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071: Teaching During COVID with Mareka Glaza

Hello! Welcome to episode 71 of I’d Rather Stay In. This week, we are joined by teacher Mareka Glaza as we chat about what it’s been like to teach during the past year.

Episode transcript

Unknown Speaker 0:00
Welcome to I’d rather stay in with your hosts Megan Myers and Stephie Predmore. This week we’re chatting about teaching during COVID with our guest Mareka Glaza. Stay tuned.

Unknown Speaker 0:15

Unknown Speaker 0:17
hi Stephie How’s it going?

Unknown Speaker 0:19
Oh, it’s good. It’s

Unknown Speaker 0:20
go in. What’s up with you, Megan?

Unknown Speaker 0:24
Well, I got a Sephora order yesterday.

Unknown Speaker 0:29
Oh, I

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love a support order.

Unknown Speaker 0:32
It was my it’s my birthday soon. And so I had to get my fancy PSA for a birthday gift that they do every year,

Unknown Speaker 0:40
which I never remember to do for the right.

Unknown Speaker 0:42
So then, of course, I had to get some other stuff. And because I’m trying to figure out how to re insert myself back into society now. It sounds like I’m gonna be a debutante or something. I’m going to be appearing at the next britischen ball. I was like, Oh, I I should get some concealer. Because I

Unknown Speaker 1:06
have dark hair both after this last year.

Unknown Speaker 1:09
Yeah, just a little bit. And so I fretted about what kind of concealer to get what shade because there’s 30 different shades. And I did the internet. So I don’t know how to describe my face.

Unknown Speaker 1:25

Unknown Speaker 1:26
And so I just picked one. And I came. And then I was trying it on today. And then I was putting all my things away. And I was organizing my makeup and stuff. I found a tube of concealer. And it is the exact same color that I ordered.

Unknown Speaker 1:48
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Do we think that you just did a really good job of remembering or did you want to try something new?

Unknown Speaker 1:55
I definitely did not remember

Unknown Speaker 1:58
that I had ever ordered it before because it had been so long ago that you write makeup. Um,

Unknown Speaker 2:05
and I guess I would have just assumed that would have showed up as like a thing that would say you’ve already ordered this like on Amazon. Oh,

Unknown Speaker 2:14
apparently support does not

Unknown Speaker 2:16
know how it saves it like in your orders. But then you have to have the mind to go back and check. No, that’s why wait. No, I The color is fine. I was just more proud of myself that I consistently picked the same random color

Unknown Speaker 2:35
off of the internet. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 2:36
apparently. Over a year apart. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 2:40
I mean, my benefit when I’m like buying things that are of that nature, like foundations and concealers is that I can usually buy the palest color that they have. And it usually works.

Unknown Speaker 2:53
Well. That was the thing. They have many pale shades. And they were all like, pale. It was basically like light with pink undertones light with yellow undertones. Uh huh. Pale with pink under. Like, which,

Unknown Speaker 3:09
which one is which?

Unknown Speaker 3:11
So I have the very I don’t know how to feel how I feel about the name of vanilla. As my concealer color. Butter. I

Unknown Speaker 3:23
mean, it’s a pretty name. It’s better than some makeup names I’ve

Unknown Speaker 3:26

Unknown Speaker 3:28
I mean better than like yogurt. That

Unknown Speaker 3:30
Yes, that would be

Unknown Speaker 3:32
that would be I have seen that a guy’s I’ve seen that as a makeup name.

Unknown Speaker 3:36
So let’s say your face though or like nail polish.

Unknown Speaker 3:39
Like makeup. It goes on your face. I think it will maybe no, maybe it was eyeshadow. It was like in an eyeshadow palette. But there was darlings Yeah. And it was not a color that yogurt should ever actually be. So I wasn’t really concerned about these people that were naming this eyeshadow palette because I was like this is not. I don’t like if this is the color that your yogurt is I think we need to like go through your fridge and maybe do like a cleaner. Like I’m a little worried. So but yes, Uh huh. Yeah. Can I have their job because I would do a better job. Thank goodness. Oh, well, I feel like your plan to re insert yourself into society is just a nice summary of where we’re all at. Like,

Unknown Speaker 4:27
what do we do? Right?

