Friday, November 27, 2020

A New SIGIS Series is Coming

My last post in this space was in July and was the most recent in a series of posts about the coronavirus and returning to the classroom during a pandemic. I've had a busy fall and school for me, for everyone, has been very different, but still the same too. 

Since the spring we have all learned a lot more about the virus. Politicization of the virus has created huge divisions in thinking and approach, but in the classroom none of that comes into play. In my classroom, we are socially distanced as much as possible, for example. This was a lot easier when we did the hybrid A/B schedule, but that was not working for the students, so when we returned to normal schedule, I've returned to pretty much normal numbers in the desks. This means nobody is really spread out anymore. So, we clean and sanitize a whole lot. 

The latest data suggests getting the virus from surfaces is a long shot, but we clean anyway. I'm not taking chances. Between every single class I spray and wipe the desks and let them dry the required ten minutes, although between blocks three and four the dry time doesn't happen. When we use Chromebooks, those get wiped down too. High touch surfaces are wiped constantly and we don't share supplies. 

We wear masks. The students, for the most part, are pretty good about it, but I see them getting lax as time goes on. I have a few that I've battled from day one to keep the mask on, or pulled up. But, I'd say 95% of my students are in compliance and that's not a bad number. 

The massive outbreaks of Covid have not happened. There have been cases, sure, but in a pandemic we expect this. Nobody has become critically ill that I know about, however we only really hear about exposures through the grapevine. That, and when someone comes into your room with a yardstick and pulls kids out for the fourteen day quarantine. This has not happened in my room, but it's happened. 

So, it's really not been as bad as we thought initially. And with this knowledge, it's easier to see that the benefit of being in school is so much better than keeping the kids at home.  The kids need the normalcy of school and they need the structure, the social aspect, the food, the security net. 

I don't really regret going back, as nervous as I was.

With numbers rising again, we just need to stay vigilant. I can't spread kids out in my classroom, and my windows don't open, so ventilation is poor. I bought an air purifier which I have on all the time, and maybe that does some good. I don't know. As we return to school after Thanksgiving break, we will have to reaffirm our diligence to cleaning, mask-wearing, distancing, as much as possible. More outbreaks are inevitable. 

I have six more months before I retire from the classroom after twenty-five years. With that in mind, I'm beginning a new series in this space inspired by a teacher friend of mine who is also retiring this year. She and I have been childhood friends, taught together for five years in Caddo Parish, and we are both retiring this year although she has more years in than I do. She's been doing a series on her Facebook page, "Tales of a Teacher" and it's been a lot of fun to read. I hope she compiles them in a book when she retires! Duly inspired, I'm going to record my reflections in this space. 

I've been compiling these in my head for about twenty years. I won't ever publish them in a book; when I retire, I will be writing more books but one about teaching won't be one of them. Any reflecting I do will be right here. 

Lots of teachers write memoirs, I think. I don't usually read them...I mean, I live it every day. In my opinion, the best, most honest teacher "memoir" has already been written. Bel Kauffman's Up the Down Staircase is blisteringly funny and oh so true! No one should go into teaching without reading it. It may be a little dated, but it's still all so true. If that's what I could name this series without getting sued, I would.

I taught French in Caddo for five years...I wasn't certified to teach French, but if I'd been asked to teach calculus I'd have figured it out and done it. I needed a job. I moved to Bossier High School in 2001; my career in Bossier Parish began with 9/11 and it's ending in a pandemic. But it's been my home for twenty years and I never gave one second thought to leaving my school. You'll see why.

Teaching has been an incredibly rewarding career; I've met the most memorable kids, a few forgettable ones, some fabulous administrators, and made some of the best friends I will ever have. I've been inspired every single day. Sometimes I've been red hot angry and wanted to blow everything up with my words; other times, moved to tears by the love I have for my job, my friends, my school, my classroom, my students, and the difference we as teachers and administrators make every single day. 

You'll hear about all of it, the good, the bad, the love and inspiration.

My picture for this post is the pathway I walk every morning when I get to school at 6:35 a.m.. Come on inside with me.