When I saw @druinok's tweet about her yearly #MTBoSBlaugust challenge this morning, I did a bit of a double take. August? How in the world is it August?!? Of course it is August. I had a doctor's appointment yesterday on July 31st. It naturally follows that today is August 1st, but I would say that I'm probably not alone in thinking that it doesn't really feel like the beginning of August. This pandemic has thrown off so many things, and one of the first to go was the sense of time passing normally.
Normally, August 1st means kicking my back to school prep into high gear. This year, I just don't feel like it. I won't be spending much time in my classroom before our professional development days start up. As a result of the pandemic, we're reporting back in person two days earlier than planned to allow for extra professional development and training to help us prepare for this very weird school year that is soon to start. On August 6th, I'll be back at work. To be honest, it hasn't really sunk in yet.
I haven't designed any new posters for my classroom this year. Instead, all the decorating I have planned is to rehang the handful of posters that have fallen down since March. Usually, I eagerly take down my posters at the end of each school year as I start to dream about the new decorations I will make over the summer. Not this year. When students report to my classroom on August 12th, they will see a room that looks very much like last year's classroom. And, that's okay. (In case you're curious, my district's current plan is to have students receiving face-to-face instruction four days a week.)
I won't be carting boxes of newly laminated puzzles to school that I spent hours making this summer. If students aren't allowed to share a tub of colored pencils, they shouldn't also be touching the same puzzle pieces. The same goes for all my go-to math activities involving laminated cards. Back in May when I got to close out my classroom for the summer, I brought home my laminator and a heap of colored paper so I could start making new activities for the fall. That obviously didn't happen. The paper is still sitting in the floor of our guest bedroom, and I'm not excited about the prospect of carting reams and reams of paper back to school.
I never dreamed back in May that our virus numbers would be so much worse now. I used to be shocked when there were 100 new cases in Oklahoma on any given day. Now, we're excited when the number is under 1000.
I've spent the last 8 years in the classroom figuring out exactly who I am as a teacher. I'm the teacher with the super decorated math classroom. I'm the teacher with the puzzle corner. I'm the teacher with hands-on activities. I'm the teacher who loves coming up with creative ways to take notes. And, all of a sudden, these things that define me as a teacher have been violently yanked away. I'm worried that I don't know how to get kids excited about learning math without hands-on activities, groupwork, games, and puzzles.
Before I get to feeling too sorry for myself, I have to remind myself to keep things in perspective. I am blessed. I'm not fighting for my life in a hospital COVID unit right now. I have a job. I'm not worrying about how I'm going to feed my family right now. I am not alone in these feelings or these new circumstances. Twitter is full of amazing educators who are in the midst of figuring out all this stuff right now.
I saw someone post an image the other day that asked people to be patient with the schools this year because we are all first-year teachers this year. And, wow, do I feel like a first year teacher! I mentioned in my last post about my hand surgery that I was hoping to get back to blogging more. I can't thing of a better way to get back to blogging and get back to feeling excited about this job that I really do love than to participate in the #MTBoSBlaugust Challenge.
If you want to join in and commit to blogging more this August, I thought I would share a free printable (Link to Download) I made to add to my planner to track my blog posts this month. My personal goal is to write a new blog post every day. Don't expect super polished posts of amazing, tried and true resources. These are very much going to be just me processing the world around and sharing what I'm learning. I added a space for you to write in your own goal. Maybe you want to just post once a week? Or maybe a goal of 5 or 10 blog posts? Make this challenge what YOU need. I look forward to following along with your posts no matter how often you choose to post! Just be sure to tweet them out with the #MTBoSBlaugust hash tag so I can find them.
I cheated a bit and added my sticker for today's blog post before ever writing this post just so I could take a picture of the calendar for this blog post. I know it's probably cheesy, but I actually get really motivated by things as simple as getting to pick out a sticker to reward myself for a task. It also gives me an excuse to use up a bunch of random cheap stickers I bought a few years ago when I tried out a Passion Planner.
So, here's to a month of rambling blog posts while I try to rediscover in my passion for teaching math and my teacher identity in this world of pandemic teaching. I hope you'll join me!