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20 Things Only Remote Teachers Understand


For many of us the school year is drawing to a close, and let’s just say it was unlike any year we’ve ever seen. We all literally changed everything we do and how we do it and just kept trucking. So let’s look back at some of the lessons we learned.

1. Unlimited bathroom breaks are kinda nice

Not gonna lie, being able to pee whenever I wanted was a pleasant bonus while we all sheltered in place. Although I probably shouldn’t have taken the laptop with me to answer parent emails. It’s going to be super hard going back into the classroom and re-training my bladder for marathon sessions of holding it.

2. Teaching is exhausting, even from my couch

Not that any of us were looking forward to making this switch, but we all at least thought it would be kind of nice teaching from the comfort of our couches. Yet here we all are… completely wiped out. How is that even possible?  

3. Pajamas should be added to the dress code

OK, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows as we made this transition, but no teacher was complaining about staying in their PJs all day long. I haven’t worn real clothes in weeks now and I’m legitimately afraid for both me and my clothes when I try to wear them again. 

4. Teaching in a classroom is apparently a good workout

As a teacher you just get used to staying on your feet all day long and coming home spent. But who knew it was also a great way to burn calories and keep our metabolism working? After three months of staying at home my metabolism is somewhere around a hibernating bear that’s been hit with a tranquilizer dart.

5. Even virtual staff meetings can be mind-numbing

One advantage teachers expected to have during the stay-at-home orders was the elimination of faculty meetings. Then along came Zoom and suddenly our hopes were dashed. Soon we were forced to watch fellow teachers get way too close to their cameras, all talk over each other at once, and struggle to figure out the mute button. Riveting… simply riveting.

6. Not dealing with pencil sharpeners and jammed copiers is how you achieve nirvana

Teaching from home may not always be peaceful and serene, but the silence that comes from no electric pencil sharpeners is pure zen. And with the switch to online learning, suddenly we didn’t need to run to the copier every morning. Sure we know it’ll be waiting to jam on us when we return, but until then we’ll take the win.

7. Turns out “not enough time at home” was not the reason my house is always a mess

There were high hopes for a lot of us. Spending more time at home seemed like a wonderful opportunity to whip our homes into shape. But after spending 10 hours a day answering emails, grading assignments, and sitting through 5 Zoom meetings the last thing on our mind was sweeping the floor.

8. Students have an endless supply of funny nicknames at their disposal

Faculty meetings on Zoom were bad enough but for any of us who attempted to hold an actual class with our students on Zoom, we were bombarded by every inappropriate nickname known to man. These kids know we can hear and see them right? Well, the ones who remembered to turn on their video anyway. 

9. Having unlimited time for lunch does not mean I should have unlimited lunches

It was exciting at first to have the ability to eat whenever we wanted. It was quite literally the thing we’ve wanted for years. Sadly being within walking distance of the refrigerator isn’t always such a great idea. I don’t know who I got to know better these last three months? My family or carbs.

10. Any corner of the house can be turned into a teaching workstation

via GIPHY

Boy teachers are flexible! We all became remote teachers on a dime and kept on trucking. And in doing so we turned our homes into virtual classrooms. Turning our kitchen into a workspace? You bet! Using our shower as a whiteboard? Check. You name it, we used it!

11. Students are way more interested in what my house looks like than my lessons

Teachers go to some pretty amazing lengths to keep students interested. But one of the most challenging things we’ve ever had to do was keep their attention in Zoom meetings. No matter how we angled the camera, students got a good look at our homes for the first time ever and they could not have been more excited about it.

12. It’s really hard to make a relatable lesson that involves my favorite Netflix show

Whether you watched Tiger King or found some other show to occupy your free time, we all found something to help us pass the time. But try as we might to turn our new addictions into fun and interesting lessons, there are just no good assignments you can create based on women feeding husbands to tigers.

13. Not having access to my teacher buddy sucks

A teacher buddy is one of the most valuable resources you can have, and we’ve all been without ours ever since the schools closed. And it sucks. A lot. We all miss each other and can’t wait to get back into our classrooms so we can run next door and see our buddies again.

14. We skipped standardized tests and we were all just fine

Weird right? A year without standardized tests and yet kids still learned and the world continued to spin. And for one brief shining moment teachers were able to focus on what we thought our students needed to know instead of what we thought was going to be asked on a test. Hey lawmakers, we hope you were all paying attention!

15. We also skipped Field Day and were also just fine

Yes Field Day (and many other end-of-the-year activities) are wonderful events that let students blow off steam after a long school year. But for teachers it means spending hours outdoors chasing your class all over God’s green Earth. When it’s over, teachers are just hot, sweaty messes of humanity. There’s a lot we missed out on, but secretly we were kinda glad to skip this one.

16. Teaching students how to use technology is way harder than teaching curriculum

Teaching is hard enough as it is, but during our lockdown we also had to become IT specialists. So there we were teaching students how to use their computer WHILE USING A COMPUTER! It’s like teaching on life’s hardest difficulty setting.

17. It turns out 100% of staff meetings really could have been emails after all

Not even a global pandemic could make staff meetings stop, but it did teach us a valuable lesson. Not a lot got done in those Zoom meetings, but the follow-up emails sure were easy to read and understand. Let’s hope that’s a change that sticks around.

18. No sane teacher can ever master all the online resources administration gave us

It was truly impressive how helpful administrators and school districts were in making sure teachers had everything they needed to be successful. But if you think any of us were going to sit through 35 different trainings on brand new online resources you’re crazy. There’s only so much one teacher can learn.

19. Virtual graduations are nice, but they’ll never replace the real thing

In the midst of all of this craziness, schools did everything they could to make graduating students feel special. Virtual graduations, Zoom commencement speeches and drive-by celebrations were as wonderful as they could be, but they’ll never replace the real thing. Of all the heartbreaks we had to suffer, not being able to say goodbye to our graduates may have been the worst.

20. They may occasionally drive me crazy, but I really miss seeing my students every day

Our students are a unique group of kids. No two classrooms are ever the same and the memories you make with them last a lifetime. Sure we Zoomed and emailed and communicated as best we could, but it just couldn’t replace all being together in the classroom. 

Out of all the lessons we learned, the fact that this is all about the children is easily the most important, and we can’t wait to see them all again next year.

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20 Things Only Remote Teachers Understand

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David Rode

Dave is a middle school math teacher. He's also a musician, a community theater, dad to two amazing children, and he doesn't get a lot of sleep.

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