As of right now, we’ve completed three full weeks of in person teaching during a pandemic. No hybrid schedule, just a “business as usual” normal enrollment classroom, except for a few students that opted into a separate remote learning program. During this non-stop “Everything is fine, IT’S FINE” chaotic spiral, I’ve found a few items that have been personally very useful. This is written as a “What the Teacher Needs” list rather than other tools to help your classroom function (Blog Post hopefully soon to come on that). We’ve found that families are incredibly supportive right now and want to support teachers so that their kids can stay in school, so I encourage you to reach out to families or your PTO to see if they are willing to purchase some of these items that are more specifically for instruction.
So, here’s a list of things that I’ve found to be helpful for me as a teacher, teaching 100% in person during a public health crisis.
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If you’re like me, you lose your voice during the “Back to School” season in normal conditions because you’re adjusting to talking and teaching all day. This is even worse now that we’re trying to project through a mask. A few of our teachers started using a voice amplifier like this one, and it has saved their voices.
Along the same lines as the amplifier, a megaphone has been helpful primarily during recess. Numerous teachers expressed concerns with wearing a whistle in the classroom and then putting their mouth on it when they need to get the students’ attention at recess, so a megaphone has been great for giving directions outside and calling the kids to line back up. Much easier to quickly wipe off with disinfectant wipes than a whistle.
A lot of my content has always been digital, but now I’m making sure every single things I do is in Google Slides so that if I do have a student absent I can easily link any instruction, content, & presentations they missed into Seesaw or Canvas. A presentation mouse has been great to allow me to move around the room more as I teach from my Slides so I’m not restricted to just being at the front of the room.
While I typically love my Yeti, I wanted a water bottle with a top that closed totally over the mouthpiece so that I wouldn’t have to worry as much about germs getting on it. I purchased an Owala water bottle during a BOGO sale on their site, and I absolutely love it. Easy to clean, has a straw option, carrying handle, and the mouthpiece is totally covered by the flip top.
I wear blue light blocking glasses a lot based on my amount of screen time, but wearing glasses is another way to help you to stop touching your face so much.
No surprise on this one. I’m in Illinois where we have a mask mandate in schools. I highly recommend 2 masks each day and switching out your mask at lunch because they get real sweaty and nasty as you teach. The masks that have worked the best for me are from Old Navy and Kitsch. The Old Navy ones cover your face well, don’t need a lot of adjusting as you teach, and some of them have the adjustable pieces to help fit your face better. I’ve just started wearing masks from Kitsch and find them very soft and comfortable, but they don’t cover my face as well as the Old Navy ones.
Tip: Keep some mesh laundry bags, normally meant for delicates, in your car so you can toss your dirty masks into them as soon as you’re done with work.
Along with masks… comes mascne (mask acne). The giant pimples forming all over my chin were out of control. I suggest keeping around some face wipes so that during lunch you can wipe your face and swap out to a new mask, and then also quickly wipe your face off when you get in your car at the end of the day.
Another obvious one, but invest in some hand sanitizer for sensitive skin. If you’re fortunate enough that your district is providing some, that’s great… but the hand sanitizer most likely smells terrible and will ruin your skin because you’re applying it so often.
Easy Wash Clothing
I hope that your district is being flexible on their dress code. While I normally really enjoy dressing up for work, this year it’s a lot of black pants or jeans and plain t-shirts. I bought multiple pairs of the exact same thing because I throw them into the wash as soon as I get home. Gone are the days of wearing the same pair of black pants multiple days in a row. Stock up on basics because you’ll be doing a lot of laundry.
Are you teaching in person? What has helped you?