Unknown Speaker 4:28
How do we do this?

Unknown Speaker 4:30
I forgot so try and try to put eyeliner on today. I was like, Oh, no, it was absolutely not. It didn’t go well. Absolutely not.

Unknown Speaker 4:37
Well, luckily, you have like a month before you do family pictures to like practice. So

Unknown Speaker 4:44
yes, that is good.

Unknown Speaker 4:49
Yeah, I don’t remember how to do anything. I don’t remember how to dress myself. I don’t remember how to put makeup on. I luckily my hair if I let my hair curl It just does its own thing. And so that helps me but I definitely have had multiple times in the last couple of weeks where I’m like, close

Unknown Speaker 5:13
an out. Clock.

Unknown Speaker 5:15
I have to be together.

Unknown Speaker 5:18
Something that doesn’t sweat. Oh, dear. Hmm,

Unknown Speaker 5:23
yeah. When I went to go open my new bank account, I was like, should I wear the jeans that have many, many holes in them? Yes, yeah. Well, and that’s what I have.

Unknown Speaker 5:33
And then you and I purged so much, so much for my closet, which was great. But now I have a lot fewer things to like, thumb through. And I’m,

Unknown Speaker 5:45
I mean, I saved you time, because you did something dumb and discarded anyway.

Unknown Speaker 5:50
Well, yes. And many of the things that not fit anymore, and so they needed to go like they needed to go to a different home. But I also am like looking at my closet. And I’m like, Oh, hi. Like, Oh, nothing, like nothing that looks decent. Unless it’s like a sun dress. And then I’m like, Okay, I have some dresses. But pants? Oh, absolutely not. So it’s okay, we’re gonna figure it out. Maybe if we don’t, it’s fine.

Unknown Speaker 6:22
Arts really needs pants.

Unknown Speaker 6:23
No one really needs pants or children can just be we’re like at the age where we should be embarrassing our children anyway. So it’s cool. It’s cool. We’re fine. We’re fine. So speaking of children, we know that any of us who have children of school age, like mega does, knows that the last year has been really interesting. Let’s just say when it comes to school. And we have several teacher friends that we’ve sort of been watching from afar as they have been trying to figure out teaching during the pandemic. And so we thought it would be good to talk about that today.

Unknown Speaker 7:02
Yeah, to chat about the past year and the future of education. We’ve invited on teacher Mareka Glaza. Welcome, Mari.

Unknown Speaker 7:13
Hello, welcome. Hi. I mean,

Unknown Speaker 7:20
thank you for welcoming us to our podcast. We love you having you here. We’re

Unknown Speaker 7:24
all welcome here.

Unknown Speaker 7:26
Mari, please tell our listeners a little about yourself.

Unknown Speaker 7:30
So my name is Mari Glaza, and I was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that’s a big part of who I am. It’s not just a hometown, it’s a way of life. Um, I am, I went to the University of Michigan, and I graduated there, from there in 2009. And then I taught for a year abroad in Spain with the language and cultural Ambassadors Program set up by their government. And I was contracted to teach English in a Elementary School in Andalusia. And then following that year, I decided to give Austin a try. And I moved here, I worked for a year and a Montessori School, that was ages, like two months to five years. And then I did an alternative certification program to get my teaching certification, and begin what is now my career in bilingual education. So that kind of brings us up to where we’re at now, I have two dogs, and I currently teach first grade in a one way dual language classroom.

Unknown Speaker 8:38
What does that mean? What does one way dual language mean?

Unknown Speaker 8:42
So within by within bilingual education in Texas, there are various models, one of the two of the more common models that are used are one way and do they’re called one way or two way dual language. So with one way you have students that are only transitioning one way, language way, so all of the children share a common native language, and they’re all transitioning to a common set language to is how they would refer to it. So all of my kids are native Spanish speakers, and they’re all transitioning into English. Whereas if it was a two way dual language classroom, you would have students that are native English speakers mixed in with native Spanish speakers, with the idea being that as the native English speakers pick up Spanish and the native Spanish speakers pick up English, they’ll kind of be like, a mutually helpful model kind of thing.

