Hello Hybrid! Here We Go!

WEEK NINE! I have survived nearly nine weeks of virtual learning. Honestly, I can’t believe it because it’s flown by. It had not flown by in the typical way a school year does, but nonetheless, it’s the end of the first quarter. And fall break is right around the corner. It’s so close that I can almost smell it.

I want to believe my fall break will be filled with some downtime with my family and socially distanced friends, but I know better. Why? The hybrid learning model. When we return from a week that is supposed to reset, refresh, and recharge teachers, we will have actual, live human students in our classrooms for the first time since mid-March. AHHH!

The hybrid model means learning to teach in a whole new way: some kids will return to school two days a week and some students will continue distance learning exclusively. The interesting part is that we will teach both groups simultaneously. (I have no idea how the tech will handle this…Fingers crossed).

Am I excited? Yes!

Am I nervous? Yes!

Am I ready? Sort of!

I know this topic has a lot of people feeling a lot of different feelings, but I am choosing to focus my attention on what I can control and not on what I can’t.

What can I control?

  • My attitude. I set the tone for all of my students regardless of where they are sitting. I am excited and happy to see the kids who choose to return two days a week, but I am also supportive of my students who choose to remain virtual. All my students are equally “Clark Kids.” And that means they get an enthusiastic person who is excited to teach. And guess what? We read my all-time (tied with The Glass Castle) favorite book, The Great Gatsby, this quarter! So, I am extra excited to teach them, and I hope my passion sparks something inside of them whether they are watching from a screen or listening from a desk as we read Fitzgerald’s incredible language.
  • Planning. Planning is more important than ever. With so much uncertainty in the world, creating routines and clear expectations helps ease some of the uneasiness kids are experiencing. My team spends a ton of time planning and preparing each activity and assignment with the skills and content our kids need. We utilize weekly agendas and organized learning modules outlining unit goals and objectives. Each assignment and activity is accompanied with videos explaining how to complete it with models and examples. Students can go back as often as they need to review learning expectations. This helps supports students through the virtual learning model and is a strategy we will continue as we transition to hybrid learning.
  • Communication. Sending weekly emails to parents with important information and our weekly agenda has helped create a positive relationship with my students’ families. As a mom myself, I look forward to the communication my son’s preschool sends me. Since I can’t enter his school at drop off or pick up, his school diligently sends pictures of the toddlers playing, painting, and singing along with a weekly newsletter. I feel more connected to his school than ever before. His school reminds me of how important families are when teaching, especially during a global pandemic. A quick email goes a long way.

If I started a list of everything I can’t control right now, I bet it would stretch a mile. But right now, that’s not smart or productive because all that does is create more uncertainty and fear. And who needs more of that? NOT ME! By focusing on what I can control, I can give myself some peace of mind, and hopefully, that feeling permeates my virtual and in-person classrooms. What can you control?

 

Leah Clark

Leah Clark

Phoenix, Arizona

I joined the teaching profession after spending several years in luxury retail. While the free clothes and handbags were definite job perks, I felt burned out and tired of long hours, weekends and holidays. So, I went back to school to become a teacher and have never looked back. I love my job!
My teaching philosophy is simple: Do what’s best for kids. While it’s not eloquent, this humble phrase directs every decision I make about teaching and students. As a Language Arts teacher at a central Phoenix high school, it’s my honor and passion to create opportunities for students to communicate, collaborate, create and connect with one another and the world around them.
When I am not grading a stack of essays, planning a new lesson, or chaperoning a school dance, I love riding my yellow Huffy bicycle around town, sampling a new restaurant, and traveling to Flagstaff with my husband.

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