August, the month that feels like one big Sunday, is upon us. No doubt, your feed is filling up with other teachers sharing their ideas. Silly me, I was thinking that since we were learning virtually this year, there wouldn’t be any insane(ly competitive) photos of people’s classrooms.
Au contraire, mes amis!
This year, the terror is the virtual Bitmoji classroom. I’m sure you’ve seen them. They are ridiculously adorable. I love them. The other terror is the Digital Interactive Notebook. In and of themselves, not terrifying. It is what they do to us that is terrifying. The terror is the feeling that you must create one or your students will suffer, which every teacher who hasn’t made one yet is feeling.
I love Bitmojis- a lot. I have entirely too much affection for my Bitmoji, and really won’t play with the Facebook Avatars, because it feels like cheating on my Bitmoji. And currently, my Bitmoji is the only version of me that looks cute after not having a haircut for 6 months. But an adorable classroom does not turn your students into super-learners. You do. If the thought of spending days (because you will get sucked down the black hole of creation for days) making a virtual version of your classroom seems like too much on top of everything else, give yourself a pass. Your students will not suffer if you do not have the an adorable Bitmoji classroom. They won’t. Let me repeat it louder for the people in the back- YOUR STUDENTS WILL NOT SUFFER IF YOU DON’T HAVE AN ADORABLE VIRTUAL CLASSROOM.
As Bit-me says, you matter. You have a lot going on right now. Spend the eternal month of Sundays doing things that will help you thrive during this crazy time (like getting your family organized). Save your clickable Bitmoji classroom for when you need a creative break. It will all happen.
That said, I am going to spend some time on converting my process journals (that’s my fancy codename for interactive journals in real life… as opposed to virtual life) to something digital. Why? Because I think it will make my life easier. So, it’s worth it to me. The only reason I hadn’t done it before is because we weren’t a 1:1 school, so it wouldn’t have been equitable. I will be grateful to never again have to touch a disgusting notebook covered in pickle juice (true story), or have a student leave it at their other parent’s house. When we can, we do better. And now, we can. So we will.
You have to take care of you. Accept that perfection does not exist, especially this year. I worry about all of those teachers who put all of the effort into creating these beautiful digital versions of their classrooms, but still struggle with the platform for teaching virtually. Master what you need to succeed. The rest is fluff. This is not the year to bite off more than you can handle to compensate for not being able to do what you normally do the way you normally do it. Lower your expectations. Give yourself a break. Sometimes it really is okay to just get through it. Your students will know you love them whether your classroom is worthy of Instagram or just barely making it to the Meet. You are the thing that turns your students on to learning, and if high-tech equals high stress, it’s ok to stick with what works for you.
I will share my plans for organization as soon as I have finalized them. In the meantime, I will be spending the rest of this week getting my family’s google calendars aligned, so my (almost) 10-year-old knows when she can pop in to my classroom to say hi, and when she can’t. I am also attending an awesome professional development through the MSDE Fine Arts Office – Maryland Micro-credentials for Creative Classrooms – Learning Through the Creative Process. They are absolutely rocking this in a virtual setting. I have learned so much- both in the content of the class and how they are presenting it.