Yesterday was my first day back in the classroom since mid-March. For those of you who don’t know, I teach college English. I am going into my second year and while I absolutely love this job and find it rewarding, teaching face to face in a country where the pandemic is not under control in any way is terrifying and emotionally taxing.
I hope that no one minds that this isn’t directly book-related. I want to find ways to share more about me on my blog and this entire month, my mind has been so occupied with preparing to teach and now that I’m back in the classroom, it’s going to consume more of my time and thoughts and I just wanted to share that with anyone who is interested.
I’m teaching two hybrid courses this semester. This means that they are part in-person and part online. Unfortunately, the rooms on campus aren’t big enough to accommodate all of my students at once, so I have had to divide my students into two groups. One meets on Tuesdays and the other, Thursdays. I feel like my two classes are actually four.
As I was planning for this semester, my top priority was trying to consolidate the information I used to have three days a week to deliver, into one day and an online module. It was an exhausting and time-consuming process that meant I had to be incredibly selective with the information I covered.
Another priority and a huge obstacle for me was having to change the entire structure of how my day-to-day course looks. In the past, something that has worked well for me and my students is letting them break off into smaller groups and talk through the information together and informally present their ideas. They feel more comfortable with each other and have a minute to process their thoughts and have something valuable to add to the conversation this way. That’s no longer possible.
I am still not sure how best to move forward apart from giving them time on their own to gather their ideas. This breaks my heart because I feel like they aren’t getting as much out of this as they can because apart from learning the information, I want my classroom to feel like a true community and giving them five or ten minutes to talk to each other – about the course but also sometimes about whatever – really helped.
My first day just felt sad. And exhausting. And draining. Just looking out at one point and just seeing five students when I’m used to five times as many, was strange. Trying to enforce properly wearing masks so that we all don’t get sick was frustrating and exhausting. Coming home that day and scrolling through social media to see pictures of giant parties near my campus was infuriating.
As a new teacher, I always worry that I’m not doing enough. I want to give my students the best experience I possibly can and I just can’t stop holding myself to a standard that simply cannot exist right now. I can’t do as much as I could before because the world doesn’t look the way it did when I started teaching last August. I truly hope this gets easier. It took me all day to recover from teaching two courses back to back yesterday and I don’t know how long I can maintain that.
I wish I had something hopeful to end on. I wish I could say that I have faith that my school does the right thing or that every student will take responsibility to make sure that as few people catch COVID as possible, but I don’t. I’m sad and I’m scared and I’m tired.
I’ll be back to posting non-teaching related content next week. I just really wanted to share what life has been like for me recently and what it will look like for the next few months.