I’m a teacher in a boarding school. All of our students were “sent home” in March. “Home,” of course, often meant grandma’s house or a friend’s couch or the local freeway underpass or a tent in the woods. The school has transitioned to a distance learning platform in April and have been doing so ever since.
Our school was their support system. I dealt with those kids 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. If they had issues outside of those hours they took it to the dorm staff or the rec staff of their counselors or the admin staff or or or…
When we went to a distance learning platform we had to give students a way to communicate with us. Of course, we all thought todayxs tech-savvy teenagers would take to the technical aspects of DL like ducks to water… how naïve of us! Nope, none of them could figure out email or how to message in Canvas – kids are content users, not creators. So we all established Google Voice numbers so students could call or text us because that seemed to be the limits of their communication abilities.
And holy shit, did they do so. I guess before all this went down I was unaware just how helpless these students were. I’ve been fielding calls and texts 7 days a week, most hours of the day. I answer every one of them, because if a student is reaching out to me it means that 1) they need help (they arent calling just to shoot the breeze), and 2) they have nobody else to turn to. My boss suggested that I hold regular 9-5 hours M-F and everything outside of that is “me” time, but I just can’t do that. I cant ignore a kid who needs my help.
Since they have a direct line to us, we are often the only staff member they can contact outside of business hours. Se we’ve become their go-to contacts.
So the first thing I’ve noticed (or, more accurately, have been made aware of) is just how fragile and precarious my student’s lives are. When we return to F2F classes I’ll be have a much more compassionate view of some of my students, that’s for sure.
I’ve also noticed how… long, for lack of a better word, the day is. Previously everything was structured down to the minute. Now, I wake up, read a hundred emails, answer a dozen panicky texts, make phone calls, write emails, and then repeat throughout the day. The only things that are routinely scheduled are my Zoom class lectures and faculty meetings. 8 hours seems to go by much slower than it did in the classroom. But I’m far from bored.
Oh. And with 2 adults and 2 teenagers in the house 24/7, we go through food and TP like there’s no tomorrow .