I'm a few weeks into this new semester with my First Amendment class at the law school down the street and reader, let me tell you: teaching a class is so weird in These Uncertain Unprecedented Times We're All In This Together.
My university made the decision to require that around 60% of all classes be offered exclusively online this semester. The rest of the classes are taught both in person and over Zoom (for anyone who has symptoms or is otherwise uncomfortable meeting in a group).
The school has some really strict measures in place to keep in-person classes as safe as possible. For example, there is only one class in the building at a time. They also have seats blocked off so students have to sit 6 or more feet apart. Everyone has to wear masks. Everyone is supposed to wipe down their areas before and after. Everyone is supposed to leave the building as soon as class ends.
The school asked me if I was comfortable teaching in person and I said I was because I don't believe in science I'M KIDDING DON'T EMAIL ME. I thought the measures sounded good enough that I wouldn't feel at great risk. Also, I haven't left my house since The Year Of Our Lord Eleventy and I'm starting to lose my mind greatly so I thought it would probably be good for me to have two events a week where I see 14 other humans.
But oh boy. Let me tell you something. It is a challenge to teach to a large mostly-empty room of spread-out people, in a mask, and simultaneously minding the Zoom screen of students at home.
The facilities at the law school are really incredible. When I start Zoom two giant screens are lowered, shades come down over all the windows, and the students all pop up on the screens, crystal clear. There are mics all over the room and incredible speakers so for the most part everyone can hear one another really well.
About 1/3 of the class attends via Zoom and the rest are in the room with me. This class focuses very heavily on class discussion. The assigned readings are Supreme Court cases dealing with the First Amendment and then we gather and discuss them.
The class goes for 90 minutes twice a week and by the time class ends I usually feel like I need to engage in a thousand hibernations. It is so exhausting. I taught this class last year and it could sometimes zap me then, too, but there is something so much more draining about dealing with the COVID of it all.
Today as I walked out of class and climbed into my car, feeling sorry for my tired self, it hit me how wildly difficult it must be for teachers who are doing this all day right now. I cannot imagine how challenging it must be in any setting, but the thought of having to wrangle 30 children for hours on end, every single day, anywhere in any way, seems so daunting to me right now, especially if that's being done over the internet.
I know these feel like empty platitudes, but I honestly don't know why we don't pay teachers exactly one trillion dollars per hour. I've never taught children in school for a full day, so I may be miscalculating and maybe it's actually the easiest job in the world and everyone who's done it has a secret pact not to tell anyone what a scam career it is. But I doubt it. From my perspective of just trying to teach some adults right now for a few hours a week, full-time teaching of children has to be the most exhausting job on this planet.
So, look. I don't have kids. But a full ass thank you to all of you teachers who are making things work, whatever your situation is. I'm so sorry that a lot of it so sucks right now. For what it's worth, this dude in Salt Lake City who thinks your job is probably not a scam wishes he could pay you one trillion dollars an hour. PLUS BENEFITS.
Until I figure out a way to make that happen, please at least enjoy this photo of my sister's new puppy, who I think might actually fix 2020.
~It Just Gets Stranger