My life is a musical comedy, at least that’s what my students think. One even went so far as to tell me I was better than anything on Netflix right now. I should be worried, but I am not. It was probably one of the best compliments they could give me. It means I’m relevant, that I matter, that they listen and I am immensely grateful.
I teach middle school virtual PE in French Immersion. Wow that’s a mouthful. No, don’t ask how I do it, I’m not sure sometimes. I know I am creative andI like to reimagine the curriculum and collaborate with others to come up with a plan. I like lists and set out expectations and learning goals from the start, but sometimes I also scrap all that just to hear a laugh or have a conversation with my students.
You see, I stare at little avatars on a black background all day, every day. I have been teaching remotely for over a year. I have some students whose faces I have yet to see (yes I know it’s May, but our district hasn’t mandated cameras on) and so I try to make the classes entertaining. If not for their sakes, then for my own. For example, I now start my class activities by saying” Don’t forget to put away your parents, siblings, animals and toys. Oh and put on pants before you turn on your cameras!” I also start every class 5 minutes late just to give everyone the chance to chat, settle in or fix their tech issues. I play music all the time and quote song lyrics like it’s my job. I post work with hidden easter eggs that they have to find to complete it and I make units like “TikTok inspired” movement videos. Let’s not get me started on the proper use of tiny hands either (if you know, you know). That’s a pretty good list, but that’s not all.
And it’s true. I am exhausted, but I wouldn’t change this experience for anything.
Sure my students try to guess my caffeine consumption by the speed of my words (and the size of my mug) and yes, I have been known to wear hoodies and leggings on the daily, but you see, I am also learning to let go and enjoy the uncontrollable. I have embraced self-care since strict professionalism is hard to hold onto when your dog decides to clean herself in the frame behind you. I am practicing what I preach with deep slow breaths as my kids run screaming through the frame or crying for mommy. Let’s just say; the chat lights up when I say “Just a minute” when my son is up to mischief. I swear they pull out the popcorn and try to predict what my household has done this time. Oh and staff meetings? A whole lot less stressful when you are pedalling on your stationary bike with the camera on for over a hundred staff to see.
So when you are struggling with student engagement, I challenge you to go outside your recommended playlist. Let go. Do you. Join me for a walk or ride during your staff meetings and don’t be afraid to show who you are because you never know; your personal Netflix movie just might be as entertaining as mine and the students need to see that.
I should write a book after this, or at least a blog post… and here we are.
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