Teaching After the Strangest Year Ever


August 1, 2021 by Dr. Robbie Barber

Back to school this week, but there’s time for this last week of blogging with Penny Christensen. This post is Week 8 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators. The prompt for this week is: Share new knowledge/skills/attitudes you gained this past year.

First, teachers, along with myself, reported on Monday. We spent Monday morning in a combination of meetings and training. We spent most of Tuesday in field meetings and training. And, we spent most of Wednesday setting up rooms, setting up online information, department meetings, decorations, PLC meetings, meeting meetings, etc. Okay, not the last, but it felt like it. Thursday was getting ready for Open House, followed by Open House from 2pm – 6:30 pm. By the way, several of these days were without air conditioning in 90F weather. Friday was classroom, meetings, makeup meetings (for real!), and a long faculty meeting to close out the week. I say all this (which is normal for any teacher in preplanning week) to say that I was not sure what knowledge/ skills or attitudes I had gained in the past year before we went back. Now, I have a better idea.


My attitude ranged last year from ‘I can do anything with nothing’ to ‘I’m tired of having nothing’ to ‘does anyone care?’

Yes, teachers and students both cared. I learned that people can change if motivated. I learned that it is absolutely vital for me to take breaks during the day. (Working through lunch is fairly normal in the Media Center.) It is also necessary to leave work, walk the dogs, and do nothing at all for periods of time. I learned it was okay to be mad or upset; just not okay to stay mad or upset.

I learned that compliments should not be held back but doled out frequently. I learned that students may not answer if I ask how they’re doing, but they still want me to ask. I learned that small gestures of support like baked goods made others feel good, even if they didn’t partake. Show you care.

Knowledge / Skills

Knowledge are the facts acquired and some definitions include the skills acquired. I know how the online classrooms work. I know how to send messages to students, parents, and staff. I know the importance of communication. I know the importance of planning.

I read articles, books, blogs, and twitter posts to come up with solutions or ideas for the school. I did not do this alone. I shared with others my favorites, and they shared with me theirs.

My skills in video meetings went from nonexistent to setup and run in minutes. I thought I was flexible with technology before but I found myself contoured in strange ways trying to help teachers, students, admin, and parents working in an online environment.

The greatest skill is one we can all acquire. It is simply connection and communication with others. I had a great number of problems, but I had the emails or phone numbers of many others. I wrote for help (or answered others) on our librarian’s group email. I called IT people for an explanation of a problem and then broke down the solution for my teachers.

The one true thing in the pandemic is that as isolated as we were, we had the ability to come together to create something wonderful. My students taught me that.

One thought on “Teaching After the Strangest Year Ever

  1. Denise Krebs says:

    Wow, what a busy week back in preparation for the new year. I love your challenge and specifics in reaching out and showing care. So important these days. Everyone’s mental health is more fragile than it was a couple years ago, I’m guessing.

    I can so relate to what you wrote here: “My skills in video meetings went from nonexistent to setup and run in minutes. I thought I was flexible with technology before but I found myself contoured…”

    Well put. I like that contoured to describe what happened with your technology flexibility.


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