Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Class with Instructional Lunch


The chancellor had a flash of inspiration one day, and decided that he needed to maximize learning in schools. Now I'm just a lowly teacher, so I have no idea exactly what inspiration looks like on that lofty plain, that hallowed ground of the old Tweed building, named for the crookedest politician of all time (pre-Trump, of course).

That's why it's hard for me to fathom exactly what the thinking was behind this particular revelation. Consider the following--NY State opening guidelines state the following on page 29. You can check

 Turn desks (including teachers) to face in the same direction rather than facing each other to reduce transmission caused by virus-containing droplets (e.g., from talking, coughing, sneezing); 

Given that we can't even face one another because it's too risky, given that talking is listed as something we ought not to be doing while facing one another, how on earth is it okay for us to be sitting in the same classroom and eating?

I can't speak for all my colleagues, but if I were in a class with instructional lunch, I'd be wearing an N95 mask, a facial shield, a hairnet, and an entire body covering. That's what my doctor wore when she examined me a few weeks back. I would not consider eating, not for a moment. 

I'd advise students not to eat either. Perhaps this is conceived for younger students rather than high school students, but it would make no difference to me. 97,000 children just tested positive for Coronavirus, and this idea is a rebellion against common sense. 

As if that's not enough, who on earth wants to brush up on calculus while eating lunch? Back before the apocolypse, I used to eat lunch with a group of teachers. We had a table. There were generally two science teachers, a Spanish teacher, and a music teacher. The most we ever worked during lunch was never. We'd commiserate, tell stories, discuss the events of the day, tell jokes, and take a break from our busy days. 

There's a lot of talk about how kids need to go back to meet their social and emotional needs. I've written quite a bit about how the bizarre settings under which we'd be holding classes would make that difficult, if not impossible. Somehow, though, things weren't bad enough for the chancellor. 

We're already in a situation where social contact is severely restricted. To have a bunch of kids sitting in a room with an assignment on the board, eating while doing some sort of whatever, sounds pretty depressing to me. It would be a painful reminder of just what they were missing. As if that weren't enough, kids are often as aware as we are of what's going on. Imagine a young child sitting there worrying about getting infected, or infecting older relatives afterward?

I guess I could write the assignment on the board and then go sit in the back with my hazmat suit. That's not teaching, though. Absolutely anyone could write an assignment on the board and then go sit in a chair somewhere. Perhaps this is where Mayor de Blasio's grand experiment of letting Tweed flunkies go teach will truly shine. While I would not trust any of them to teach my kids on a bet, I'd be happy to see them write some busy work on the board while a small group of miserable children try to eat lunch and do busy work.

I'd feel terrible for the kids though. Tweedies who make 200K for going to gala luncheons may merit this sort of treatment, but 1.1 million kids deserve better. This is one of the worst ideas I've even heard, and whoever dreamed it up was certainly not a working classroom teacher.

I love being a working classroom teacher. Stepping into a miserable dystopian parody of what we really do in order to make the mayor look less incompetent hardly seems worth it. And if they mayor gave this any thought whatsoever, he'd likely realize that the responsible thing to do would be to go all remote until it were safe for us to really do what we do.

I don't know about you, but the Tweedies look less competent to me with each and every passing day.

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