Today’s post is a question that I recently received. A teacher writes:
I feel like all of the joy has been sucked out of teaching this year due to the restrictions and the increased emphasis on safety. For example, I feel like I am required to have the students wash their hands constantly over teaching them to read and write. What ideas do you have so that I like my job more right now?
Unfortunately, there are moments of any job and workday that are not pleasant and can be seen as highly annoying. One of my good friends always says, we are paid for the times that are not fun and enjoyable because it won’t be amazing 100% of the time. COVID has brought many challenges and changes into the classroom, which can lead to more work-related frustrations. More frequent hand-washing seems to be one of most recent teaching frustrations that has developed due to the pandemic. Though it is necessary to keep students safe, hand washing should not take the place of instructional time. In order to ensure that teaching is happening, one idea is to be creative with how and when the students wash their hands. Some ideas are to have the students wash their hands before they enter the classroom in the morning. This way, their hands will be clean before they sit down at their desks. Other than when students use the bathroom, I would also suggest having them wash their hands before and after eating lunch and snack. Otherwise, if permissible by your local district, consider using approved hand sanitizer and hand wipes while the children are at their desks or between lessons. Think about ways to make the new policies manageable for you and your students rather than let it overwhelm your whole day.
Though it is a stressful time right now, it is necessary to make the decision to include teaching moments into the school day – not just for you, but for the students who are in the classroom. They deserve to be exposed to content and learn new skills and strategies. One recommendation is to look at your schedule and plan when you will teach the different lessons for the curriculum. The teacher who asked this question teaches an early childhood grade level, I highly recommend including at least one read-aloud into each day. Make the books enjoyable and engaging so the kids are interested in reading and look forward to the read aloud time. A way to extend the read-aloud is to have the kids come together and do a shared writing on an aspect of the book – addressing specific skills and strategies that you want the students to learn and apply when reading or writing.
Teaching content, such as read-alouds or shared writing lessons are moments that can bring joy back into teaching because you are exposing the students to quality literature and authentic writing – two areas many elementary literacy teachers are passionate about! And, they are lessons that do not require manipulatives – and hopefully hand-washing!
Are you struggling to find joy in your teaching these days? If so, what are the challenges you are facing?