It's almost over. At least, for me, it will be tomorrow.
This school year and last year has been a trying one for students, parents, administrators and teachers. All involved have had to adjust their schedules, their lessons (for those teachers) and their lives due to the pandemic. As a teacher, it’s been 18 months of uncertainty, learning new ways to teach, and stress. Teaching became a 24/7 video marathon overnight.
After a stressful “dress rehearsal” last school year, the “new normal” went full force this school year. The types of learning models were as varied as the students. There were all-remote schools, there were some that were all in-class, there were a combination of the two, there were some that were in-class a few days a week and remote the rest. It was all over the place.
At my school, we had remote and in-class at the same time, which, in reality, doubled the work of the teachers. There were a couple of COVID outbreaks among teachers and staff, causing the school to briefly go completely remote.Then, it became one in which students came four days and were remote one day, allowing teachers to prepare for the remote students.
As time went on, people adjusted. Teachers got more used to preparing lessons for remote students. Parents, bless them all, worked hard and supported the teachers.
Schools have started trying to return to some sort of normalcy. Sports began to return last fall. Then, other parts of the high school experience returned. Proms returned. Graduations returned.
There are a lot of questions as we end this school year.
Is it over? I thought it would be last summer, but as the start of school approached, I began questioning whether the pandemic would ever end. I began preparing for all remote in mid-July. I will do the same this year, just to be safe.
Is remote teaching a success? In my opinion, it all depended on the student and the support the student had at home. Recently, we took an achievement test that is supposed to show growth. About a third showed pretty good growth. A little more than a third show little to no growth. And a small number just didn't do well. In my grade level, five out of 31 students did little to no work, despite calls, emails, texts and everything short of smoke signals to their home.
At the beginning of the year, I had no clue how to deal with Google Classroom; today, I use it a lot. I saved my lessons and recorded my online lessons so that I can post them next year in case a student has homework trouble or is absent.
What can be done about this achievement gap? Schools have been given funds to help find ways of doing it, but, to be honest, there are just so many tutors. A friend suggested summer school for those who did not turn in work, but the reality is few would attend.
But let’s savor the “today” and celebrate the end of the school year. Let's pray that next school year — and the ones after that — will be back to normal.
Right now, I’m facing a partial knee replacement as my “end of the year” gift to myself. After that, I'm off to sit with my wife at Huntington Beach to regroup, refresh and ... breathe.
Brian Love is a teacher and freelance writer in Cleveland.