Before the school year began, I decided to resign as a teacher due to living in a pandemic riddled world. I made my prayerful decision based on my health concerns and that of my husband. No way would I risk exposing either of us to COVID-19 by entering a Petri dish environment of my classroom which would not be socially distanced, where I’d fight middle school students over the need to keep their mask on constantly, and just overall feeling of risk. So- I did it. Now I am in a crazy place of working as an online tutor for three different organizations. Why three you ask? Because I hate being bored.
My old life involved creating amazing lessons to keep 100+ 7th graders engaged. Then weeknights and weekends grading all those amazing essays they wrote for me filled my time. On occasion, my students produced some quality work, after I’d drilled in them HOW to write that amazing essay. Now, I sit in front of my Chromebook, waiting for a student to ding in for assistance and click wildly with my mouse trying to claim the lesson before another tutor beats me. I either need a bigger mouse or a quicker response or to go against other slow tutors because I sometimes miss it. “Ding!” gotta get that … oh snapdragon …missed it again!! I like it much better when a student notices that I am online and reaches out to me instead.
Sometimes I amuse myself with other tasks (play my dino game, crochet, write my own stories, play with the puppy, make lunch, do laundry, tidy up the house) while waiting for the ding of the bell. The waiting in silence reminds me of test days at school where I’d meander quietly around my room keeping a watchful eye out for potential cheaters. But basically just keeping myself from going stir crazy because complete silence begins to annoy the crap out of me if it goes on for too long. However, I really do not miss being buried in over 100 essays to grade.
It’s just that I’m not used to long amounts of time being idle. Quarantine has reduced me to this though. I am attempting to work out regularly, but oh my gosh it’s hard to keep motivated! The little girl at the gym in my yoga class made it fun. Plus, I secretly competed against the other women in my fitness class. Now it’s a thing to do – like taking my vitamins.
Granted there are some perks to this remote work lifestyle, as we’ve all seen posts on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook displaying the choices of fashion many opt for – a Zoom appropriate top paired with sweats or shorts or the ever-popular jammies. When my former school embarked into the world of distance learning this past Spring, we were required to dress semi-professionally since we had video chats with our students a couple of times a day. I am a rule follower (must be the English teacher in me), yet on occasion, I did have on my warmest sweats or comfiest shorts and fuzzy houseshoes. My students and parents really did not care that I had dressed for comfort with shorts and a t-shirt. They only cared that I showed up for their child which I did faithfully.
Today, while waiting for my new random students to chime in for help, I’m decked out in sweats and houseshoes because we have our first cold front. You probably do not care about that, but I feel the need to justify my fashion choice this morning. Besides, online students usually will not see me anyway and my new coworkers are busy in their own situations. Okay – only one co-worker – my husband – is in a remote part of the house working remotely also while our pup lounges on her pillow at his feet. So – has remote life changed my wardrobe? Definitely! As well as my daily hair and makeup routine. The bare minimum for sure and just enough makeup to seem human and put together.
Another perk of this new teaching environment- I can go to the bathroom anytime I want and no one will get into a fight while I’m gone. My little four-legged shadow insists on accompanying me to the restroom and stares at me though. I can eat a leisurely lunch outdoors if I desire. Did I mention it can be leisurely? Teachers should all enter food eating contests because we are the masters at scarfing down an entire lunch in under 5 minutes before we have to scurry back to our classrooms. Now I actually have time to prepare food! Must be where the quarantine 15 came from? No idea how because I did not bake one loaf of sourdough bread. Okay – I did make a few batches of zucchini bread, but that’s healthy right?
Well – such is the life of an online remote tutor, or at least this one. Maybe as the school year progresses, the business will begin to pick up. Right now, the majority of activity happens in the evening and nighttime hours, which doesn’t surprise me since I work with college students who are nocturnal creatures. So I am having to adjust to my new normal: watching TV in the evening, with a Chromebook perched in my lap helping students revise their essays. Wash, rinse, repeat, and start over again tomorrow.
Am I bored? Absolutely. Have I had moments where I almost burst into tears? Most definitely. I miss the buzz of my classroom. However, from conversations with my coworkers still in the trenches, I’d say I have a better situation right now. Schools are definitely enforcing that small print of the contract – other duties as assigned. My friends are exhausted more than the normal first weeks of school exhausted. For me, I’d say what I feel is more of a love/hate kind of thing. I pray this time of my life is seasonal much like a Texas panhandle snowstorm – intense for a few days producing a decent amount of snow only to melt within a day. Granted I know this time will last for more than a day. Shoot might end up being here at least a year or until I trust the results of the vaccines. In the meantime, I can amuse myself waiting for the ding.
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