Jamie Lincow is a high school Spanish teacher. She is working in a school that offers a hybrid model, which means that students can come into the class for in person instruction 2 days a week or choose to stay home for fully virtual instruction.
From a teacher’s perspective, the month of May is like a Thursday night. It is not quite the end of the school year or the end of the workweek, but it manifests a certain excitement that teachers and students thrive on: the energy needed for the final push towards the summer or weekend.
During the 2020-2021 pandemic school year, I kept reiterating that I just needed to make it to May. In past years, the warmer weather and the anticipation of summer break fostered a level of excitement in the classroom as we coasted towards the finish line and graduation! This May 2021 was the exact opposite of my expectations, and I had to adapt quickly as May 1st arrived along with the Covid-19 virus in my household. While my kids, husband, and I submitted to varying levels of quarantine, I was able to teach virtually from home so that my students did not miss any of the curriculum or preparation for AP exams and Finals.
I found myself teaching again from my basement office, where I had taught previously during mandatory closures in the school year; however, this time I was teaching in the reverse hybrid scenario! When we started the year, I was in the classroom with a few students while others were in their homes. As of May 1st, my hybrid model was turned on its head: some students were still at home but others were actually in the classroom without me! There was a substitute available to monitor procedural issues, but I was teaching new material, orchestrating breakout room groups, and leading my established classroom routines from my basement.
My initial desire to coast through May was upended by a quarantine in my home, but the irony of the situation is congruent to everything teachers have experienced this year. Just when we feel comfortable in our surroundings, the routines and schedules change; yet, we must continue to adapt. Resilience, adaptability, and perseverance are three necessary tools to surmount any obstacle in general, and teachers have been modeling these life lessons this entire school year.
Whether the challenge is delivering new curriculum, following a new model of teaching (virtual/ hybrid/ or in person), or altering the location from which we teach, all educators have adapted in some way during this school year in order to make it a successful one for our students. While I continued to teach my classes from quarantine in my home office during the first few weeks of May, I laughed with my students about the unpredictability of our situation, and I asked for their patience as we navigated the new routines together. I reassured my AP students that my physical absence would not negatively affect their preparation for their exam. In fact, at the end of the 10 day quarantine, we had accomplished all of our necessary review.
With each passing school day in this haphazard year, we draw closer to June, and our weekend is about to begin! As we reflect upon our successes from this year and learn from our failed attempts, we hope to find a renewed sense of vigor, passion, and integrity as we greet a new set of learners in the fall. There is hope that the fall will bring some sense of normalcy in the classroom, and teachers all around the world will be waiting to embrace that change once again.