I did not think it was possible, but I am approaching burnout when it comes to all media. I now know why people take a break from Facebook. Some of it is self-inflicted like my daily check of the CDC and the WHO websites. Those are the only forms of “news” I trust right now. The rest of it comes across as hyperbole which makes it difficult to filter out the nuggets of truth hidden amongst all of the noise.
First stop of the day.
The rest of it, the virtual interactions, have become part of my job. While I use a lot of websites and apps in my role as a teacher, those interactions are offset by the face to face time I spend with my kiddos. Now that we aren’t meeting face to face, my face to screen time now dominates my day. I am not a fan.
One issue is that my hours are no longer typical school hours. Parents and kids message me when they can, and for most, that’s not from 7:20 – 2:50, my contracted work hours (or in my case, from 6:00 a.m. when I typically arrive at school). Since I am not physically at school from 6:00 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. – I go to the barn in the mid-morning, eat lunch whenever I feel like it, and run an errand if need be (like getting diesel), I feel obligated to respond to a parent or student message no matter the day or time. On Saturday, I answered a number of messages. I did the same thing on Sunday.
All. Day. Long.
Many of my students’ parents are essential workers – we live in America’s garden after all, so they’re still at work. The time they have to communicate with me is in the evening and on weekends. I feel that it’s my duty to respond, especially since there is no question that my situation leaves me nothing to complain about. I can still ride my horses, I am getting paid, my husband is getting paid, I get to sleep in, and I live outside of town, so social distancing is super easy.
This can be a time sucker if I am not careful.
So what does my day look like? Well the first thing I usually do is open my MacBook and write a blog post. After that I check my two personal email accounts and maybe spend a few minutes checking in with friends and family on Facebook. From there, it’s game on.
Three is my max.
Depending what my tasks are for the day, I then open my work-assigned Chromebook to check my Google Mail account for school. By the second or third day, I realized that waiting to check those message until morning was way too hard, so I added my school email to my phone. I never really understood the need for individual mailboxes before; now I do. I simply can’t keep all of the message straight, and the important ones were getting lost in the shuffle. With a school account on my phone, I can now sort through those messages throughout the day no matter where I am.
Because I need more apps on my phone.
I am also attending Zoom meetings. Many of you have probably been using Zoom for a while, but in teaching, especially for the little guys, face to face interactions are much more effective. Right now, we’re doing staff meetings and grade level PLC meetings on Zoom. I am toying with the idea of having a class meeting via Zoom, but I’ll only risk that if I get desperate. Eleven year olds can be unpredictable.
I get more notifications here than on Facebook.
The email messages lead me to my ParentSquare messages. If you haven’t used ParentSquare, think of it as Facebook for a school or district. It’s actually an amazing app that is really saving our butts during distance learning. It can be a bit overwhelming though. I get message from my district, my school site, and individual people. I also create posts which then generate even more messages in the form of responses. In ParentSquare, I can relay updates to families as well as let them know when I have assigned work in the Google Classroom.
It works just like a real classroom except it’s virtual.
The Google Classroom is where I assign and correct student work. The Google Classroom also has a comment/chat feature which I had turned off all year. Real life chatting is rampant as it is; I didn’t need to add virtual chatting as well. Since I can’t call on raised hands to answer questions, nor can we hold classroom discussions, I have turned that feature back on which means I have an entire new level of messaging that I need to both monitor and respond to. Plus, kids can ask me questions about their assignments.
One more app to monitor.
I am also assigning work in Next Gen Math which means I creat the assignments and then check back to see who has completed them and monitor how they did.
And another one.
This week, since all the kids are picking up their laptops* from school, I am also assigning 20 minutes a day on Lexia Core 5. It’s a leveled program that allows kids to practice a variety of reading skills, but the teacher uses the interface to find out where kids are stuck and offers intervention.
* I’ll be at work on Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30 – 11:30 to distribute laptops, and on Thursday, I’ll then drive to another school to hand out meals from 11:00 – 12:30. I will definitely appreciate the break from staring at my screen.
We have so many apps from which to choose.
Once the kids have their laptops, I’ll also be assigning and checking their Accelerated Reader quizzes. Depending how long distance learning continues, right now we’re scheduled to return to school in early May, there are even more apps and websites that I can use. Last week and this week, I assigned work in BrainPop.
Work isn’t the only place I am juggling apps and websites. I am also still running our CDS chapter’s Facebook page and website. We had a show scheduled for late April, but after USEF extended the ban on showing, we cancelled that show and are in the midst of rescheduling for October.
Just one of the Facebook pages I administer.
I’ve decided I am just too busy to monitor yet another message source. So for now, I am closing comments on my blog. You can still comment of course, but you’ll have to do it on Facebook. I share my blog posts there each morning, and the posts are always public. So if you have something you want to share, or you just need to tell me what a terrible person I am, find me on Facebook.