A Day in the Life of a “Distance Learning” Teacher

8:30: Wake up and hear my husband get up for a conference call. LOL. Sucker. Go back to sleep.

9:00: Wake up again and stare at my phone for 15 minutes. Cycle through Gmail, Outlook, ClassDojo, Instagram, and Facebook, but avoid Twitter because I’m not trying to have a panic attack before I’ve had my coffee.

9:15: Take my dog out. Why is it still cold in April? Gross.

9:30: Make my coffee and grab breakfast from my pantry. Read a book while I eat. I read non-fiction in the morning because I am an ~eDuCaTeD LaDy~.

9:50: Log on to my computer. Check Dojo to see if anyone has messaged me. Spoiler alert: they haven’t.

10:00: Check my school email again. No new messages.

10:05: Check my NoRedInk assignment to see if anyone has done the optional practice I assigned. Spoiler alert: they haven’t.

10:10: Check my Newsela assignment to see if anyone has looked at the optional article I assigned. Spoiler alert: they haven’t.

10:15: Do an at-home work out. Thanks, Obe! #fitnessgoddess

11:00: Update my district’s required communication log to track engagement.

11:15: Record myself reading the chapters from our class novel. Not to brag, but I’m up to 58 views on YouTube, so I’ll probably quit my day job soon to monetize that.

11:45: Pet my dog for a while. He’s is thriving in quarantine.

12:00: Lunch break! Make food and then sit on the couch to watch an episode of the greatest TV show known to man, The West Wing. Daydream about joining the Bartlett administration. Google the requirements for becoming White House Chief of Staff.

12:45: Log back onto my work computer and get ready for my “office hours.”

1:00: Sit alone in a Google Meets video chat because nobody comes to my office hours because nobody can access the work online and nobody has received the paper packets of work from the district so nobody has any questions to ask me.

2:00: Create a newsletter for my families in an attempt to make distance learning easier and more organized. Translate it into Spanish. Email out the newsletter and post it on Schoology and Dojo.

2:30: Virtual staff meeting. We talk about the updates to the grading policy, which is hilarious because none of the kids have even received work that we could grade, and even if they had, grades are the last thing we need to be worrying about right now.

3:30: End of the “school day”! Check my Outlook, Dojo, and Schoology one more time. Still nada. Turn off my school computer and put it in a literal box so I don’t feel guilty for not doing any more work.

3:40: Open up my teacher Instagram and marvel at the teachers whose kids have enough computers/internet access to be able to meet virtually every day.

In all seriousness, though, distance learning has been a complete disaster so far. I can’t even be mad at my students or families because it’s the district’s fault that no one is able to do any schoolwork.

The district was supposed to send out packets of paper work, but they still haven’t arrived. My district also has enough Chromebooks for EVERY CHILD beginning in 3rd grade, but those haven’t been sent out to elementary students yet. We are heading into the sixth week away from school and this is the situation we are in.

Only 4 of my students have computer access at home, so they majority of them are stuck waiting for the district to get its act together. I wouldn’t be shocked if it takes another two weeks for devices to arrive. At that point, kids will have been out of school for almost two months.

The moral of this story is that distance learning is making the inequities in public education a thousand times worse. The (mostly white) kids in the nice areas of my district probably have enough technology in their homes that it’s relatively easy for them to get the online work done. They’re more likely to have parents who are working from home, and who are educated and able to help them with the schoolwork if they have questions. Their teachers can upload work and know that most of the students will be able to access it and complete it.

But this isn’t the case for 50% of the kids in my district, who receive free or reduced-price lunch. Computers would help make learning more accessible for these low-income students because they could access the schoolwork and easily connect with their teachers and classmates if they needed help. Instead, our low-income and minority students have been falling further and further behind.

Make no mistake: distance learning is absolutely not a replacement for the learning that happens in a physical classroom. But computers would at least make it easier for learning to continue. Computers would allow students to access not just reading passages, but videos and simulations that enhance what they’re learning. Computers would allow teachers to communicate with their students via video chats and online discussion boards. Computers would allow kids to connect with their classmates instead of being further isolated during this scary time. Those computers would have connected students academically, socially, and emotionally with their teachers and classmates, but instead, they’re nowhere to be found.

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