You Made it to Thanksgiving 2020!

Congratulations! You made it to Thanksgiving! As a teacher, this is a big milestone in the school year, especially as a first year or relatively new teacher. The lesson planning, reinforcing, praising, re-teaching, grading, and communicating is never-ending during the school year. It feels relentless, and from August to November, there is hardly a day off to allow you to catch your breath. 

Teaching synchronously to all in-person and remote learners has been the hardest part of the school year for me

The 2020-2021 school year also has its unique challenges. I’ve been teaching face-to-face under Plan B with students since October. I see some students on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the rest of the week I teach them online. Other students I see Thursdays and Fridays, and Monday thru Wednesday they learn online. Fewer students come to all of the in-person learning days, every day but Wednesday, which is a remote learning day for all. These are mostly students with IEPs, 504 plans, and newcomer English Learners. I have yet another cohort of students who do their learning 100% online, they’re called the “full-remote” students. They have the option to join my live science Zoom lessons on every Tuesday and Friday. Having these multiple cohorts of students to plan for is a nightmare. Literally, I have recurring dreams where I am trying to adapt my in-person lesson to something they can do at home. Teaching synchronously to all in-person and remote learners has been the hardest part of the school year for me. 

We made the news for our failure rate of over 70%

In my district, some middle and high schools report that students are doing well this year. Students are attending Zooms on their remote days, submitting work, and meeting the standards. This is not the case at my school. We even made the news for our failure rate of over 70%! The problem seems to be that some students are not engaging in their remote learning AT ALL. When teachers contact home and inform parents that their student is failing, parents are shocked and livid at the teachers that they didn’t know their student is failing. The parents say that their child tells them everyday that they have finished all their schoolwork for the day, and the parents take their word for it. In fact, the student has submitted zero work for the entire quarter, and is in danger of failing. 

The in-person students are doing really well this year. When they’re in class they have great energy, they’re focused, they make great effort, and they’re learning! But unfortunately, when they go home for their remote learning days, most do absolutely nothing. 3 months into Plan B, I am still having conversations with students about the expectations on their remote learning days. They see their remote learning days as days off. They don’t log on or complete any work when they are at home. A few students attend the Zooms, but they don’t do any work. If they weren’t getting credit for the work they do on their in-person learning days, they would be failing too. 

Socially distanced desks in my classroom under Plan B.
Each desk is 6 feet apart. Students alternate between the yellow and blue sides each period.

Teachers, you deserve your Winter Break

We only have one more week of school until Winter Break. Most years I tell students to enjoy their break, get rest, and have fun because they deserve it! This year I’m not sure I’ll say that. I’m disappointed by the overall lack of effort and engagement this year. I’ll probably say something more like: stay healthy, stay safe, and try to learn something new these next few weeks. Teachers on the other hand, you deserve your Winter Break. We’re doing triple or quadruple the amount of work compared to previous years, and we are risking our lives each day to do it. If you are a new or struggling teacher this year, I hope you feel a huge sense of accomplishment by making it to the halfway point. From January until June, the school year really goes by a lot faster, and in my past experience, it gets easier the second semester. 

Published by How She Teaches

I teach Biology and Earth and Space Science in high school and middle school. I want to share my personal experiences and teaching milestones with anyone who wants to learn.

2 thoughts on “You Made it to Thanksgiving 2020!

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