These days, a day in the life of a teacher is far different than a normal routine. My husband and I are teachers, and when the shut-down started, so had Spring break. This was the first year in a while that we really hadn’t made any travel plans because our youngest needed to have his tonsils removed. So we decided it would be best to schedule it for the Friday before break so his recovery could be during Spring break when neither of us would have to take off much work (other than the day of surgery). Little did we know that Thursday before Spring break would be our last day in our classrooms for the year. We generally are pretty busy going from work and school to various activities, but now, like a lot of other people, our lives have slowed down and we are staying home.
Of course, we are still working from home right now with continuous online learning and some days for me are full of meetings because I’m part of committees making plans for how everything rolls out. Every day has not been easy. But now, things have calmed down some and we have some flexibility in our daily schedule, so we can get things done when we can. We are managing things the best we can every day, just like you are. Most days are not quite as filled as this day in the life of a teacher.
One thing I appreciate about having to stay home is sleeping in. All of us appreciate that actually. My youngest is not much of a morning person; we found out he had moderate sleep apnea and that’s why his tonsils were removed, so his mornings are better. But really, I have no way of knowing right now if that’s because he just gets to wake up whenever he wants or because removing the tonsils helped with the sleep apnea. Hopefully, it’s both. So these days we are waking up on our own, usually between eight and nine. Going back to a bedtime and morning routine will be a struggle for all of us.
On this day, I wanted to get outside to get the garden planted because my husband had finally felt up to tilling the garden the day before-after he had ankle surgery a couple of weeks ago. (I know–we have lots of surgeries in this family, but it’s mostly my husband.) He’s on his 10th surgery in about 10 years- he jokes that the next one should be free! But I digress. I woke up around eight and after a quick school email check, I decided to get right outside. I wanted to dig all the holes for the plants while it was still cooler & partially shaded, and before I had to be inside for meetings. My youngest actually woke up just minutes before I went out and offered to help me. He was a good little helper for the hour we were out there and actually surprised me by picking up a worm! My boys are not really big fans of bugs.
An hour was about all I had before I had to get on my Google Meet office hours. Students can come in to talk to teachers about assignments or just to visit. In all of my office hours, I’ve only talked to two students, so while I wait all by myself hoping someone will come to talk to me, I check my emails and look for work students have completed.
There’s also not much of that these days. It’s clear that many of the students have checked out at this point and I can’t blame them. These are not normal times. Working online is just not the same as being in school. All of the added stress the whole thing causes for many in their own personal situations can be overwhelming. But my team and I continue to fulfill our obligations and come up with assignments and record videos for students that we hope they are watching.
This particular day in the life of a teacher was a little more interesting because the next day was my oldest’s birthday. Given that birthday parties can’t happen in their normal way right now, we tried to come up with something that was different, so we decided on a scavenger hunt for his gifts. But we wanted to do more than just hide them at home. I contacted friends the week before and asked if they’d be willing to hold a gift from us at their house with a clue on it to the next place that they could set outside on his birthday. We would make our way around as he figured out the clues, and if they wanted, people could come out and wave and say “Happy Birthday” from a distance. Everyone was happy to participate, so I spent my time in between meetings running around town to drop off most of the gifts and picking up a final gift at curbside pickup at Kohl’s. I think our son will love it, and hopefully, it will create a happy memory of this weird year.
I didn’t quite make it home before the first meeting at 1:00 which only required me to listen to a union meeting. Luckily, at my stop to pick up Taco John’s for lunch, I was able to set up the phone to listen in the car since the phone connects to the car speakers. I got home and ate my lunch while I finished listening to that meeting, then had to leave it a little early to make it to our weekly staff meeting. That was followed by our weekly department meeting. Believe me, I am definitely over Google Meet and Zoom. In the future, I will appreciate in-person meetings more. Well, some of them. Some still could be sent in an email.
All of this happened before 2:30, so while my husband delivered the rest of the gifts, it was time to actually get the garden planted. By then my oldest had finished most of his online school activities, though my youngest hadn’t started. He’s pretty over it at this point. Even though the stuff the kindergarten teachers put together online is super cool, it’s just not the same.
Both the boys actually helped with planting the garden and my oldest made a map of the garden so we know what we planted where. We put in four types of tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, basil, and jalapenos. A day in the life of a teacher includes hands-on science (and free labor!). I’m happy that they were not in front of screens because between school, TV, talking with friends on Messenger Kids and video games, they are on a lot of screens-way more than we usually would allow. But these are not usual times. The boys only complained a little because, by this time, it was definitely hot with the full sun on the garden, and it required a cool shower for all of us after we were done.
By 4:30 I was tired, so I decided it was a good time to do some online grocery shopping. We have plans to go camping for the weekend so we needed some things to take with us. On this day in the life of a teacher, I learned that online grocery shopping is not that different than regular grocery shopping; it still made me not want to cook after! I asked my husband to pick up a pizza on the way home, and I took some time to write while we waited. Yes, today was not a healthy eating day. We’ll eat healthier while camping…most of the time.
My husband got home about 7 and we ate our pizza and got out some of the camping supplies to take inventory of what we still needed so that I could place the grocery order to be delivered in the morning. By then it was nearly 9 and the boys needed to go to bed and I needed to write.
Even as I write this at close to 10, the boys are still awake in their beds talking, and when they wake in the morning- we’ll have a nine-year-old. Going back to a regular routine will definitely be hard. But I think by the end of all of this, we’ll be glad that we had some time to slow down for the most part and be able to spend more time with each other. Planning fun things like a scavenger hunt and more camping trips so we can all get away from all the screens is in our future. It has all been a challenge, but if we focus on just one day at a time, we can manage it all okay.