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Thursday, February 3, 2022

Mass Teaching Casualty of the Pandemic

Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark.  

-Jay Danzie

Greetings Friends:

This is my first official blog post in ages and the first one since officially retiring from my 33 year teaching career in March, 2021.  Having spent many years as a reading intervention teacher, the onset of the pandemic set into motion a chain of events and I was faced with teaching second grade (for the first time) in a remote setting (by my request). My district was scrambling on how to meet the needs of their students and staff but there was much radio silence throughout the summer. In July of 2021, I sent a proposal to my district HR department outlining how I could be a Reading Intervention Teacher, manage the needs of my building's intervention caseload from home, and then all that was left was to determine how to do this technology wise. But they had other plans for me and truly gave me no choice regarding how I would be spending the last year of my teaching career.

While initially I wanted to dig in my heals resisting this position, I tried to look at this as an opportunity and a full circle moment, knowing full well that I was retiring at the end of the year. I did not know the full curriculum (ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies, etc.) and as a 54 year old, teaching from my basement, I definitely had technology challenges that were huge hurdles for me. Google Meeting, Google Classroom, Flipgrid, Sign Up Genius, Document Cameras, Double Screens, sharing my screen...let alone, how do you engage young students for a full day of instruction when you can not stand beside them, put your hand on their back to encourage them, and trust me when I say the eyes on the back of my head do not work as well via the computer waves! This was certainly a huge undertaking and I wasn't quite sure the effort I was going to have to put forth was worth it for this one last year! 

Fast forward to October...I received a message that our head of HR wanted to meet with me. We met and it was determined that Intervention services were needed for the remote learners.  I was told that since this was in my "wheel house" they would like me to ponder moving back to an intervention position. (Yup...I was offered the very position I requested in July!) Here's the problem...I had fallen in love with my second graders and did not want to make that move at that time.  I had successfully built a community of online learners, I had jumped over hurdles that I did not think I could clear, and although I knew there would be many more hurdles to jump over, I felt I had been through the worst of it and didn't want to be faced with those challenges in my "old but new" position. As a 32+ year veteran in those 6-8 weeks, I had learned a ton of new things, was oddly rejuvenated by my new knowledge, connected with colleagues I hadn't previously worked with closely due to the new position, and found fun, creative, and new ways to teach my second graders and was really proud of myself. Here's the kicker...when I tried to decline the position, I was told that I HAD NO CHOICE AND HAD TO SWITCH POSITIONS.  

However, I did have a choice at that time. With all of this stress, I decided to take a medical leave in order to reach 120 days...the amount of days required by the state of Ohio to count as a year of service towards retirement. From early October-February 28th, I was on sick leave with my retirement date official on March 1st!

Now it is February of 2022.  I am on the other side of this, have gained some perspective, still miss being around "my kids" and coworkers too, and I am in constant awe of the fact that you, my colleagues, are still engaged with your students during this pandemic and it is SO HARD...SO DARN HARD! Some days I feel like I deserted my team on the battlefields, but on all days I am grateful enough to have the opportunity for this new chapter of being a full time Teacherpreneur who gets to create curriculum and materials to help my friends who are still in the battlefields. I can take the day off if I want, a snow day does not have nearly the appeal it once did, I can have as many bathroom breaks as I want, and any day can be a Jeans Day!

 I look forward to seeing this new chapter take shape and see what it holds for me in my "new normal". I hope you stop by and check out some of the great products I have added to my TPT store, with you...my friends and colleagues in mind! Stay the course and please know that you are making a difference, everyday!

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