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The Game of teaching: fall is coming

Fall is coming. August is one long Sunday night, as teachers say, and I've found that this year more than ever I've been more stressed about the impending school year than ever before. There are a number of reasons for that, ones that are perhaps best explained in Gifs.

1) COVID-19 and the stress of the upcoming year has turned my procrastination up a notch.

COVID-19 has successfully restricted my movement from doing things I would normally do - go to White Sox games, church, events, etc. I'm not as used to having to participate in large social gatherings like I was before this started, and so it will just be a mindshift. I know this will just be like a flip of a light, but it's just something I'm trying to mentally prepare for.

2) I have to rework all of my unit plans to meet remote and hybrid learning needs.

I haven't had to totally rehaul all of my units in quite some time. And while it does present a fun challenge to incorporate technology into my lessons, it is overwhelming to try to get across the same content in a virtual platform. I am excited to see what Web 2.0 tools I can add in, and I am glad that I can finally go paperless, but it is just a lot of work on my end.

3) I need to connect with new students that I can't physically see.

The beginning of the school year is usually that fun time when teachers get to know their new students and conduct that very important matter of building a rapport with them. I'll still have to do that, but it will have to be done via Google Meet. Weird. It is what it is, but I will figure out how to make the most of it.

4) I'll have to figure out how to keep kids motivated.

Keeping some kids enthused in the classroom can be hard enough, but when you don't physically see them, it makes it all the more tough. We've been through this in the spring all ready, so I have some tricks up my sleeve, but it doesn't make it any easier. Kids sometimes think that this isn't real school for some reason and we have to make it our job to get them to take it as serious as in-class instruction.

5) Keep myself motivated.

I don't think I'll have a problem with this once everything starts, but there is something to be said about the rush a teacher feels about being in front of a live classroom. When that's taken away, it's almost like trying to separate your home life and your work life. It's a weird dynamic, and I have to stay motivated to stay in the moment with the kids.

There are a lot of other challenges that will be forthcoming, but on the whole, I think remote and hybrid learning are for the best. What's happening now with the surge in COVID-19 cases is scary. We need to keep our students, teachers, and staff safe. And thank God we have the technology to keep teaching and keep our students learning. It's not ideal, but it's what we have to get through this crisis. Within the next few days, I will find ways to begin to tackle these fears and stressors, but for right now, they are very real as we begin to enter an unprecedented school year. Good luck to all the teachers out there as you navigate these uncharted waters. I know you will do just fine, and we are all in this together.

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