I’ve been teaching remotely for almost a full year… I have just a few weeks left. Many said it couldn’t be done and I am here to prove that it could. My students learned just as much as they would have in the classroom. We built a classroom community from scratch. But it wasn’t easy. So, almost one year later and I am reflecting on what I will and won’t miss about remote teaching.
5 Things I Will Miss About Remote Teaching
Let’s be honest – who hasn’t gone a bit more casual in the past year? It’s been really nice to only have to find a professional shirt and then to be as comfy as I wanted waist down. I will definitely miss wearing sweatpants most, if not all, days. In addition to wearing sweatpants, most days you could find me with a blanket on my lap. I will definitely miss teaching with a blanket on. It’s so warm and cozy!
Chores at home
Being able to do chores around the house while on break has been a blessing I did not anticipate about teaching at home. I could empty the dishwasher, start a load of laundry, take the trash out, move the laundry to the dryer, even take a quick walk around the neighborhood. Normally these chores pile up for me to do when I get home and I’m exhausted or, more likely, over the weekend. So while everything else in my life this year was chaotic and unpredictable, at least I could mostly stay on top of my housework!
Snuggles with My Cat
If you follow me on Instagram, I’m sure you’ve seen my cat Sully. The children love when he joins our class and I love when he falls asleep on my lap. Snuggling with Sully has been my personal stress-relief and has really gotten me through the year. I will definitely miss spending so much time with him when I go back to the classroom!
You can’t beat a 30 second commute! At the end of the day when you are tired and can’t possibly look at a screen for another second… it takes less than 30 seconds to get to my couch or my bed! What a life! And bonus – I’m already in comfy sweatpants!
Since my commute is less than 30 seconds, a final benefit to remote teaching is being able to sleep in. I sleep in between 1 and 1 ½ hours more than when I was driving to school. It’s been really nice. It also means I can stay up later and not be a total zombie come 8pm (kindergarten teachers, you know what I mean!).
5 Things I Definitely Won’t Miss About Remote Teaching
So, while there are 5 things I will miss about remote teaching, they really are nothing in comparison to the 5 things I will not miss about remote teaching. I cannot stress enough how ready I am to be done with remote teaching. I am counting down the days.
Sitting all day
I have always said I could never have an office job because I cannot sit all day. It’s still true today. The only way I have managed to do it all year was by buying a new chair (click here for an amazon affiliate link for the comfiest office chair I could find) and sticking a stool under my desk so I can put my feet up and change positions frequently. While on weekends there is nothing I love more than laying in bed or laying on the coach all day, sitting all day for work is torture and I’m tired of it. I’m definitely worried about getting back into the classroom and all of a sudden standing all day again… it’s going to be an adjustment! But an adjustment I am very excited about.
Starting at a screen all day
Staring at a screen all day took a very long time to get used to and is still difficult to this day. By the end of the day my eyes are in pain and so tired. I can’t bear to look at another screen. True, blue light glasses (click here for an amazon affiliate link for my favorite pair) have saved me from terrible headaches every day, but it is still getting very tiring staring at a screen all day. Seriously… how do office people do it?!
Having no idea what I’m doing
I definitely will not miss the feeling of having no idea what I am doing. Never have I doubted myself more as a teacher. I have never had more feelings of imposter syndrome. It was like my first-year teaching again but times 10. I didn’t know how the curriculum was going to go, how I was going to teach it, and what my students and I would need. Every lesson was an adventure. We scraped by but I really cannot wait to go back to the classroom where I know what is happening each and every day so I can truly focus on being the best teacher possible for my students.
Technology problems with students or me
If you were a remote teacher like me, how many times a day did your students have a technology problem? Once? Twice? Five hundred? Yeah… I won’t be missing technology problems. Of course, we will still have some in the classroom… that’s the name of the game. But our learning won’t be dependent on it. If my computer’s not working, no worries, we will just read a book. If your iPad’s not working, no worries, we will play a game instead. Our smart board isn’t working, not to worry, we will just write on the white board instead.
That is so much better than being interrupted every couple of minutes with “I can’t see you” or “I can’t hear you” or a microphone glitching so that you can’t understand a child. We can’t just be flexible with those technology problems. When students are dependent on the technology to learn, we have to solve those problems and fast. Learning and lessons get interrupted. When my technology fails? The whole class gets interrupted! Pro-tip… have a second computer connected at all times. It’s saved me on more than a few occasions.
While remote teaching certainly had some benefits, it’s hard to deny that it wasn’t lonely. I was the only teacher for my grade level at my school working remotely. Except for the occasional after school meetings, I wouldn’t see another teacher from my school. My students got me through this year. They have been incredible, and they kept me going. But I definitely felt disconnected from my school. Knowing that so many teachers were back in the building and working together was hard. Teacher appreciation lunches and breakfasts being offered at school was hard too… us remote teachers were forgotten. I am ready to be back in my classroom and to be able to work with my team again and be around other adults on a daily basis.
What Will I Take With Me From Remote Teaching?
I will take three things with me from remote teaching.
Kids are a lot more capable than we think
First, kids are a lot more capable than we think. We do not give them enough credit. What we asked children to do this year was hard, and they rose to the occasion. We asked them to keep track of their own schedules and learning. They learned technology skills that we didn’t even know before this year. We asked them to connect with friends and learn as a part of a classroom community online. Many thought it couldn’t be done, but these children showed us wrong. I will definitely remember this going forward.
Larger focus on social emotional learning
Second, I had a much larger focus on social emotional learning this year because the children needed it. They were anxious about coronavirus and feeling the stress around them. They needed to learn strategies to manage their learning independently and how to connect with peers virtually. But the thing is, children always need social emotional learning. And they will especially need it after recovering from this pandemic.
I found ways to interweave social emotional learning in all I did, and I will definitely continue that. I was also open and honest with my students about modeling my own emotional regulations and worries and I will continue that. One thing that really helped give a focus for social emotional learning and helped build our classroom community was having a designated closing meeting. I’ve always wanted to in the classroom but never had the time. Well, I will make the time going forward! It’s shown me to be a crucial time of day!
Morning meeting slides
Finally, I have really enjoyed having my morning meeting slides all planned out and ready to go. I’m undecided about if I will continue using these slides once I am back in the classroom, but I can still take the activities that we did this year into my classroom. We get stale with the same greetings and activities over and over again. I will also take the idea about being more purposeful with my planning of morning meeting greetings and activities. It’s the way it should be done, but with so much planning that needs to happen every day in a classroom, it always got pushed to more of a last-minute decision. I really enjoyed having these morning meetings purposefully planned out ahead of time. If you want to try them out, you can get a sample of my morning meeting slides for free!
There are a few things that I will miss about remote teaching, but none of them are enough to make me ever want to return to remote teaching. I will not be missing remote teaching. I will not miss sitting in front of a screen all day, feeling lonely and like I have no idea what is happening each and every day and those interrupting technology problems.
Well said Zeba!
I’m passing this on to Jessica.