We are nine weeks into the semester, and as I'm working with my students to get their grades up, I can't help but spend some time reflecting myself on what I'VE learned so far this year at my new job:
- Some things aren't different, between teaching online and teaching in person. Some students are still adorable and sweet and enjoy coming to class; some students will still either ignore you or fight you on everything (and then complain about how low their grade is).
- It's hard to work from home because it's hard to draw the line as to when to STOP. I don't LEAVE at the end of the day, thus clearly delineating a boundary between my work life and my home life. I don't have bells signaling when it's officially lunch. I mean, teachers at in-person schools also spend tons of time after school and on the weekends working as well, so that part isn't so different, but I'm saying that not having a commute doesn't mean that I'm working any less.
- Having to spend all day online and answering emails has made me spend a little less time on my computer and phone for leisure. I'm not saying I don't still go on Facebook or whatever, but it's gotten a lot easier to just put away my phone and close my laptop because, dude, that's quite enough for today.
- I really miss being able to talk to coworkers in person. Whenever I needed to get out of my classroom and clear my head, there was always the English department lounge where we could sit and chat and just decompress. I do talk to my coworkers every day, all day (hi Kate, Aaron, and Mark!), but it's not the same as getting to check in with each other visually on a day to day basis.
- I touched upon this in my last blog post, but I've taken the approach of helping my students and relaxing the rules a little bit, and it's made a big difference in my stress level. I'm not saying work doesn't stress me out, but not ruling with an iron fist means that I'm dealing with a lot less tension.
- That said, it doesn't mean that I don't worry about my kids. I know that a lot of them are there for a reason, and that that reason might be absolutely heartbreaking. All kids come to our classes with their own stories (that are sometimes sad), but you have to think that if these kids for some reason were unsuccessful in a traditional school setting, then maybe it's a sadder story than you might think. And my heart breaks for them, because I can't check in with them visually either.
- I'm glad not to have stacks of papers to grade. I mean, I still have lots to grade, but they don't take physical form anymore. That makes my life a little bit easier.
- Classroom management is a little bit different, in that they are all names in a chat room in our classroom software. I don't have to see them asleep or on their phones or rolling their eyes at my terrible jokes :P but the fact that I can't see them means that I don't know if they're ACTUALLY there or not. There are plenty of kids who just log in but are actually absent. I'm not going to say that I love this, but on the other hand... my old school just had a lock down because a kid brought a gun to school, sooooooo... I don't mind my problems at the moment.
So far, I like it. I really like my job. I feel like it suits me, and I don't know if it's also because I have the benefit of a decade of teaching under my belt (so like, would I still like this as much if I were brand new?), but I don't wake up with that feeling of dread about going to work, and on the whole, I feel a little more confident than I used to about my teaching. (Though, Impostor's Syndrome still strikes hard and true.) I'm really glad I found my way here, and I hope they let me stay a little while :)