Surviving Hybrid Teaching and Next School Year.
I've been missing in action for a couple of months now. Why you may ask? Hybrid teaching kicked my butt!!! It is almost the end of the school year (9 school days left), and I feel like I am just now coming up for air. My school has a rotating schedule where on Mondays everyone meets on Teams for an hour, and then most students head off for independent work for the day, and teachers have the rest of the day to play. UNLESS you are crazy like me and decide to work with small groups face-to-face for an extra 3 hours on Mondays, then you go to school. Then on Tuesdays and Wednesdays Cohort A goes to school in-person while everyone else meets online, and on Thursday and Friday Cohort B goes to school in person. It has been a whirlwind of a school year, to say the least, but I survived it, and I think that it made me a better teacher. What did I learn?
Relationships with students are THE MOST IMPORTANT THING! You CANNOT run a successful classroom if you do not connect with your students!! This is important for online teaching and in-person teaching. I have always known this, and have always strived to connect with my students. However, between online teaching, and moving to a higher grade level (6th) I have learned even more that connections and relationships are ALWAYS my number one priority. As the late great Rita Pierson said "Kids don't learn from people they don't like".
Whether you are in-person teaching or online teaching, don't introduce too much at once. I have been guilty of doing this frequently, and this school year taught me that this is a detriment to my classroom. You can't expect a student to learn lots of new strategies, and technologies all within the span of a couple of weeks. It takes time. Introduce new technologies and new strategies slowly, always starting out with introducing it with a non-academic topic. Do you want to teach your students how to use Padlet? Then start with a fun topic to teach them, and give them TIME to learn how to use it and get comfortable with it, before you introduce something new. Do you want to teach your students a new strategy in class, such as metacognition thinking (which by the way is AMAZING), then introduce it with a fun reading topic first, take your time, and model model model.
School ends in 9 days, and while I am beyond excited, I am also sad. I have worked with this group of students when they were 4th graders, and now again this year. I am going to miss them terribly, especially now that they are moving to middle school and I won't see them or hear from them daily. I feel that we have all grown so much this school year, and I hope that they will take what they have learned from me and apply it to their future school careers and in life in general.
In two weeks, I start teaching summer school to second graders! I have not taught this age range before (except off and on as a substitute) and I am scared! I am teaching literacy skills, and know that these students are way below where they are supposed to be in order to start third grade next school year. I am scheduled to have around 12 students and hopefully, they will all be in person because the thought of having to do hybrid teaching again gives me nightmares. My student teacher will be with me (I've had her since December and she is AMAZING) so that eases some of my anxiety, but I am forever scrolling through Pinterest to come up with new ideas and strategies for my soon to be second/third graders.
Next school year, we will be back 5 days a week full time in the classroom. This will be my first year as a 6th-grade teacher with a full class of students (around 33). This is also the group of students that I had as 4th graders when the pandemic started. I am curious to see what they have learned and how they have grown over the past year. I am also curious to see how the school year is going to look with a full class of 33 twelve-year-olds! Next year should be an interesting year, and I cannot wait!