Out of Practice

Sunrise over Hessville. Photo cred: me.

Chicago had its lastest “first measurable snowfall” on record in 2021. But 2022 threatened to arrive with a blizzard. Forecasters were calling for up to 10 inches of snow on New Years Day followed by single-digit wind chills on Sunday. Turned out to be a dud with around four inches of snow, but that Sunday cold meant the road salt was pretty much ornamental. Not good for my drive in on the first day of school back from break. The Borman was a mess with ice randomly spotting the lanes and slideoffs and spinouts littering the shoulders. One car after a crash and spin ended up straddling the two left lanes, facing oncoming traffic. Seriously that was probably the most accidents I had seen on a single day in 14 years of making that commute. To the point where I made the decision to get off before my exit. After four years teaching in the ‘burbs, and then a year of remote school, I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a little out of practice driving 70 miles an hour on an ice rink. That day, I’ll take my chances on the surface streets in Gary, plowed or no.

Also: we returned to remote teaching this week. The district made the call Sunday afternoon as Lake County was inundated with Covid cases.

Ooof. I had forgotten. Live remote teaching is exhausting in a totally different way than regular teaching. Little out of practice in that regard too, apparently.

I felt it snap right back into place today tho. Lessons learned under pressure tend to stick I guess.

I’m not an expert in remote teaching by any stretch but I did my share of thinking and reflecting during pandemic teaching and I feel like I earned my stripes. Thoughts here, here, here’s all of April 2020, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Compounding the decision to go virtual is: we’ve got finals coming up next week. Planned on a week of review this week, on pencil/paper. That will never do when we’re remote. So Desmos and my online connects to the rescue. The great Cathy Yenca put together a very cool shell for in-class review. I gave it a trial run the Wednesday before break, so my students at least were familiar with the format. I dumped all 40 review questions (split into two parts) into the Desmos shell, and away we go. Remote learners didn’t need to copy problems onto their own paper. I could see their work (mostly), make snapshots, compare responses and thinking, try to start discussions (with varying degrees of success). It’ll do.

Made time for the Ed Campos Jr. Three Little Birds Brain Break too.

Now as for next week, the actual Finals Week? Who knows. Although my kids, who know things, today were like “If we come back” next week. Hehehe. Like I said, they know things.

I’m ready either way as one of my colleagues took the pencil/paper district final and converted it to MathXL. If we have to give a remote final, that will be the one we use.

Like I told my kids today, remote is far from ideal for review. I wish I could see their work in their own writing, I wish they could ask a quick question as I make my rounds in the room. I wish we could crack jokes and talk hoops and complain about the temperature in the classroom. But I’m way more interested in keeping everybody safe and healthy. There were something like 875 cases a day reported in my county last week. Yikes. I’m cool with remote this week. Even being a little out of practice. It could have been the classroom equivalent of standing on the shoulder of the expressway looking at my mangled car facing speeding oncoming traffic.

Instead we stayed warm and healthy and got done what needed done. And I can live with that.

Author: thedullguy

High School Math teacher, Morton High School, Hammond, IN. Football and wrestling dad. Opinions mine.

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