Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Last Year's First Day of School

 I have journaled every day since November 2019.  I thought it would be fun to look back at my journal post from the first day of last year - September 2020 - Covid.  Our school started 10 days late to give teachers time to prepare.  We were told to learn and use Schoology that August.  Surprise!  Our students came in every other day in a hybrid situation. Some students chose fully remote.  And, as you will see I learned this first day that I had to live stream some of the remote students into my class.

This is exactly what I wrote.  I was laughing as I read it, so I thought I would share:

Wed, Sept 16, 2020 - 1st Day of School for Students:  Well, that was weird! Way too close to a dystopian young adult novel.  I arrived at 6:30 am, no time to exercise before class, because I wanted to beat traffic.  Two-thirds of our students are being driven to school and have to wait in their cars until 7:15 am.  School starts at 7:25 am. The school is building some new classrooms adjacent to my room.  My window that had been covered with a plastic sheet, finally got boarded up yesterday. Right outside my door is a stairway that is plastic sheet walled off, so I am now at a dead end next to a construction zone. 

When I got to school at 6:30 am, I decided to check my period 3 roster.  We are still fighting against live streaming students into our classes, so imagine my surprise, but not really, because it's covid, that I have two new girls that will be live streaming during Period 3 today. I had to teach periods 1 and 2, so no time, no training, no equipment, no agreement, just a declaration.  So, I sent the 2 girls the time and zoom link.  

I greeted my Period 1 class, instructing them to think about which seat they wanted.  There are 15 desks in my room, 6 feet apart, tape on the ground. I asked them to think about their seat choice, could they see/hear/did they want to sit by the window because they have to be kept open and it was chilly today. 

I offered each student a face shield. Two out of eight took one. They all had their masks and kept them on. I introduced myself, gave a little tour of my very bare room because we can't share supplies, so I didn't put them out. 

New this year, I put a QR code printed in orange paper and laminated. It is my sign in and out. It links to a google form that gives me a nice time stamped list of sign outs. Then, I shared my sparkly new Schoology page, brand new to us (aka -thrown in our laps after we just taught ourselves how to use Google Classroom in the Spring. I told them I was building it one lesson at a time. I didn't have any handouts for them. I am trying to be all online. I also reminded them to be aware of all varieties of anxiety due to the virus.  Some people didn't believe it is real and don't think we should wear masks to those who are very fearful of getting sick and we have to honor each persons' feelings by respecting their 6-feet of space and keeping our masks on.

We did a Desmos: Math and Me. Desmos now has classrooms - one code all year. It is amazing. I shared the dashboard with my coteachers and we were off. Then, we played 31-derful-virtual style. Some kids couldn't get on Desmos and went to 31-derful. I think with tech activities having different platforms for back up is a good idea. Onto Period 2 after a 15 minute mask break for half the kids. Repeat lesson. Then, Period 3. I pulled up my google slideshow (only 1 computer) and zoomed the live stream girls in, while welcoming students in after Mask Break 2 for the 2nd half of the alphabet. It took me a minute to peel away my computer layers to find the screen to take attendance for my full class - my hybrid and my remote students. Yes, marking students at home that I have no contact with as "remote present" (somewhere in the world). So, I have 15 kids in front of me, 2 kids to the left of me, and my google slides behind me, sharing with my zoomers. I did forget about them. I tried to stand where they could see me. I tried to check in at transitions or while working. I got them into Desmos and wrote the code on the board. The zoomers reminded me they needed the code - as polite as can be. They played 31-derful as well. 

I finally got to sit down around 10:40, take my mask off, and take a sip of water. I was freezing, exhausted and then it hit me. I have to do this exact thing all over again tomorrow! So, I sucked it up and got to reading through my students' desmos responses, excited to grab some snapshots to share and discuss, but that I remembered I need to wait until I have the results from the other half of class tomorrow. Great, can't plan that yet. 

I forced myself to break for lunch, in my room, at my desk, by myself. Good think I like my own company but it will get old.

Last period came in, another Algebra 2 class, bigger at 14. At the end of each class, I spray the desks, the kids grab a paper towel and wipe theirs down. They leave as new kids come in. I spray again and they wipe down. This will grow old quickly as well. 

Class went well. I congratulated them on a first day done!  And, they were off and I was out. I hurried. I knew traffic would be a nightmare with parent pick up. Our high school is next to our middle school and we end up with gridlock from two closed circles, but I made it through. Traffic was half way down Pleasant St. I got home (1 mile commute) and changed my clothes. I felt like a jellyfish blob. I couldn't move or think or function. I collected myself. Rick came home and we shared stories. I made links work in an embedded google slide. Kathy did a great job explaining how to do this over the phone and I got it! Then, I made a google slide lesson with pictures from Desmos on Piecewise functions. 

I tried to tape the first time but forgot to plug my microphone in. I figured that out as I was recording myself teaching the lesson and I found a mistake in the graph I made, so I had to go back to google, back to Desmos, and fix the original graph. Take 2 was a hit. Sure to be popular with all my fans. At this point, it was 5:15 and time to pop dinner in. I remembered I froze a homemade buffalo mac n cheese from sometime this summer. I thanked my former self for that amazing idea as dinner was fabulous. 

Rick and I went for a walk. The boys were golfing and fishing.  It's getting darker earlier already. On my walk, I remembered we had leftover ice cream sandwich cake so we had that when we got home. Then I sat down and started to journal! Time to knit my temperature scarf and then off to bed. I need to be up at 5:15 am tomorrow to squeeze a workout in before I do this whole day over again (minus the mac n cheese) - Lord, help us all!!!!

The End

My journal posts are not always this long and it took a lot longer to type than I anticipated.  Hope you enjoyed. 
Notes: my room is ready, but construction is still going on.  I am still walking, still knitting. My boys are still golfing and fishing.  I sprayed the desks all year long. I used the QR bathroom code all year and will continue this year.  I am very thankful to this last year self who did a lot of working finding my perfect tech tools and figuring out how to use them.  I am using a lot of what I created last year.  Thank you to me!

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