Life of a COVID-19 Teacher: The Truth

As more schools are beginning to return to in-person instruction, many are going to be adopting a hybrid or blended model which usually includes a “day off” from students so that schools can be cleaned and teachers can plan and grade.

Don’t be fooled: this is not a day off for educators. We are still working, sometimes more strenuously than we do when students are in class. If you want to know what it’s really like, I encourage you to keep reading.

Here is an example of a usual Wednesday for me:

  1. Get to school at 7:00 and prepare for my Google Meet classes with my three blocks. This includes sending out an announcement with an agenda of what we will discuss. This might also include preparing materials to review for students to see virtually.
  2. While waiting for my students to come to my Google Meet at 8:00, I grade any assignments that were submitted overnight, I respond to emails from students and parents, I check attendance from the previous day (this means checking Canvas to see who has logged in since the previous evening), I send reminder emails to students who have not checked in or submitted assignments.
  3. I host three Google Meets during the day from 8-8:50, 9-9:50, and 11-11:50, typically with only a few students in attendance for each class. One of these meetings includes working one-on-one with a student who has difficulty transitioning from one item to the next. Oftentimes, I walk him through finding assignments on Canvas, opening assignments in his Google Drive, giving step-by-step directions for assignments (multiple times), waiting while his Wi-Fi or the school Wi-Fi catches up with what he is trying to complete, and catching up with him from the week before.
  4. During my planning period (10-11), I put lessons together on Canvas for the next week, which includes posting directions, attaching Docs for them to complete the assignments, and a walk-through video explaining the directions for students who need audio directions. I add rubrics for assignments that need them and insert graphics to try to make the assignments more engaging.
  5. After my Google Meet with each of my classes, I eat lunch, usually taking only about 15-20 minutes because of the ever growing list of things I need to do.
  6. From 12:30-3:15, I continue posting assignments, updating grades, responding to emails, conferencing with individual students about writing or research assignments, calling home, checking attendance, sending student email reminders about assignments, checking in with counselors and administrators about students who aren’t participating in classes, updating my Google Slides with directions for my in-person students (because, yes, I teach Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday), looking ahead at the next part of my unit plans to prepare new lessons for a few weeks out, participating in required school meetings (virtually or in-person), preparing materials to send home to students who do not have Wi-Fi, and on and on.

Some people think that Wednesdays are days off for teachers. Again, looking at the way that I use my Wednesdays, teachers are using every minute in the day to provide the best possible education for their students, regardless of the fact that we see some of them in-person only two days a week and others we see when they attend Google Meet or individual conferences.

Understand that some of our students never check in for virtual meetings, they do not respond to phone calls or emails, they do not complete assignments (even when we print assignments for them to complete on paper and prepare packets for them weekly). Understand also that teachers will be responsible for doing whatever we can to ensure that students have multiple opportunities to complete assignments so that they pass our classes, including providing 2-3 alternate modes of delivery for them (virtual, on-paper, and contract).

Please tell us again that teachers’ jobs are easier this year because we are teaching virtually or because only a quarter of our students are in our classes at a time. And we are doing all of this without any hope of a COLA raise this year or in the foreseeable future.

Published by bagmac77

I am a high school English teacher, wife, and mother. I love writing about the ways in which faith intersects our modern world.

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