Back in the Classroom Again

A year and a few days later, I'm back in the classroom, teaching to real, live students. I am also more tired than I've been in a long time (and I'm usually quite tired). My district has chosen to do a hybrid sort of model where we are teaching concurrently to the cohorts at home, so that they're still "in class," even when they're at home (some places call in concurrent teaching, some hiflex... the name really doesn't matter). I truly think this is better for the kids- instead of being left on their own to complete whatever the teacher assigns, they're involved in the class activities and are being delivered higher-quality content. That being said, it's a huge challenge, teaching-wise, if you're trying to do it as "right" as possible (what "right" even is, considering this is so new, I'm not sure). 

Here are the positives of being back (there are many):
- I love seeing my students, even though there are approximately 8738935 square feet of plexiglass in my class, we all have masks on, and there's a fancy air filter humming in a corner
- I feel that my campus is safe for staff and students
- It's great seeing my colleagues- my friends, my acquaintances, and even the ones I find slightly annoying. Interacting with people outside of my home is a welcome change!
- My students in class are actually talking to each other, both about the book but also just small talk, too. It's so nice to see those interactions happening again
- My home feels more like my home again, and not my work 
- They have built extra prep into our schedule, so I am optimistic about the amount I'll be able to grade and plan at work 
- Our COVID numbers continue to improve in our county, so hopefully we are laying the foundation to go back more "normally" in the fall 
- It's nice to be able to not be tied to my computer every second... obviously I am on it a lot still, since I am teaching concurrently, but even trips to the office on my prep period, or walking around the front of class while the kids are working in something (we can't walk around their desks)
- It just feels more normal, after a year of feeling everything but. I like getting out of my house and going in everyday! We work from home on Fridays, though, but four days is better than nothing. 
- I am much more productive at work
- I was worried I wouldn't know the kids' names or recognize them, since we've never met in person and they're half covered, but I surprised myself and remembered probably 75% of them
- I had a very valid excuse to buy some new Boden dresses 

... and the less positive things:
- Like I said, I am not used to teaching concurrently and I am constantly afraid that I'll forget to unmute myself when we're transitioning or won't be showing the right screen to the right people. I know it will get easier, but I want to integrate the kids at home into our physical class as much as I can, so I feel the pressure (albeit self-imposed)
- It's weird, plain and simple, to be teaching in this sort of ultra-sanitary, careful, distanced environment
- We are basically completely digital now, and I hate grading this way. I miss my piles of literal papers that need tending to 
- My students used to sit in groups of 4-6 and I did a lot of collaboration, whether it was discussing, projects, or presentations. Not now! I really miss it. I'm trying things out with sort of setting my room up into zones that they can at least talk at each other over the plexiglass and do breakout rooms online
- There's still the possibility of having to do the big state standardized testing this year, since the federal government is pushing it. It's totally absurd
- Trying to get things at home squared away has been really stressful. My son is in school part of the day and my husband, who works at home, can't commit to pick up and drop off. Luckily my family can help out, but they're not local so it's been a lot of logistic finagling 

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