Finding Balance Again

#sol21-August 17, 2021

New school year, new grade level, new classroom, same struggle. How to find balance?

Starting the year online again was not in my “plans” last June. This was my summer of “lying like mud” as my friend, Ellen phrases it- I did almost nothing. Bit by bit it became clear that we would be starting the year online and I “got ready” for the new school year by reading lots of books fifth graders might like and quiet things like that.

Then August 2 came and we had three days of teacher work days and there was no more quiet. I left school each day with a slightly sore throat because I was not used to that much talking (never mind the mask wearing all day again). My balance struggles center around not feeling like I can turn off the computer when the school day is over- there is always more work to respond to, emails to answer.

Today was day nine with kids and I can see them challenged by balance too. How to curtail their almost insatiable love of online gaming, Tik Tok watching, etc. when that laptop is right there. I let them know that I can often see the changing light reflected on their foreheads or glinting in their eyes. Parents warned me “Be sure she keeps her camera on, so you can make sure she is paying attention to you.” How to balance choice, community, individual responsibility?

We do not have all of our lessons synchronously and some work is completed on paper, some online- what is the right balance there? Too many Zooms? Too few? Is everyone getting what they need? Do they have what they need to be successful?

Many students do not have books available to them, so what about reading online? They can borrow books from the library as of this week, but have to reserve them so they are waiting for them at the gate- what if they do not get books this way?

I feel like in this third school year with at least a temporary component of online school I still struggle with balance- both for me and for the students and I wish there were “right answers”.

A wondering bit of what’s inside my brain right now slice.

8 thoughts on “Finding Balance Again

  1. That’s the million dollar question isn’t it Erika! Good luck with that. I am in the same struggle and also online for now – can’t wait to get back face to face. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I am right there with you, even though I am in-person this year. A mask mandate for our district just went into place last night (which makes me feel a lot safer in my school), in defiance of our governor, so I’m already steeling for the backlash from a loud minority of our community. Students will be told to carry their laptops to and from home this year, every day…I can only think of two reasons for this (need for quarantine/ lockdown or anticipating another year of unprecedented bad weather this coming winter). This year feels more chaotic to me than last year…and I didn’t think that was possible.

  3. Erika, I love the way you summed up this slice: “A wondering bit of what’s inside my brain right now slice” Lovely way to put it. I was taken aback with this is the third school year we’ve been doing this. It breaks my heart to hear that reminder…Arrrrgh!

  4. Hang in there Erika. Your slide is filled with the compassion you have for your students. I do hope you turn off the screen after teaching all day on line as a balance is needed. Take a walk. See the sky. Breathe without a mask on. Only then can you bravely keep up the pace of online teaching. Your kiddos are lucky to have such a reflective teacher.

  5. I hate that we have to start another year with so many unknowns and struggles — then again I suppose non-pandemic years had unknowns and struggles just of a different sort. So many questions without real solutions, but I hope you are able to find your balance/footing this year or at least get better at finding it (your students too)

  6. Thank you for this post. We haven’t returned to school here yet in my province but I echo your sentiments deeply. As a teacher-librarian my focus is often on the wider school community but as a mom the idea of finding a balance for my own children is a constant worry and struggle. Like you I tried to “lie like mud” (love this phrase) over the summer but as we inch closer to the start of school I can already feel my anxiety and depression creeping back in. So many days over the past two school years were so dark and heavy. Please know that you are not alone in these thoughts and worries.

  7. All your readers are feeling your wondering s- and the disappointment that there are still so many uncertainties and shifting sands under our feet. I was struck by cmargocs realization she would be dealing with lots of angry parents- another dimension. All we can do is our best (my grandmother used to say, “Angels can do no better.” And reflect and share. I also imagine that you would be better able to gauge reactions of your new grade of students if you could be in person with them. Hope this happens later. All the best.

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