June 14, 2021

Things I learned teaching in 2020-2021.

This student picture absolutely breaks my heart, but I'll frame it for next year for sure. 

 1. I need a mouse. My work computer was a MacBook and I have no idea how people do serious business (like Zoom teaching) on a MacBook without a mouse. It made life so much easier once I figured that out. 

2. I'm not great at the 3-7 age group. The blends, the sounds, the sight words, the digraphs, the bossy r, the vowel patterns... it's not for me. 

I don't like the songs and the rhymes and the dances and the calendar and the constant repetition. I don't like centers and introducing kids to concepts for the first time. I like prior knowledge. I like half-filled schemas. I feel like I spent a lot of time doing pre-K, kindergarten, and 1st grade this year. It's eye-opening to how hard those teachers work. 

I like the 8-10 age group. They have prior knowledge. They can write. They can read. They can do math. Grades 2-4 are where I need to be.

I used to think that high school teachers were being dramatic when they'd say that they "could never" teach elementary. Well, now I know that feeling because I have spent so much time in primary this year. Guys, I could never. 

3. I learned that an egg has an air sac and that oviparous means animals that hatch from an egg/lay eggs. I really must've missed that day in elementary school. 

4. Honestly, I learned how to Zoom-teach, how to screen share, how to use the doc cam/hover cam with Zoom, how to follow health guidelines in a school, how to keep kids separated into cohorts at recess, how to teach with a mask on, how to still accept hugs because it's important, and how to meet dozens and dozens of new people without ever shaking a hand. 

5. I was thrown into long-term subbing without any training or previous knowledge of the curriculum. That's no one's fault; subs generally aren't trained. I was hired as a full-time COVID sub with extra money from the federal/state funds. Meaning, a handful of teachers were always out quarantining for a week+ at a time. That meant that a sub needed to teach that class for many days in a row. I did this primarily in one school but did work in all of the schools in the district. Beginning in February, I did two long-term 1st grade positions for the rest of the school year for teachers who had to be out for months at a time. Luckily they were right next door to each other! (see: teaching about eggs). I did the planning, the testing, the data, etc. 

My point to #5 here is that: if I wouldn't have had years of experience in curriculum series' and data and testing and planning, I never would've figured all of this out. The biggest hurdle was just figuring out how the technology worked in the district and then every classroom ran pretty much the same. 

My biggest challenge overall this year was my three weeks in special education. I went from class to class, from Zoom to Zoom, teaching 1-4 kids at a time, all completely individualized, all. day. long. 


Those are kind of the specifics on what I learned in 2020-2021 when it came to teaching. It was baptism by fire most days but I feel incredibly prepared when it comes to taking on my own classroom again next year. This was a crash course refresher, under very unique high-pressure circumstances. 

Next year, I will be teaching 4th grade in Missouri. I don't get too specific on where I work and what I do on the blog, but it's a district I've worked for previously since we are going back to a location where we've already been.

Mostly, I'm just relieved to be getting back to 4th grade! If you're new here, I taught 4th grade for seven years and 2nd grade for one year. I think I could do 2nd or 3rd again, happily. However, I've had enough 1st grade curriculum to last me a lifetime. 


  1. Love this! You were so needed I know! So you are teaching again! You will find it tons easier with your own classroom instead of jumping into others’ culture I think. I agree about the slightly older kids. 4th seems like such a great grade - more pressure as the content deepens and they get closer to middle.

  2. I am a sub- though not a teacher certified sub- prior knowledge is the key for me as well. I pretty much avoid all elementary though 4th or 5th is ok. I like 6th grade a lot and junior high more than I thought. It is amazing what educators (and students!) went through this year. Kudos to you!


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