March 12 was a day that has really altered professional life. That date affected most people. It’s the date when Gov. Mike DeWine started closing down various things in the state, including schools.
I am a teacher.
I’ve had to deal with many crises in my professional career. I’ve had to deal with hurricanes as a Marine and a sports writer. As a teacher, I had to deal with a flood, a hurricane (remember Sandy?), and, unfortunately, 9/11.
All affected me in different ways, but none have had the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March, we had no time to prepare. Word came out from Gov. DeWine at 2:15 on Thursday that schools would close at the end of the day on Monday, March 16. At 9 p.m., I received a text telling me that school would close the next day at the end of the day, and that I needed three weeks of plans for my fifth-graders to take home.
I stayed up, making lessons, and then got to school earlier than normal to make copies. As those three weeks passed, I could see that schools probably would not reopen for the rest of the school year. I completely reorganized what and how I was teaching. I watched every video I could find and read as many articles I could find that would help.
Keeping in touch with my parents and students was important. Twice each week, I emailed the parents while emailing the students all of the time. I woke up at 1:15 a.m. and checked my email. One of my students emailed me five minutes earlier, so I sent one back. After getting a drink, I saw she responded with, “Don’t you ever sleep?” I even called them.
As a result, I put together lessons for the rest of the year that the majority of the students — and their parents — seemed to enjoy. I included humor, videos, silly things for entertainment, all with the idea of having my students look forward to their remote lessons.
This “practice” enabled me to prepare for this school year. I teach at a small Catholic school, and we are offering remote classes as well as the regular classes, the so-called “hybrid” teaching plan.
In the past, I’d start my lesson plans a week or less before the first day of school. This year, I have plans through the first two marking periods. Yes, I can alter them when needed. I have the written plans, plus I spent several weeks recording videos to accompany those plans. It’s great what you can do with Google Classroom and Google Meet.
For the in-school students, we are really having to be careful. I taped two meter sticks together in order to make a six-foot ruler. I have 11 desks spaced throughout the room. On each desk, there are plastic shields.
Students and teachers temperatures are checked and logged in every day before coming into the building.
Students must wear facemasks in the building. We teachers have masks and plastic shields, to be worn all day. We are all social distancing. I teach social studies and math to two sets of students. The students stay in one class, while the teachers switch rooms.
Hand sanitizer is everywhere. Disinfectant is everywhere. The idea is keep everything as germ-free as possible.
It’s a challenge. We just started. We will succeed.
Brian Love is an elementary teacher in Lorain County.