A Winter’s Tale (or What Would Shakespeare Do?) A Modern Tragicomedy

If the past informs the future, the 2021 school year should be a breeze. We’ve got this!

Davina Lyons

There were countless conversations about how different the world of primary and secondary education became during the Covid19 pandemic, but to sum it up in the manner in which Rosemarie Schaut has done is brilliant.

An English Language Arts teacher, Rosemarie, wrote the following modern tragicomedy sometime during the pandemic and shared it on Facebook. I asked if I could share it in my blog as a practical example of creative writing. She graciously permitted me.

A Winter’s Tale (or What Would Shakespeare Do?) A Modern Tragicomedy

Understand
that thirty-four years ago, I did not decide to become a high school English teacher
Because of my love of technology.

This is what no one tells you —
That you may have to divide yourself, zygotically.
Cells divided for the live classes
Cells multiplied on several screens for those at home.
Students pretending to be present, but who are actually ghosting,
Playing Halo or Call of Duty,
or feeding the cat.
Showing me their bedroom ceilings,
Their foreheads,
Their Uncle Frank.

Don’t forget to record yourself
(–“NOW can you hear me?”
“I think you are muted”,
“Does anyone know if Nick will be joining us?”
“Can you see my screen?”)
— for those who are too busy to be here
when you are.

Don’t forget to stop recording when the bell rings.
Remember to save, and to store, and to send, and to file, and to document.

Make sure you are in the hallways during the three minutes between classes.
Maintain social distancing.
Enforce mask protocol.
Disinfect.
Teach bell to bell.

You may have to contact parents.
Email administration when parents do not respond.
Keep trying.
Date and document your attempts.
Offer grace.

Eat lunch in your classroom.
Do not congregate with colleagues.
If a student, colleague, administrator enters your room during your lunch, put on your mask
Only eat and drink during lunch.
Maintain social distancing.
Do not leave students unattended to use the restroom.
It is important to stay hydrated.
Keep an open door policy.
Be safe.

We are moving you to a bigger classroom
Because we are increasing your enrollment.
And because your health and safety is important.
Please box up your extensive classroom library for storage.
By Monday.

If you are sick, stay home.
Please do not call in sick. There are no subs.
No one can do what you do.
We appreciate you.
Be grateful you have a job.
Do your job.

Here’s a card with a smiley-face in your mailbox.
Appreciate that we are thinking of you.
We are all in this together.

Stay positive.
Students are stressed.
Parents are stressed.
We will not have enough tech devices for all of your face-to-face students.
Everything must be online for the students who are remote.
Maintain rigor.

Keep an airflow.
Open your windows.
Open your doors,
Wear extra layers.
Speak loudly so everyone can hear.
Remain cautious of internal and external threats.
We will have a drill on Friday.
This drill is confidential.
Be ready.
Windows should be shut. Doors locked.
Prepare your students.

Don’t forget to turn on your Smartboard.
Don’t forget to turn on your video.
Don’t forget to angle your camera.
Don’t forget to lock public chat.
Don’t forget to unlock private chat.
Make sure students can hear you.
Make sure students can see you.

You must record for asynchronous learners.
Be aware of where you are standing.
Make sure to take accurate attendance.
Email the office if students arrive late.
Record the times in which they logged in.

Students are required to show their faces.
Don’t record student’s faces.
Speak loudly so everyone can hear.
Engage all learners.

We are still conducting observations.
We are still conducting evaluations.
We are still giving State Exams.
Scores still matter.
Study the data.
Use data to drive instruction.

Meetings immediately follow the final bell.
Follow the one-way traffic arrows in the hallways.
Be prompt.
Make yourself accessible to students and parents.
Remember self-care.

Connect with your students.
Build relationships.
Offer extensions.
Accept late work.
Accept poor work.
Accept excuses.
Accept defeat.

Don’t give up.

Remember: we are more than a test score.
Maintain rigor.
Show grace.

No, we cannot purchase that item.
We cannot replace that.
We cannot offer that.
It’s not in the budget.
We don’t have the resources.
We don’t have the money.
We don’t have the time.

Work smarter, not harder.
Take care of your health.

P.S You do not yet qualify for a vaccine.
We do not know when you will be eligible for the vaccine.

We appreciate you.
We’re all in this together.

By Rosemarie Schaut

Final thought: Look beyond the humor and see the conditions in which dedicated educators met and often exceeded. Now, show them some love when you have an opportunity. Please…and, thank you!

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