It has been another rough week of double cohort double class teaching. Evidently I’m one of only 5 people in our school who have been waterboarded like this. Everyone else has been teaching up to half the synchronous face to face instructional time that I have. My employer is nowhere in sight and neither is my union in terms of providing qualified teachers to support my classes, so on I trudge alone.
While that is happening we’re dealing with serious on-going health issues in my family and I managed to pull my back out so badly this week that I had trouble breathing. I have no doubt that this is stress related, but no one will care or do anything until I’m broken, and then it will be the blame game.
On Monday we had a half day of PD that I was unaware of. I couldn’t find any details about it in email and when it rolled out over the Monday afternoon I sat there wondering what was going on. The system has been wildly out of balance all year and PD has been desperately needed though none was forthcoming, then suddenly this. Frankly, an afternoon not having to wear PPE three sizes too small all day again made this feel like a win. It was nice not going home with rope burns on my face.
In a rushed one hour session a man in Alberta cut open the wounded emotional body of our staff and then left. He was desperate to establish rapport and attempt psychic surgery on us through a one way sixty minute video chat. He lost me when he attempted to use my lack of reproductive effectiveness as a joke (why aren’t you people in Ontario pumping out more children?). At that point I angrily started cleaning up my classroom, which is in tatters because I have been given no time to maintain it in the past year, and that’s how I pulled my back out.
I’m sure that wasn’t the intent of the half day invasive PD, though when you see that many superintendents and other senior admin in a meeting you have to wonder what the intent is. Many people seemed to find it helpful, but many people aren’t teaching all day every day all year like I am.
Tuesday and Wednesday I was in rough shape but continued to plan and oversee my class from home because you can’t expect anyone covering to do it consistently when none of them are qualified to teach the subject, not that this matters in 2021. I’ve not been given any qualified support for coverage or remote support (which is fully half of the reduced instructional time students are expected to spend in ‘class’ this year). While my union throws a fit about elearning classes that would at least be taught by qualified teachers, they’ve been bragging about how unqualified teachers are the solution in schools all year. It’s this kind of political game playing and the inconsistencies that it produces that leave me wondering what the hell I’m a part of.
|I would if I could sleep…|
With my class split into morning and afternoon cohorts, one of my cohorts didn’t see me on Monday. Remote expectations have been vague and are only getting vaguer as you’d expect from a system that, if it does elearning at all, does it as poorly as it can. At this point the remote work being done mustn’t include new material, assessment or any kind of, um, teaching. This puts even more pressure on those marathon 2.5 hour x 2 per day face to face learning sessions The afternoon cohort ignored the instructions I left them online when our class was cancelled and I’ve spent the rest of the week trying to get most of them back on track; just what I needed this week.
Driving home Friday I was in tears. Students are exhausted and even the strongest ones are just shrugging and walking away, and I don’t have the energy or resources to stand against the education system while trying to make what we do appear credible.
Next week I’m supposed to culminate an entire course in four days while having ignored a key component of the course (the engineering design process) because there has simply been no time to address it in our drink-from-the-firehose quadmesters where I barely have time to cover basic concepts and skills. I’m then doing that again the week after with the other class which is also a split section senior group so I need to arrange grade 11 and grade 12 face to face work along with simultaneous grade 11 and grade 12 remote/elearning work, and monitor it all while doing 2 things at once. I keep telling myself I just have to get to the end of this quadmester alive.
I’m looking forward to next quadmester (where I’m teaching my sixth consecutive double cohort class) when I’m told I have to provide remote support for someone else’s class that I’m not qualified to teach because that’s a ‘fair’ distribution of work. Fair doesn’t mean anything any more.
I just have to make it to the end of my second double double (this time with an added double stacked class) quadmester… two more weeks.
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