#08: How I Survived Going Back to Face to Face Instruction

How to Fix Frequent Mistakes in Student Writing

TL;DR: 1. Meet your students at their needs before jumping into content. 2. Don’t over-extend yourself like I do.

I went back to face to face instruction on Monday, February 1st. We had been virtual again since early November. After 84 days, I finally got to educate kids inside my classroom instead of my laptop screen. Finally, I got to banter with my colleagues, office staff, admin, and parents. It was a great week, but it was a tough one. I managed (or attempted to) two facets of life to be most successful; here are my experiences. In them, I hope you find some tips or strategies to help you have a smooth transition back, whenever it may be. 

The Customer 

The priority of any business begins with satisfying the customer’s needs, so we’ll pick up there. Our customers are the kids that desks filled in our classrooms. I’ve been a part of the COVID-19 teaching experience since the beginning, so I knew straight away that it would be a mistake for me to jump straight into the content with my kids. 

I couldn’t pretend like going back to school again was a part of our everyday routine. The focal point of the first three days of my instruction was to simply reconnect and rebuild relationships. I set out to provide the students space to adjust through low stakes activities and assignments the first three days. 

My bell ringers for the first three days were the following: 

-Draw your favorite animal on Padlet, but don’t tell us what it is. 

-Complete the scribble: on paper, like they used to do many millennia ago)

-Write a one-liner joke (in service and promotion of an upcoming Student Council event) 

I teach English. These bell ringers don’t necessarily connect to the standards. They connect to the kids. I could argue how they fit into Danielson’s second domain, but that is beside the point. I found that the activities brought the kids back together through their conversations and jokes. The students started to shake their shells and began to engage in the subsequent work that we did. 

When we arrived on Thursday morning, I could tell they felt much more comfortable and ready to dive into the core content at the start of class. I would have difficulty making that argument if I didn’t meet the customers’ needs first. 

My Productivity

My productivity staggered immensely in the first week back. I get a lot of joy out of being busy and accomplishing tasks, and coming back to school forced me to analyze how I spend my time. 

When we went virtual, I no longer had to drive 40 minutes each way for my commute, meal prep my lunch, or spend nearly as much time picking out clothes. I knew I would lose a significant amount of time to get these mostly menial tasks done, so I lowered my expectations for the week when it came to what I could get accomplish outside of work. 

Unfortunately, I suffer from being a part of the human species, which led me to squeeze way too many tasks into not nearly enough hours. That led to a lot of stress. I recommend you do your best do not do that. Set yourself up to be successful by managing your time wisely. If you’re like me, and you often have a busy schedule, plan to cut some things out of it as you transition back. Otherwise, you make the mistake of cutting sleep out, and we don’t need even more exhausted zombies droning around the planet. 

Ultimately, like anything else, we’ll all adapt to our new environments, but we should be intentional about those transitions. If we set ourselves up for success, we set our students up for success. I wish you the most of luck as you go back to face to face instruction whenever that may be. 


If you’ve made it this far, do me a favor and reach out to me on twitter to connect and let me know what you think.

Interested in reading more? Here are my last three bits of writing.

#11 Am I Having Fun?
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#10: How Can We Fix Middle School?
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#09: These Jobs Came into Existence Since I was a Kid. What Jobs Will Exist for our Students?
There's an ISTE article with a knock you off your feet kind of title. It comes paired with an equivocal punch from the content of the article as well. The …
#07: How to Fix Frequent Mistakes in Student Writing
How to Fix Frequent Mistakes in Student Writing TL;DR: Here's a style guide I made for 7th & 8th Graders. Every English teacher or writer has read The Elements of …

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