As a proud Sun Devil working my way through the Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College, I learned about assessments, classroom management, the effects of adverse childhood experiences, and more. When I graduated in 2017, I was excited and felt that I was prepared to run my very own classroom; however, nothing could’ve prepared me for teaching through a global pandemic.
Typically teaching has felt much like a marathon, the year starts with a bang, and then we begin to slowly settle into it all while picking up new strategies and resources along the way as we continue throughout the semester. That marathon, however, has now turned into a frantic sprint. We were two days into our virtual back to school training, and I could already see the exhaustion in my coworker’s faces. Days that are typically filled with light conversations about summer vacations were now filled with desperate pleas as we tried to learn everything there is about Google Classroom. However, despite these feelings of anxiety and exhaustion, we were more than ready to see our students and their families.
Those first few days were chaotic, filled with technology issues, and each day it felt like we were starting over from the very beginning. I started the first day with two students, and then day by day, they all started logging in to the live lessons. The more students that popped in, however, the more anxiety I felt. Differentiation now seemed like a foreign concept to me, and I could feel myself start to sweat as I entered into Google Meets each morning and looked into each of my first graders’ eyes.
Now one month into school, things have begun to relax. Each day as my students turn their cameras on to say good morning, I get a glimpse into their world. I see their family members, their pets, and the inside of their bedrooms. As a class, we’re developing a routine that not only includes reading, writing, and math but SEL as well. Students will now pop in during lunch or after school just wanting to talk, and I cherish each of those moments. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s still a ton of stress that comes with teaching a six-year-old how to read and write over the internet. Yet, as I watch their faces light up when they film themselves over Flipgrid and hear their giggles as I once again forget to take myself off of mute, I feel a sense of calm and remember why I started teaching in the first place.