The school year has taken shape after evolving all summer long.
We’re going with a hybrid plan that will see the classes split in two with the Blue Team being in the building on Mondays and Thursdays with the other half watching via video. The White Team will be in my classroom on Tuesdays and Fridays with the other team watching from home. And on Wednesdays, they will all be at home, working asynchronously.
But first, we’re starting with only the Freshmen (three sections College Prep, two sections Honors), while everyone else will take synchronous online classes. This means I will be in the building working with some students four days a week while teaching one day on camera. The sophomores will come back in October and the upperclassmen will be following in November.
Everyone will be masked; we won’t be using the lockers and the hallways will be directional. All entering the building will have their temperatures checked and a team is being trained to deal with contact tracing.
Personally, I’ve been torn about the situation all summer. I recognize that the students need to be together for social growth and the ability to fully engage with me and the classwork. That has been balanced against everyone’s health, both in school and at home. At 62, I am on the cusp of the senior range for concern but I tend to be healthy but its what I might bring home is of concern.
My apprehensions about this mean I have to readjust my thinking towards lesson planning, figuring out how to best keep both halves of the class fully engaged. Reading in class may be fine, but a waste of bandwidth for the other half. It may all be assigned as homework. With five weeks to go, I need to start figuring it out.
Someone has already suggested to me that I form buddies, pairing one white team and one blue team member to help one another. That should help.
The other concern is that I enter the classroom with energy and walk all around the room for the period. It keeps them focused on me, it allows me to spot check for illegal cellphone use, and so on. Now, I will be boxed in, a finite space for the camera to capture my masked face.
My schedule for the year will have me teaching all the freshmen which means I help get to set the tone and give them the foundations they need for success in high school. I will also have Honors British Literature again and need to freshen it up and thankfully I have already found some resources.
Amazingly, no two years of school have been the same for me, but year seven will have a new set of challenges atop the changes in classes. How much can I really prep in five weeks, while still trying to write, edit, and relax? Time will tell.