unnecessary and that school’s are erring on the side of caution but it is so hard to believe this is really happening. My boyfriend and I were talking earlier today about the virus and what the likelihood was that we would eventually contract it and it made me think of movies and video games. We have had so many movies released with themes that dealt with crazy viruses spreading and wiping out the population or video games with similar themes. I am a firm believer in the fact that you can’t be afraid of everything or you won’t live your life but at times like these it is hard to know what the right way to respond really is for people. I know our President is trying to limit travel Internationally but we still have people in highly infected areas like Seattle and California traveling to other parts of the United States. How is leaving an infected area in our country any different than one in Europe? I know it would be difficult for the President to restrict travel in our country but I wonder if maybe he should. We are already at a point where people are being told to contact health officials if they are worried about their health before showing up at doctor’s offices and hospitals. Testing is still limited in this country and there are people that can pass on the virus that don’t exhibit symptoms. Is there really a way to protect ourselves? I literally stood in a line at Costco this morning that went to the back of the store.  The store itself was so crowded that you could barely find an area to push buggies through the store. We had way too many people in that store at one time if you consider the current warnings about the virus. I hope that things will calm down soon and that people will stop giving in to the hysteria that is causing them to buy things they don’t need. We have no idea how long this virus is going to continue too rapidly spread so we need to focus on our own actions at the moment. I hope everyone reading this is able to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy during this trying time.

Research Projects

One of my least favorite things to teach is research. Students just don’t really get it and they are completely bored by it most of the time. It is especially hard with freshman which is why we are doing a very abbreviated project this year. I pulled the research articles myself and I am having them fill out a guide that I created and then create a storyboard using the information from their guides. It is a completely different way to do the project but I am honestly very excited about it. The project itself is pretty simple and if the kids will try I think they may enjoy it.

Storyboard Sample

Of course to be honest I think they have gone off their rockers.  The number of fights and such that have been going on at school lately have been insane. We have 11 days of school left and I have four students at DAEP. It is ridiculous that I have that many students that are ending the year with a discipline assignment. Most of them will have to start next year over there too. I know it is hard to focus at the end of school but I have never had students treat me the way I have been treated this year. It seems like my students either love me or hate me. The ones that hate me are vicious. I know that their behavior will eventually catch up with them but I am so ready for this group of freshman to move on.

Done

I just turned in my last paper or assignment associated with my Dual Credit English Certification that I have been working on for almost two years.  I am so super excited and I can hardly believe that I am done.  Now I can actually read for pleasure and spend more time on my blog again. I can work on my IB Certification and just spend time with my man. I can fully enjoy my daughter’s graduation and her graduation party in a couple of weeks. It feels great to be able to mark another accomplishment off my list. I remember about six years ago when I first started thinking about getting my masters how scared I was. I wasn’t sure it was something I could do. I didn’t think I was smart enough or even organized enough to do it all. I am a strong believer that we do what we have too if we want it badly enough. I found the time to finish my masters and be a more which I am extremely proud of. Then a couple of years ago I decided to start my Dual Credit English Certification. Yet again I figured out how to make it all work without going insane. I am lucky because I have great kids that always encourage me and a mom that has been super supportive. Now I have this amazing man in my life that has become my biggest cheerleader. He honestly inspires me to keep going after my dreams no matter what. I love the way we do life together and I look forward to our future.