Friday, October 2, 2020

Checking In: How Are You?

Over the life of this blog, nearly five years now, I have kept a relatively consistent schedule with posts.  A few blips here and there, but for the most part, I have published a post, on average, about once every two weeks.  Sometimes I write a post in less than an hour and publish, sometimes I have three different posts going at once, writing a little bit at a time and publishing them over the course of a week or two.  But now, as of this writing, I haven't published any writing in several weeks.  My last post was published on August 11, 2020, which was in the middle of a three week period of training to prepare for the new school year. I love to write but have not had any desire to write or had much motivation to do so in the last few weeks.  And while I cannot speak for everyone, I would bet that if you are reading this, you are having a similar experience.  

I have never been so tired! After hours in front of my computer, when the end of my school days comes to a close, I close every tab, shut it down, and walk away until the next day.  Wash, rinse, repeat until Friday.  When Friday rolls around, I shut down my computer and don't go near it until Monday morning.  Teaching from my home in a 100% virtual environment has sapped any desire to do anything outside of my contracted school work.  That means that I have not written a new blog post, I have not prepped a training or presented at a virtual conference, that means that I have not participated in any Twitter chats, webinars, etc. The thought of doing those things nearly makes me tired just typing this out! The only thing that I have been consistent with is recording episodes of my podcasts, The BeerEDU Podcast, The Podcast by Sons of Technology, and my latest venture, The Battle Born Digital Learning Podcast (all of which are available on your favorite podcast apps).  

In conversations that I have had with colleagues, podcast guests, and in brief interactions with educators on social media, we all have our own story as to why we are so taxed on a regular basis.  For me, I could list dozens of reasons, but I will narrow it down to a few key things that are exhausting and stressful.
  • Starting a New School in a New(ish) District: After leaving my previous position in Northern Nevada and moving back to Las Vegas, I returned to the district in which I worked for 13 years but started at a new school, a school where I only knew 3 people going into. Meeting my colleagues has been difficult and working with students virtually is even more difficult.  
  • Special Education Procedures: In my previous district, I learned how to conduct special education procedures in a specific way. By the end of my second year, I had the procedures down to the point where I rarely had to ask a colleague a question about how to do things. My new school and district do things a little differently.  Some things are easier, some are more cumbersome, but I am finding myself seeking out help to do "simple" tasks on a regular basis, which means things are taking longer.  I have joked with my special education facilitator that I am going to drive her crazy, but she has been very gracious and helpful throughout my transition.  
  • Revisions to IEPs: My district mandated that all students had to have a revision made to their IEP to address distance education.  The revision required making some changes to instructional minutes, dates, etc.  Rather than a formal IEP meeting where all members of the team are required, we simply needed to call parents/guardians to discuss the changes, note any concerns, and make the revision.  However, more than half of my parents do not speak English, making communication tougher (Google Translate is my best friend!) and with some parents, I have not been able to make contact at all for a variety of reasons.  
  • Co-teaching: First off, let me preface this with the following: I love the four teachers that I get to work with every day. I get to do three sections of US History, one section of World History, and three sections of algebra.  But working virtually with four teachers is cumbersome. And algebra is a course that I have hadn't taken in 20 years, let alone taught it.  So I am learning how to teach algebra on top of everything else that I need to do on a daily basis. It is getting better and those math skills are coming back, but it was certainly tough in the first couple of weeks.  
  • Canvas LMS: My district transitioned to Canvas for this school year. I have completed courses as a student in Canvas and a few years ago, I attended a training on how to use Canvas but had not used it much as a teacher in the time since.  While I have learned the ins and outs of Canvas relatively quickly, that doesn't mean that it works seamlessly all of the time.  And while I don't mind helping others out, because colleagues are struggling to learn the program, I tend to get a lot of emails about how to do certain things.  
  • Social Media in General: I have nearly shut down my social media accounts.  I haven't done a lot of scrolling through and I certainly have scaled back posting in the last few weeks with the exception of posting when new episodes of the podcasts are available.  The obvious answer is political: I'm sick of it! There doesn't seem to be any sense of respect and etiquette when people post about politics. And it's even more frustrating how topics of human rights, social justice, and science are politicized.  But even educators are guilty of the lack of decorum, arguing like children about the validity of things like Bitmoji classroom.  I am already stressed out, avoiding social media has lessened my stress.  
  • Family: A few weeks ago, I found a very inexpensive flight to my hometown.  I hadn't been back in over four years.  I decided to go for a couple of days to see my grandpa, who will be turning 97 soon. Because I wanted the trip to be about seeing him, I kept it secret that I was going, with only a handful of people knowing that I was going to be there.  Traveling during a pandemic is tough and I quarantined myself for several days leading up to leaving to lessen any risk and not expose my grandpa or uncles.  I left there with a promise to my grandpa that I would be back soon, but not knowing when. Little did I know, my grandmother (no relation) would pass away two weeks later. I found myself going back to my hometown again for her funeral.  While I was able to see my grandpa again (I made him a promise and I came through!), as well as family and friends, some of which I hadn't seen in 25+ years, it was a sad and stressful time, especially for my dad.  I am a few days removed from the funeral of my grandmother and I am thinking about her often, but I know she wouldn't want me to dwell and each day is getting easier. 
As I am wrapping this up, I already feel a lot better just getting these words down.  There is light at the end of the tunnel with my caseload, as I have wrapped up my IEP revisions and have completed several annual IEPs, and my students are starting to get the hang of distance learning (even though they still don't like to turn on the cameras or mics to participate in class).  The weather is starting to finally cool off some, as most of September was still in the triple digits.  But I am also concerned about you! How are you doing? What is stressing you out? How are you coping with that stress?  What are you looking forward to and what is currently bringing you joy? Remember to take a step back, take care of yourself, and do something that makes you happy!

Until next time...  

1 comment:

  1. You mentioned social media. I took facebook off of my phone and it was one of the best decisions I ever made!