Diary of a Math Teacher: Quarantined

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Quarantined Teaching Log: Day 1,344…

Not really. It feels like that, but it’s really more like Day 4, as my school’s Spring Break fell fortuitously during decision-making windows, and students “came back” to school online. 

I’m ending my first week of online teaching due to COVID-Nine(Quaran)teen (puns are all I have left, just let me have them), and I'm...still here. I thought I would surely love it, or hate it, or even have something neutrally pithy to offer. But I don’t. I only have today, and how I feel about teaching during these conditions. Here are some takeaways from Week One:

Stakes Feel Strangely Lower. I expected emotions to be running high as we connected via Zoom for our first class meeting, but instead, everyone’s home habitat seemed to engender a sense of calmness. Or, perhaps everyone’s emotional wells have simply run dry. 

My Gen-whatever Kids are Less Computer Literate than I Thought. I had several kids lose track of open windows and tabs; only one knew how to take a screenshot; and none of them knew what an “upload” icon looked like. These kids could teach me to master Minecraft, but they have a hard time copy-pasting. My patience and descriptive language, as well as ample screen-sharing, has helped to mitigate these issues, but it has made me re-evaluate how I learned these skills in the first place. I also pause to ask: are these the new skills-of-the-future we’re robbing them of as we drone on about the Noble Gases?

I’m Tempted to Invite Parents to My Class. I imagine they’d have more buy-in to hold their kid accountable for pre- and post-class work, as well as helping to build community with me and with their child. They’d also potentially keep other students more focused; seeing another adult on screen might result in better behavior overall. Is this a good idea, or is this the cabin fever talking? Must...make...contact…

I Have More to Learn from My Colleagues than I Ever Knew. We have a Slack now, and the #random channel is bursting with skills, bread, and photos of kids/pets/workspaces, showing me a world I previously viewed through a keyhole. Who are these textured people about whom I know so little? What can they teach me, whether about Google Classroom or that sourdough starter? 

Next week, I’ll share more about my process for online learning, the tools I’ve been enjoying, and bits of advice I have to offer. But for now, this is what’s on my “teacher's mind.” Well, this and sourdough.  

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