Day 1 of Virtual School…Check!

Despite the craziness of yesterday and utter exhaustion I felt, my mind was racing last night and I didn’t fall asleep until after 1:00 am. The call to prayer at 4:00 followed by my alarm at 6:00 were very unwelcome disturbances. After peeling myself out of bed and trying my best to cover up the tired on my face with makeup, I made a cup of tea and got ready for my day. First up was a meeting with the Academic Leadership Team, followed by posting all my videos, lessons, and communications to students and parents.

The excitement of the morning, with eager students ready to check out this new way of learning, energized me, the fatigue no longer wearing me. We all went live at 7:30 and encouraged one another through our various chat groups and channels of communications. By mid-morning, I felt like a yo-yo, bouncing around from platform to platform, approving students’ posts, fielding questions from students, teachers, and parents, responding to emails, reacting to situations we hadn’t thought of yesterday, and creating video tutorials on the fly when students weren’t sure how to access this or that.

Throughout the day I was messaging with students on and off in our Teams chat, checking in with them, answering their questions, and encouraging them. A few of them didn’t understand a math concept or were confused about how to get started, so we video chatted so I could work with them 1-on-1. Their reactions were adorable! They were shy, giggled a lot, and commented on how weird it was to see me on the screen. They’ve just seen me two days ago, but I guess the newness and strangeness of talking to me through a computer screen threw them off. It’ll get easier as we go, as they become more comfortable.

Welcome to my new classroom 😊

I was a little better at eating today, snacking every few hours, but the incessant screen time and lack of movement wore me down. A little after noon I noticed my mind wasn’t as sharp, I was not as motivated, and I had a hard time getting things done. Pushing through only made it worse. At 2:00pm I had to step away. I messaged the students that I needed to take a break and laid down for a 30-minute power nap. I definitely didn’t want to get back up, but I have to say, the nap really did help. I was able to get back to students and teachers and finish up my lessons and videos for tomorrow.

Throughout the day, I was reflecting on how it was going, what I needed to do differently tomorrow, and what new techniques I wanted to try. This is the most intense PD I’ve ever had. You’re learning all the time, out of necessity. You know how you hear about this new tech thing or that new teaching strategy and you think, yeah, I should learn more about this or try that out? Well, this is forcing me to learn so much and by the end of it, I’m going to be a much better educator. Gotta look on the bright side, right?

Meetings look a little different these days πŸ˜‚

For me, the hardest part is trying to balance everything. I’m not taking breaks or caring for my physical or mental health like I should. This year is a unique year (understatement of the century) and I’ve taken on many new roles, which if I’m honest, I wasn’t balancing well even before this virtual school started. Officially I’m the Head of Primary at my school, but due to a staff reduction in October, I took on the role of PYP Coordinator, and then when a staff member left suddenly in November due to health issues, I took on a full time Year 6 (Grade 5) teacher role, too. So while trying to balance virtual school with my own class of 20 students who are in the midst of the PYP Exhibition, I’m also supporting my teachers and support staff through the process. It’ll get easier, I know it. It’s just going to take a bit of time. Fingers crossed for a negative result and quick healing of the teacher in question!

For those of you who are new to my blog, check out my last 2 slices, which give a bit more about the situation (Coronavirus is here and Prepping for Virtual School in a day).

33 thoughts on “Day 1 of Virtual School…Check!

  1. Stacey Shubitz

    I feel for you! You already had so much going on… this just added to the pressure. I hope you find a way to balance the things you must do with the things you want to do for you.

    Reply
  2. jumpofffindwings

    WOW! The day online is a marathon and hard to manage. Do not overdo! One of the things I noticed when teaching a hybrid class at the freshman-college level was my tendency to be there way too often. You will find a balance. The “excitement of the morning” must inevitably become “not as motivated…a hard time getting things done in the afternoon.” If you were AT school, you’d decompress whenever. Ah, this complicated world. Good luck to you β€”and your staff.

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      Thanks for the advice. I’m finding it hard to shut off. Just as I want to take a break for a minute, someone messages and “needs” me and the teacher guilt sets in. I need to learn to walk away…like literally…I need to take a walk. Thanks for the support!

      Reply
  3. CET Blog

    Wow! This is such a different perspective of virtual learning. It sounds like you are incredibly busy. I hope you are able to balance as it becomes more natural!

