This summer, one of my goals was to make the best of things. (You can check out my blog post about it, here!) It’s been a mantra that I’ve tried to carry with me throughout the hectic global pandemic and school year. We all know it: this has been a tough time. For many people, the workload is heavier or just completely changed from the norm. Students’ worlds have been turned upside down, and it’s taking its toll on them. However, there have been things that I’ve shifted to this school year that have made a positive impact on my teaching and that I will carry with me going forward.
One big change I’ve tried to make this year is to go paperless in my classroom. When the school year started, no one wanted to be trading papers back and forth, unsure of how COVID-19 could be transferred. Thus, I’ve taken major elements of my classroom, including my Task Card Sets for Geometry, and attempted to make them digital. Of course, there are still things I am tweaking with the digital conversion concept and I’m not sure I’ll stick to it in upcoming years (there’s something I love about physically taping work into a physical notebook), but I’m proud of myself for trying new things. Plus, I’ve saved so much time at the printer this year! I definitely want to try to reduce that environmental and time waste in the future.
Additionally, it has been more important than ever to work closely with my team. In the past, I often would take what someone else created and add my own touches. I’m a control freak and perfectionist in that way. However, this year, with the addition of teaching in-person and virtual learners, I’ve had to learn to be less of a micro-manager. I gratefully accept the work that my colleagues are providing and utilize it without putting the “me” stamp on it. This has been helpful with my perfectionist tendencies and has been a great lesson to learn and implement this year.
Finally, I’ve had to slow down in the classroom this year. My students just aren’t able to carry on at the same pace, due to being emotionally and/or physically drained, and that’s okay. We are still going through a global pandemic, and we must accept that we can’t live up to the same expectations as a result. Instead, I’ve focused on the most important standards for this year and eliminated busy work that I may have used in the past. Usually, I’m hardcore about teaching bell-to-bell, but this year, I’m fine if I have five minutes at the end of class to connect with students or do let them destress for a bit. We could all use a little extra grace this year.
This year has been so complex, full of anxiety-inducing questions and big emotions. I’m not trying to be the positivity-police with this post. This year has been a challenge and one that we will be impressed we made it through in the end. However, I am trying to focus on the bigger picture and, when I do, I can see some practices that have aided my students and myself. And that makes me breathe a sigh of relief and feel like we will get through this okay.