Saturday, October 3, 2020

Thoughts a Month Into Hybrid School

This summer when I was introduced to the idea of "hybrid school" (where half of the kids are in class and half are remote), my first instinct was it had to be like juggling knives.

I was not wrong.

Hybrid for me at my school means that most of our preschool through 1st graders are in school in person (with the exception of those students who’s parents opt to keep them home full time). Our 2nd through 5th grade students also have a handful of “full-time remote learners,” but otherwise they in person at school either Monday-Wednesday or Tuesday-Thursday, and every other Friday. It’s definitely mental juggling trying to remember which Friday is which! We bring in our home kids daily via Zoom and Swivl to create a full class experience for our kids. We are using technology more than ever before with Seesaw, our learning management system, online resources like Google Drive, and online reading & math platforms. Our specials teachers either zoom into the classrooms for the littler ones, or travel by cart to the classrooms for our every-other-day kids. We are masked and socially distancing, the latter of which is tricky given the whole nature of being educators… not to mention it’s totally in the nature of kids to come close and be near each other.

The post “I’m a Hybrid Teacher, and I’m On the Verge of Quitting” on the Marvelous Teacher Musings website nails the difficulties of this style of teaching in so many ways.

Now that I have been in hybrid-style school for a month, entering our fifth week, I’m still finding it exhausting. We are the frontline workers. We are going in daily into what feels like a hot zone.

Daily, there’s a degree of “gearing up” to “go back in there” that I face—when getting out of bed as well as getting out of the car in my school parking lot. Lots of deep breaths and some internal monaloges of “you can do this.” (Sometimes they are interspersed with other soliloquies about hating life.) In some ways, It is getting easier. Often times, it still just as hard as it was on day one. It is just hard, and hard for everyone. I can see the struggle is real for all of my colleagues, who are buckling in and doing the best they can midst all of these crazy times. As the elementary school technology integrator, I have had lessons that have felt like my worst teaching experiences ever as I wrestled with keeping my in class kids engaged while I’ve wrestled (almost individually) with my at-homers. I’ve also had lesson sessions where it actually almost felt like “the good ole days!” I’ve also noticed that the students are completely remarkable—patient and perhaps even grateful, realizing how it feels to be back in school after 6 months at home given both our spring remote learning season and a long socially distanced summer afterwards.

The more I am living this hybrid learning model, the more I'm noticing that it is going to be "the marathon" versus "the sprint." The spring remote learning was the sprint. Everyone was in the mindset of “just get to the end.” It’s definitely a different race here and now. The end, from this vantage point of start of October, is a long way away. From this place, we are in a marathon. We need endurance, stamina, and longevity to make it to May or June. We can't keep going at an unsustainable pace. Pace—steady and slow--is the only thing that will win the race of the 2020-2021 school year.

Likewise, it reminds me of the flight prep on a plane that we get from the attendants: in case of emergency, put your own oxygen mask on first. Teachers, by nature, are planners, and there’s really nothing you can plan or control midst a pandemic. It’s a lot of uncertainty and flexibility, and adapting as things change around us. That’s tough for a lot of us to grapple with… and it is exactly why we need to put on our own mask first. (A near pun, in today’s times.) We do that through going easy on ourselves and making sure we providing space for us to catch our breath, sleep, and heal from the exhaustion of these times. The definition of resilience is having the capacity to recover from difficulties. It’s about mental toughness and adapting to the adversity that surrounds us. It is gleaned in part through self care. Those two pieces are the only thing that's going to get teachers through this time—perhaps our most memorable year as educators.

Teachers notoriously are terrible about self-care. There’s always lessons to plan, papers to grade, parents to email or call. Their own life, families, friends, and other responsibilities get smushed around all of that. But now, more than ever, we need to make sure to find the time for it. Our sanity and ultimate health need us to do just that. Here’s a list of resources that I hope you find helpful, so that these crazy times can begin to feel just a little bit more bearable and ultimately sustainable.

Last but not least, here are the 2020 Teachers of the Year and their thoughts & self-care coping strategies. 

Images from,

No comments :

Post a Comment