On Thursday, we watched the tide turn and it became increasingly obvious we would be shutting the school to keep in line with other states. The governor confirmed that at 4 p.m. and by 5:30, the email went out to notify staff, parents, and students. We already had called a two-hour delay for Friday so staff could be trained for distance learning so we were already making plans.
One casualty was the Coffeehouse, which was to be Friday night. That became apparent when a student told me her parents weren’t coming to watch her sing. It was the right call and I hope we find a free date to reschedule this.
We are officially closed Monday and Tuesday, burning unused Snow Days I suppose, giving the faculty time to gear up. I’ll be at school those days working on prepping the lessons and scheduling them for the students. Then, like them, I will be at the home office, coffee at the ready, and will see how this goes.
I have taken more than my fair share of online courses for my Master’s Degree and I can tell you, they mostly suck. Either the interface is wonky or the teacher merely posts the work, grades the work, and we never talk about the work — with the instructor or each other. That said, I dislike the sound of my voice and having to record lectures was not something I was looking forward to, but the next two weeks cannot be taught in a vacuum.
Friday was spent cleaning up, gearing up, and catching up on some odds and ends to get ready for this brave new world. The PD time certainly helped but since then there has been an avalanche of ed services offering us freebies and now I, and my peers, are a bit overwhelmed.
I have spent some time today trying to get comfortable with Zoom, the site Deb recommended I use to record and deliver lectures. It’ll be a process but first, I have had to retrofit some of the lessons on the Harlem Renaissance to make them fit the new paradigm. I’ll have to do this for the other classes, too. The college prep freshmen are one act away from finishing The Merchant of Venice whole the honors students are at work on slam poetry I will need them to record and submit rather than perform before the class, which may address some of those nervous to do anything before their peers.
Thankfully, the honors juniors are in the midst of completing a major essay so I have more time to prep Frankenstein material before launching into that.
And as we gear up, I will also need to complete a round of grading that can wait now that we’ve moved the end of the third quarter from Thursday to the following Monday.
Wish me luck. This is going to be as challenging for me as it will be for the students.