I Love Teaching, But Hybrid Learning Is Killing Me

I Love Teaching, But Hybrid Learning Is Killing Me

I laid my head on my desk and closed my eyes. It’s my daily routine now during my planning period. As soon as the few in-school students leave my classroom, I turn out the lights to alleviate my screen-induced headache and take a moment to just clear my mind. It hasn’t always been this way; I used to use this time to make copies and phone calls, but this year is different. I’ve always been “teacher tired”, don’t get me wrong, but this level of exhaustion is something I’ve yet to experience in my five years of teaching.

I’ve never been responsible for kids at school AND at home. I’ve never taught to students in two locations at once. I’ve never held TWO jobs at one time. I’ve never been so inadequately paid for my time. And I’ve never been so burned out. This is hybrid learning.

It’s not that I’m trying to complain; I really tried to buy into how this year would be “easier”: fewer students to discipline, one workday per week without students, promising programs. However, I’d trade these things and hybrid learning in a heartbeat for normalcy. 

So I sit here, in the dark, for 45 minutes each day, knowing I should be preparing for my next class—but paralyzed by constant thoughts and nonstop headaches…and I’m certainly not the only teacher feeling this way.

Are the kids at home REALLY having tech issues? Or are they just procrastinating? How can I keep them motivated?

Now I’m having tech issues. I hate to bother those in the office again. Maybe I can fix it myself—but how? I barely understand this.

Are the kids at home being taken care of? For some, school was their outlet and their safe space. Are they getting that at home? Am I doing enough to make sure they’re okay? It’s not my job anyways…but still. I worry.

Did I answer EVERY email? I bet there’s one missing in here somewhere. How can I be sure? I hope the parents have what they need from me. I hope no one is angry.

Am I using too much head space on my online students? Am I being present for the ones right in front of me? “Distance learning” is taking me somewhere else when I already have somewhere to be.

When I’m at my computer, I feel as if I should be helping my in-class students and while I’m present in the moment, there’s this heaviness constantly weighing on me to check and check and check my computer to ensure learning and listening from those on the screen.

Even during fire drills—I’m expected to continue monitoring those at home WHILE making sure my students are social distancing. There’s simply not enough of me.

What about everyone’s health? There’s ALWAYS that constant worry. Did we make the right call coming back to school? I question it every time a neighboring school closes because of spiked coronavirus cases. 

Am I bringing home something to my own children? They’re 8 and 3. I thought about quitting, but that just wasn’t an option. Not to mention the burned-out, worrisome version they’re now getting of their mommy.

I wish I had all the answers to the questions that play like a constant reel in my head every day but I’m just clueless as to how long it will be like this or if I’ll ever measure up to the demands of this new learning. For now, I’ll cope with my head on my desk in a dark classroom in the middle of the day. Sometimes I’ll fall asleep, sometimes I’ll pray, and sometimes I’ll just give myself permission to be numb to it all and stop thinking for a moment, regardless of how far behind I become as a result of it. My own body and mental health are worth more than any menial task I can check off during my break.

I love teaching–but this year, I’m doing anything but that. Maybe one day we look back on this time as a “learning phase” and we become better because of it—but right now, I haven’t figured out how to fit two jobs into one. And I haven’t quite figured out how “teaching” fits into hybrid learning.

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I Love Teaching, But Hybrid Learning Is Killing Me

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Whitney Ballard is a writer and teacher from small town Alabama. She owns the Trains and Tantrums blog, https://trainsandtantrums.blog/. Whitney went from becoming a mom at sixteen to holding a Master’s degree in Education; she writes about her journey, along with daily life, through a Christian lens on her blog. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in the backyard with her husband, two boys, and two dogs.

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