Back In It!

I received the looks layered with grins and slight head shakes. The looks came from several of the teachers at Timberview Middle School who were wondering if they were seeing things. I was back to start the new school year teaching the same class that I taught last year, seventh-grade language arts.

When the principal called me the week before school started in mid-August of 2020 and asked me to fill in for this class he was thinking, and indicating, that it would be for the first month of the academic year. The first month was then extended to the first quarter…and then the first semester…and then the whole school year. It was an amazing experience that I thoroughly enjoyed, but it was for…the one year!

This past week I received a communication from our new principal’s administrative assistant asking if I would fill in for the same position…for the first week! I started yesterday. The assistant principal thanked me for my willingness to help for the first week, and then she added, “Or maybe two!”

In sharing that news with a few of the teachers who were asking me what I would be doing I kept getting reactions like this: “Isn’t that how it started last year, Bill?”

Yes, but…but, well…this year is different!

And it is! Students will be in the classroom five days a week. There’s no hybrid learning model that will be occurring. Masks aren’t mandatory…at least, to begin with, so we won’t need to go outside and take mask breaks. Teachers won’t have to deal with the frustration of kids being online at home and have to keep asking them to turn their laptop cameras on. Side Point: There seemed to be so many broken laptop cameras that happened last year. It could have been a new entrepreneurial business venture for someone.

What seems to resemble the last school year is the shortage of teachers. There were more teachers who left the profession than new teachers coming into it. Schools are no different than the restaurant industry, commercial businesses, that term we keep hearing…”the supply chain”. I heard on the news this week that our city’s food bank supplier, Care and Share, was having to consider eliminating some of the food bank deliveries they make because of a shortage of drivers. In essence, those who depend on receiving food from one of the food banks may go hungry because there’s not someone to take the food to them.

Our educational institutions are encountering the same labor shortage. An email from our district went out this week urging coaches of our school’s athletic teams to get certified to drive one of the school district’s smaller buses because there aren’t enough bus drivers. Our school has custodian, para-professional, office assistants, and teaching positions that still need to be covered…and Monday is the first day for students.

So…here I am! Sharing my non-institutional-based teaching education, spiced with homespun humor, with inquisitive, hyper twelve-year-olds. They don’t realize my lack of qualification. They just assume my greying hair makes me qualified.

Maybe it will be for just the first week! Maybe it will speed into the second! All I know is that one of the 8th grade social studies teachers does not want it to be long-term. She’s expecting me to cover three weeks in September for her!

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