Have you noticed this school year that everyone is acting as if everything is perfectly normal? Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful to be back in my classroom and teaching in person. That being said, things are not truly back to normal yet. There have been many times this school year, where I’ve had to take a reality check. We are teaching in the new normal.
The reality in my building is that classrooms are going in and out of quarantine. We are at full capacity and working as hard as we can to socially distance our unvaccinated elementary students. I teach through my mask all day, and have spent a fortune trying to find the best ones for teaching. By the way, here are my favorite masks for teaching.
The reality is that we’re working hard to fill in learning gaps while working to help students deal with their myriad of emotions about being back in school. Life outside of school has changed for many of our students and their families. Despite all of us trying to pretend that things are perfectly normal – they are not, or at least they have become a new version of normal.
Teaching in the new normal I’ve come to realize that this is the first time many of my students have been in a classroom with 22 students. I am teaching them rules and procedures they’ve never had to follow before. I am also working to fill in gaps from schooling they missed out on because of quarantine. Things have changed – and that’s okay.
This year’s curriculum includes more handwriting practice, and letter and number review, which I normally would not have to cover in first grade. I am adapting to the realities of where my students are, just as they are adapting to being in school.
How do you keep your sanity while teaching in this new reality? It’s important to remain calm and focus on the task at hand. Taking one day at a time is a must. Check out these tips and tricks for teaching in our new normal!
Teaching in the new normal of your school environment
The new normal for teaching is different now, and will likely vary a bit from school to school. I have to keep up with the many changes that are happening each day. From more frequent student absences to the other first-grade classroom being quarantined. All while trying to catch students up to where they would normally be. I am giving my students, and their families a lot of grace. Everyone is juggling a lot more than normal, and I’m trying to remember that. I am working hard to maintain my sanity throughout all of these changes.
Each day, I ask myself which tasks I’d like to accomplish. I make a short list so that I don’t forget my goals. If I achieve them all, great. If I don’t, that’s okay too. I’m giving myself grace right now too.
As a first-grade teacher, my big goals are reading, math, and socialization. Many of my students have never been in a class with 22 other students before. There are certain ways in which I want my students to act and behave in order to be successful in school, and in life. There are certain standards that I am responsible for having my students meet. A new normal is coming into a classroom and seeing many new faces each day, and trying to ensure those students feel safe and comfortable in their surroundings will take time. This is one of the tasks I need to accomplish each day.
Tips and tricks to help teachers maintain their sanity when things get tough
Let’s face it, the possibility of having your class quarantine this school year is high. In addition, there are now supply chain shortages on basics like copy paper and ink toner for our printers and copiers. Here are 5 ways to keep sane, if and when things change abruptly this school year:
1) Adapt the Lessons
Teachers may need to make use of remote teaching methods again for part of this school year (hopefully short-term only). In-person activities can be adapted for online classes. Here are some great common core reading lessons which can be used digitally, or in-person to help make learning easier. If supply chain shortages continue, teachers may be asked to limit copying (even more than we normally are). If that happens, you may choose (or be asked) to go back to digital learning to ensure that all students are able to view and submit material. We need to accept the reality that things may have to change. We should all try to relax and adapt as needed.
2) Make use of your archived Google Classrooms
Looking at last years’ google classroom can make it easier when temporarily switching to remote or hybrid instruction. Archived Google Classrooms can be templates as you map out this year’s lessons. If you restore an archived class, your former students should no longer be members of it. If for some reason they are, you can easily delete them so there is no confusion. Then you can switch back to this year’s Google Classroom and reuse posts from last year’s Google Classroom. You may even find this useful for planning out your normal in-person instruction, and remembering some of your best lessons.
3) Use Technology
Use technology for lesson planning, grading, and communication with students and families. We all learned a lot of technical skills last school year. Why should our learning go to waste? Not to mention the reality that our students want to continue using the technology they relied so heavily on last school year. Don’t get me wrong. We are doing as much as possible using pencils, paper, and reading real books. That being said, my first graders began asking about when they could use their chrome books again around the 3rd week of school. They really missed using the technology. So, I began incorporating it into the lessons again.
4) Stay Healthy
Make sure you maintain your physical health so you can stay focused on education. Maintain a good sleeping routine, eat healthily, and exercise on a daily basis. Here are some more strategies to help you avoid burnout this school year.
5) Don’t be afraid to reach out
Don’t hesitate to ask for help. There are people here to help you succeed! Seek advice from your co-workers. My grade-level team and I are sharing all of our workload this year, and it is helping a lot.
Teaching in the new normal is a challenge for teachers, but it doesn’t have to be. With these 5 tips and tricks, we hope that you will find teaching more manageable as we navigate through this new normal together.
For more great ideas, check out this month’s Teacher Talk