A Teacher’s Top Ten Things to Do During Quarantine…a story of 2020

#10 Scoff at the dire predictions, cancelations of events, and the mask debate while I get to stay home anyway because it’s spring break. Put toilet paper and Lysol wipes on the shopping list even though I already have enough. Get caught up in the mass hysteria of food hoarding—but too late to buy anything except the bulk-sized gallon jug of popcorn kernels and a matching gallon of vegetable oil. Be glad that I will be content to survive a very long siege with that gallon of popcorn.

#9. Roll eyes at places shutting down during spring break. Save money on the canceled trip to Six Flags. Instead, push the toddler around in the laundry basket. She’ll have just as much fun as she would have had on the toddler rides. Respond to emails from the principal about having staff meetings on some new program called Zoom to discuss what we are going to do after spring break.

#8. Peruse Facebook posts for several hours a day without feeling guilty. After all, I’m not going anywhere. Marvel at so many posts demonstrating humankind’s creativity, compassion, and sense of humor as we all are learning how to deal with this disease and the trials of “homeschooling.” Start a new album on my phone for these hundreds of “we want our teachers back” screenshots. 

#7. Start a diary of our time of Covid-19 pandemic adventures. Include feelings of exasperation and hope, activities that have been canceled, and concerns about the health of friends and family. Include favorite Facebook memes and news articles. Stop scoffing. Finish report cards. Binge watch “Tiger King” on Netflix. Put popcorn on the shopping list.

#6. Write my own Facebook post about how fun it can be to be isolating at home with a toddler even with all the restrictions around us. Go to the store for paint and canvas to make a Mother’s Day project with her. Discover the paint section has been decimated because everyone else has had the same idea for cranking out at-home DIY pandemic projects. The construction paper aisle has also been cleaned out. And the pipe cleaners. And the beads. And the fabric. Return home to make popcorn balls for Mother’s Day instead.

#5. Groan when we cannot return to teaching in the school building and must teach from home for the next two weeks…which sadly turns into two months. In the first morning, learn this new program called Zoom so I can actually conduct video conferences online with my students. First, spend a zillion hours on the phone with my students teaching them how to get on Zoom…on their parents’ phones. Prepare my bedroom to be my distance-learning space. Make bed daily and make sure background of my video conferences looks like a professional designer lives at my house. Marvel at my students–small humans who haven’t even yet mastered the motor skills needed to successfully carry a full lunch tray with two hands–somehow have the skills to already create backgrounds for themselves that look like dogs driving cars and ostriches in tuxedoes. Wonder why I cannot figure this out for myself and therefore must continue rearranging my bedroom decor. Work out between classes by pushing the toddler in the laundry basket. Cancel daycare.

#4. In between creatively trying to engage students in my lessons, comfort them that the world is not coming to an end and that I will see them in person soon. Spend more hours on the phone with students and parents to learn if they need food and other basic necessities. Send those requests to the counselor at school so that she can connect them with resources. Find out belatedly that the school cannot pass out school supplies and laptops because those might have coronavirus germs on them and the school would get sued for making the families sick. Turn my shower into my new whiteboard. Buy stock in Zoom.

#3. Breathe a sigh of relief when summer break finally comes because the corona virus hates the heat and the situation will get better now. School will be back to normal in the fall. Keep reading the news for updates. Be surprised when the updates do not include the situation getting better and the virus is not dying off. It seems to love the heat. Meet teacher friends for daily walks because that’s the only outing available. Binge watch more Netflix. Put a new laundry basket on the shopping list.

#2. Return to the new school year with the distinctive new title of Distance Learning Teacher. In the first week, learn one dozen more new and essential computer programs and teach them to my students all in one day. Spend hours on webinars to learn them myself.  Put kleenex™ on the shopping list.  Learn how to turn off the “chat” in Zoom so students, who previously wouldn’t be caught dead writing a whole school assignment, suddenly have interest in writing long essays to each other while I am teaching. Take deep breaths and long walks to prevent myself from throwing the computer at a brick wall. Rejoice that I do not have to wear a mask for seven hours like the In Person teachers do. Isolate myself in my own hidden cubby so the In Person teachers do not know to be jealous of my lack of a mask. Cancel Netflix because I do not need even more screen time in my day.

#1. Pretend that this new normal for Distance Learners is fine. Pretend that it is normal to relegate the students to faces in a tiny little box. Pretend that it is normal for them to show just their foreheads or their nostrils or their cat’s nostrils during school hours. Pretend that I do not enjoy muting them. Pretend that it is normal for the teacher to drive fresh school supplies and Student of the Month awards to their houses. Put on a happy face each day for the kids. Put popcorn on the shopping list.