I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Benefits of Teaching Online

Back on September 4th, I was crying ugly before dinner. I remember thinking, "This is harder than the divorce," because I hadn't cried like that since 2009.

This past week, I was just getting into some sort of a groove. I can handle this. I might not like it; it might not be the best way to teach, but I'm getting better. Then we were told we were going to go "hybrid." I have no clue what that will look like. I also had no clue what teaching "remotely" (from school, however) would look like. So... it's time for me to share the benefits of teaching students through a screen. I will be losing some of these benefits in a couple of weeks.

  • None of my books go missing.
  • I don't have to clean up blood.
  • No sign out sheet for a break. In fact, breaks do not disrupt the class.
  • I get more breaks.
  • We can't get each other sick.
  • There's not a lot of in-class drama (that I know of).
  • There are fewer distractions to our class (besides students being on Netflix or YouTube while also "attending" class, and not responding when I call on them or want to give them a shout out).
  • There are no drills.
  • I can eat stinky food at lunch, because I'm not breathing on anyone.
  • Students can have their pets in their laps.
  • I can leave all my supplies out - all over the room if I'd like.
  • We can have 1:1 conferences without disturbing anyone else (THANK YOU, breakout rooms)!
  • It's easier to differentiate by using breakout rooms.
  • I receive fewer emails on the weekends.
  • I now dance and sing at the start of each class as I'm letting students out of the waiting room.
  • I've slowed down my speech and taken my time with my words, as I feel as if everything I say is being recorded once that camera light appears. This has helped me formulate what I want to say, and I hope it helps those kids who have internet problems.
  • I've gotten better at looking at one screen, figuring out who's talking in the other screen, and managing the chat with its private and public messages. 
  • I can teach without wearing a mask.
  • I can head outside the last 5-10 minutes of class.
  • I can yell down the hallway - in frustration or celebration or just when I'm feeling especially loopy after a crazy day.
  • I don't have to wear pants (no worries - my husband won't let me out of the house without them).
  • I don't have to wipe down tables and chairs except the table I may use at lunch.
  • It's pretty quiet.
  • I don't smell student farts after lunch. (It seems as if every year there's that one student...)
  • The "touch up my appearance" button on Zoom works wonders.
  • I have an actual routine.
  • I have our supplies way more organized than ever before.
  • I can still visit with my family outside.
  • I've learned more about how to take care of myself, as it's a true necessity.

My students added my name to our question of the day!

I hope to find ways to recreate some of these with some of my students being in front of me two days a week, and some of my students not coming into the school yet. My gut says that those at home will be receiving LESS of an education than they are now. I really wish anyone besides classroom teachers could come in to a typical class and see what goes on. Maybe then community members could see the physical and mental strain we're under. They may also have ideas for hybrid that we haven't yet thought of.

How I'm taking care of myself:

  • I rarely leave work after 3:30.
  • I don't look at my email from 3:15 until the next morning.
  • I'm finding time to send good notes home to students.
  • I don't let myself feel guilty for reading an adult book (as opposed to a young adult book).
  • I'm getting outside - sometimes between classes, at lunch (when the weather is okay), and after school.
  • I'm not on a screen a ton when I get home.
  • I read fiction at least an hour before bed.
  • I'm eating well.
  • I have a regular sleep schedule (9pm to 5am).
  • I'm using the pens I like. (Yes, even tiny things like not saving the best for later helps my head.)
  • I'm wearing my mask, washing my hands, and staying 6 feet apart from peers.

Please let me know what I'm missing. What are benefits I've not documented? What are other ways you're taking care of yourself?

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