Covid is being a giant pain in the butt at the moment. China has finally gotten the latest variant and it is spreading like crazy in our neighboring city Hong Kong. Because we are so close to them food is sent to them through us. Which is great because they need to eat but its also bad because it has been coming over the border as a result. We were testing every few days but at the moment we are being asked to get covid tested every day. Carter hates them but is now giving less of a fight. He echoed me yesterday and said “I don’t like the test and I don’t want the test, but we have to get the test.” We have been teaching online since Chinese New Year ended. At first we were able to teach from school, 2 weeks turned to 3 and after 3 it became unknown. So we are teaching online for the foreseeable future. The first 3 weeks I was sitting at school and teaching. I had 2 screens and an empty art room so I was feeling as good as you can considering its easier to teach art when kids are in the room. That suddenly changed though and we were being encouraged to start working from home. Right after they told us that, apartment complexes began being locked down. A lot of our coworkers and friends are hoping to be out of lockdown soon but are unsure at the moment. We are luckily not in those communities and hope to stay clear of a lockdown. Even though we aren’t locked in we are sticking close to home. The farthest we have traveled was to get tested at the apartment complex next door. It’s the closest test site to us and we have to test. We technically could go to school to work but we aren’t really supposed to unless there is a valid reason for it. So we are working from home and are currently 2 days in. I feel like I need to talk about it.
Let’s talk about Carter first. He is an amazingly awesome 3-year-old but he is still 3. This means he needs a lot of attention, which is great most of the time. Carter was the first of the family to not be able to go to school. The preschool has not been in school since early January. They were doing online classes but that is nearly impossible when both parents work. From what the parents are saying to the admin it is nearly impossible even if a parent doesn’t work. Online class just isn’t made for wiggle worms. So we sent him to a daycare but soon decided that was not where we wanted him. When we went online the school had some of the staff help parents take care of the kids. He still wasn’t doing the online portion but he was with people that were competent and he was safe. As a bonus he got to play with his friend everyday (Carter wants you to know that “He is big but Sam is not. Sam is small.”). Of course once we were asked to work from home that ended. It has been 2 days since I began teaching at home with a toddler and I don’t believe it. I feel like I am at least a hundred years older. How the hell do preschool teachers handle a room full of these adorable little scamps? I know that it’s a little different, I am not teaching Carter but I am teaching a couple hundred kids online and dealing with him the same time. Still, at the end of the day I am in awe. I take care of Carter all day because I actually have less class periods than Michelle does. We hoped to send him for part of the day, about the time I start teaching, to a friend’s house but with covid lockdowns happening we are just keeping him home.
The next issue I am struggling with is the technology. The computer I have at school is not new, nor is it state of the art but it is a desktop. Desktops aren’t as handy to carry around but they work really well for a situation like this. My biggest advantage though is my dual monitor set up. I was able to use the ‘share my screen’ option in teams on one monitor while I had the chat Teams chat and video window up in another. I could also look things up online on the non-shared screen and could easily access files I needed to send the students. It has been way more clunky now that I am running everything on an iPad. The lack of the second screen is noticeable but Teams runs differently on an iPad. Without the screen I have trouble keeping track of chat, the student videos, and the files I need to send the class when I am sharing the screen. I have had to bring my phone in so I can keep track of the chat and you definitely need to watch the chatroom. It’s a delicate balancing act that I hope becomes easier with practice. The whole flow and look of teams is different on the iPad as well. There are some things I like. The sharing options seem to be better laid out and the students images pop up below. The images are too small if they are sharing their work to the camera. Then there is the fact that my home internet speed is a lot slower than our school connection. Michelle and I are both teaching for hours at a time and it’s not really ready to handle much more. So far it has held up and I hope it continues to. The move home has meant Michelle had to switch from Zoom to Teams. She is not familiar with Teams and that has been a headache for her. I don’t fully know all the ins and outs of Teams and the issues she has had have not been issues I have had to deal with. This means she is frustrated at the computer and asking for help but I can’t help. Which is never a great feeling. I know it will get easier with time but let’s hope that time hurries up and gets here already. Or better yet we get to go back to school to teach again.
The worst part about this battle with covid isn’t online school though. It’s that I am no longer out exploring and snapping fun pictures. It’s gonna be a light picture blog for a while I’m afraid. I hope you can stick with me through it.