    Reply
  4. Joanne Toft

    Oh so much to take on. You are right to look for a balance. Could it help to have a place to stand and work some times. Just to get yourself out of the chair? (I must say I love the view out the window.) Good Luck and hope all turns out well!

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      I totally loved your suggestion about the standing desk! I ordered a car to go pick up my standing desk from school and bring it home. What a difference it made! So THANK YOU!

      Reply
  5. livinglife816287820

    Yes it does sound exhausting and overwhelming. You will definitely have to learn to pace yourself and maybe give yourself set time slots when you take a break? Hope you can work it through soon and then it’ll be over. Your view is amazing!

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      I didn’t schedule in breaks today- maybe tomorrow! But I did manage to take a break after “school” finished. Thanks! I do love my home. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  6. Terje

    Well-being and self-care are super important in the roles you have. I have been PYP Principal-Coordinator plus Grade 4 teacher for three years and I know how demanding the combined role is (and I have a small class compared to your 20 students). Adding virtual school and Exhibition to the mix, oh my. Remember to breathe and stretch and eat healthy. Keep filling your cup with little things that you care about and that bring you joy.

    Reply
      1. Terje

        Not super. Enough. Mindfulness and self-compassion help. I also have an awesome PYP team.

  7. edifiedlistener

    Oh my goodness, I needed to read this! We’re in preparation for that possibility right now. Could come next week or not at all – we just don’t know! You post offers some really useful insights and it sounds like your already full plate just got an extra helping before you could take anything off it. Without knowing the duration of your virtual stint, I hope that you are able to find a healthy balance as you go.

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      Thank you so much! It’s definitely a learning journey. I feel like I’m growing as an educator every day at warp speed. I’m working on the healthy balance. I’m ready for the weekend!

      Reply
  8. Fran McCrackin

    I really appreciate reading your reports on this experience. Thank you, and I echo all your commenters- take care of yourself. It is hard for me to imagine that everyone should expect all school responsibilities to continue unabated?!
    Thank you also for the lovely photos- I like the glimpse into your beautiful space.

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      Thanks…I am lucky I live in such a bright and cheery space. It definitely helps. πŸ™‚ I’ll keep posting on how the process is going. We all might find ourselves in the same boat soon.

      Reply
  9. mlb1202

    You have created a beautiful ΓΆffice space for yourself for your virtual teaching. It sounds to me that you are excelling at this new way of teaching and really being there for your students. I love the power-nap! Good for you. I am glad to hear it helped! I hope as you all get more familiar with the new virtual format you will be able to step away more, and do some things that help you take care of you and recharge. Thanks again for sharing your experiences. It really provides a new perspective to us all!!!

    Reply
  10. Kristy L

    I am loving seeing how this is going for you. Honestly, this is a really cool opportunity for kids to learn how to learn this way. I can’t wait to keep following your journey. Take a break, do some yoga with adriene on youtube. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      Thanks for the support. It’s definitely a learning process. I’m currently done with school and taking a much-needed break. Going to go for a walk soon.

      Reply
  11. Susan Kennedy

    Try to chronicle somehow your virtual learning experience. There so little about this. You might have a book in you. Take care. Remember to hydrate and give yourself some fresh air and a different view. I think technology is wearing in a way that the live students are not.

    Reply
  12. karpenglish

    I did online teaching for six years, and I learned a few helpful things. Of course it gets easier the more time you spend doing it, but we are all hoping this is a limited experience for you. The beginning of a term or school year or new period in which everyone is online is always the worst, and the wrinkles do get smoothed out after a few weeks. The two best things I learned, though, were that you must set yourself specific working and not working times. If you do not schedule meals and breaks and prep time and include them on shared calendars with your staff and with your students (through calendars and announcements or however you are best reaching the kids and their families), they will not happen. Teaching can, of course, devour your entire life, and online teaching even moreso, because you are already in your home. The other thing that I learned is that you need to designate specific times for answering emails and questions and close the email the rest of the time. Of course, you make sure that everyone knows which two or three times a day you are available for immediate email responses and when you are not. It makes the day a bit more bearable when you do those two things, because it dials back the “must do everything all at once” feeling that technology fosters so well in online education. GOOD LUCK!!

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      Thank you for all the advice…you are so right. I’m going to be so much more prepared next week! I shared your comment today with our Primary teacher group chat and they were really appreciative of the advice. Thank you!

      Reply
  13. Pingback: And Just Like That, It’s Over | my heart is happiest when i travel. read. write. connect.

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