COVID-19: End of ’19-’20 School Year Thoughts

Our school year is over. I’ve taught via Zoom for 12 weeks. That’s 55 days, for a total of 241.5 hours, which is 14,490 minutes.

I wanted to summarize my thoughts from these past 12 weeks and my hopes for the future.

Distance Learning Summary

  • Distance learning is HARD! I think my students definitely struggled to learn as much as they did from earlier in the year. Admittedly math is cumulative and the end of the year typically is more difficult, but I still think I didn’t see as good results as I did from my other students last year. And who can blame them!? Zoom fatigue is real. Also, I don’t think I realized how much energy and focus the students gain from in-person socializing. Speaking of which…
  • Teaching is easier in person, because you usually draw energy from the kids. The first few days of distance learning, I boldly claimed that remote teaching was easier in some ways, because you didn’t have to spend time or energy on classroom management. But honestly, even though some classroom management is not easy, you still gain this energy from just being in person with everyone. Even though I’m not a morning person, for some reason at school every morning when class starts I get this surge of energy. That didn’t happen remotely.
  • I discovered a new world, I’ve decided to name “Zoom Island.” It’s a lonely island, where you stare into the sea of silent, tiny, blurry student faces and monologue. You may not even realize your Zoom audio isn’t working because there is no response from the kids, and that’s what you’re used to. You may even send them the wrong Google Form assignment from a completely different class and the students don’t even tell you. It’s a sad island, and one I’m planning to renovate this summer.

Hopes for Next Year

  • At this point, I’m assuming we will still be teaching remotely in the fall. That means I have the nine weeks of summer to fix the issues I wasn’t able to tackle this semester. One thing I plan on doing is brainstorming how to increase student engagement. By the end of the semester I was begging kids to turn in work. I tried increasing participation points, making assignments easier, making them harder, giving more bonus, and adding in cute Pusheen pictures. I also want to increase student verbal interaction (or typed interaction if their internet connection is really bad).
  • As a school, we’re also exploring different schedules for next year. Perhaps a block schedule could help with Zoom fatigue? I plan to ask my fellow teacher friends from other schools what they’ve tried. Why reinvent the wheel?

If you are a teacher, or a parent, or a student, and have any ideas to share please please please let me know. This is a whole new world and the cool part is that we get to redefine what education looks like.

Wishing you health, safety, and happiness,


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