COVID19 Update

Hello forgotten blog. I’ll go back to forgetting about you, but I wrote a lot of text into your flashier cousin, Twitter, and here it is copied, pasted, and lightly edited.

I’ve been asking the students to fill out weekly feedback forms. What is going on? Do you need anything? What is working? What can we do better? etc.
Here’s the form sent out a couple of days ago.

Takeaways:

  1. The kids are mostly stressed or bored. Many specifically mention being stressed AND bored. Not many are loving it (mostly a duh, but it’s interesting to see that there are some who love it.) Some are anxious and are worried about the health of their family.
  2. They self report having a LOT of work. I don’t know if the teachers at our school (including myself) are having trouble portioning out the appropriate amount of work, but this kind of agreement is substantial. (5 is tons of work, 1 is very little)
  1. The students who are responding* don’t need much from me. They have pretty much everything they need. *But they aren’t all responding. So a lot of effort needs to be put forth by me to make sure those who aren’t responding are doing ok. This is not a trivial amt of work. 
    I’d say a good 1/4 of my time spent on school each week is spent manually tracking down Ss, and why they haven’t been connecting, and how I can help. Sometimes their internet is out for a week. Sometimes they were grounded and had no access to internet (not kidding). 
    Sometimes I’ll email with questions: how are you doing? are you stuck? can I help?
    and get nothing back, but then a couple of hours later I notice that work is getting handed after a week of silence. (????) I’m having a hard time with this whole game.
  2. For the most part what we’re doing in class (asynchronous week long lesson plans, with brief lesson videos, and 2 or 3 assignments given out on Monday and due the next Sunday, and then office hours available every day) is working for them (once again, for those who responded). 
    They like the weekly assignments, easier to keep track of and portion out. They like the office hours (although they are barely using them). They like that we haven’t had synchronous lessons. 
  3. What are other teachers doing that they’d like me to do more of? A couple of the Ss said that they’d want one synchro lesson per week, and although this is a small %, I think I’m with them. 
    That’s about it. This is such a new environment for everyone, that I can’t fault them for not thinking meta enough to know what is working and what isn’t. Seriously. How would they know if something is working besides whether or not they like it?
  4. I love this last question. I get nothing from about half, but the other half is fantastic. I hear about what they’re watching on TV. About new pets. About exercise routines that they’ve picked up. About being nervous about their parent in health care who is now working with covid patients. About being sad about not seeing their friends. About being sad that prom isn’t gonna happen. About how they’ve been practicing their driving and are getting good. About being proud having just finished a long english paper. About wanting me to tell their other teachers to “chill dude”, they have tons of work. About how their family is driving them nuts, but also they’re enjoying their family for the most part. About what they’re cooking. About how they just need a break (despite our spring break being taken away). About how they actually miss school and can’t believe they just typed that. …

    It’s a wonderful field. And since I didn’t make it anonymous like I do most feedback forms, I’ve written a dozen follow up emails checking up based on things that they’ve written in the form. My biggest frustration is getting a small slice of them to engage. They are busy, but I want my slice of their attention. It’s that whole adage, I get 80% of the payoff from 20% of the energy. But to get that last 20% of the payoff, it’s 80% of my energy. I’m left with a zillion Qs that normally drive my classroom but feel much more unanswered with all this change. Are they learning math? Are they enjoying math? How can I improve? Are they learning from and helping others (this one is a certainty – not anywhere near as much)? 
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