Unknown Speaker 9:45
At some point, they’ll sort of cross in the middle and kind of meet

Unknown Speaker 9:48
Yeah, and it can be like, and there’s a lot of, like, societal benefits of like, both kids get to be experts in the language like there’s a lot of different Like psychology behind it, I’ve actually never taught in a two way Dual Language Program. In my years I have taught in a early exit program, which is where they exit the children out of their native language. So in my case, Spanish for my students, they exit them out of Spanish as early as possible, with the idea being to acquire English as soon as possible. So when I taught in another district prior to the one that I’m in currently, I taught second grade. And all of my students were, again, native Spanish speakers, but they were in my classroom expected to speak pretty much primarily only in English, with the idea of they needed to be prepped in English for third grade.

Unknown Speaker 10:54
Gotcha, that makes sense. That makes sense. I actually one of our friends just enrolled her, she lives in California, she just enrolled her son in a dual language immersion program for kindergarten. So this has been like, that kind of program has sort of been front of mind for me the last couple of weeks as she’s been trying to get them enrolled. So I’m always very fascinated by that. I think those are I think those programs are awesome. So the school year is almost over, probably thinking thank God,

Unknown Speaker 11:33
counting the days I think roughly 17

Unknown Speaker 11:37
certainly not you. So how is it going for you.

Unknown Speaker 11:41
Um, I mean, I always say, I love this job. And I hate this job in the same breath that it can take. Um, but for the most part, no matter how much I complain, I choose to sign my contract, and I come back every year. And the good outweighs the bad. And I’m so happy to be here. And right now, it’s amazing to actually be with students, because last year, we were kind of robbed of this, they kind of came in Texas, it came with like a big hit, that we left Friday for spring break, and we never came back to school. Right that like exactly like that, like your pencils were left in your desk, like your haften worksheet was left there, it was kind of like Vesuvius erupted. And we were the pop pay of like school, everything was actually frozen in time, it was very odd, um, teachers were given maybe an hour, depending on your campus, 10 minutes, depending on your campus, to basically supermarket sweep you ran in, you got anything you thought you might need for what we didn’t know what we were going to do. And then you run out. And the reason why I say that it’s so nice to be with students is because this is where we really get to start to see the fruits of our labor. Like we’ve been working all year, the students have been working all year. And this is really where you like, you know them so well, because you spend so much time together, they’re using the strategies y’all practice all year, they’re doing so much that you can really like you really see that growth. And it’s almost kind of like we were robbed the final weigh in, in a way last year. And so it’s really nice to have this time with them. And I’m so proud of the progress that I’m seeing. And we’re already starting their end of year testing. So yeah, so

Unknown Speaker 13:41
are you a teaching in the school or remotely? Or is it a mix of both? What are your days like?

Unknown Speaker 13:50
I am, I am the only teacher that is bilingual on my grade level. So I because of the fact that I am a singleton. I am I have been doing hybrid teaching the entire year. At the beginning of the year, my school district had everybody virtual. And then after, I want to say like right around the beginning, like middle of September, like right around September 13, I want to say they allowed the first wave of students to come in, and they kind of prioritize students that were at risk. students that were labeled a special education and can’t remember the other qualifier, but it was like if you wanted to send your kids back, well open up our building to 25% capacity of students prioritizing the ones that most need it. So at that time, I had six students come back in person learning, which left me with at the time and with that 22 so I’m actually so tired. I can’t do that math right now, I promise. So I’m 22 take Way six, how many we had? online? So I’m really gonna do that math. That’s 16. You 16 on line six in person. Is that 22? I think so.

Unknown Speaker 15:12
You’re asking the wrong people. We’re language people, not math. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 15:14
So anyway, so like, that was the first call, they do quarters. So that was our first nine week, quarter. And then by our second nine week, quarter, which was like starting roughly around, I want to say November ish, like after Thanksgiving, maybe that’s one a second wave of students that if you chose to send them back, now, we would allow them up to 50% capacity. So more students could come back. And then it was anybody that wants to come back, I’m pretty sure. So then I basically went from six to 10. To I want to say, 14, and now I’m at 17, ending the year in person with seven virtual, I have 24 students all together. My day, what that looks like, is a delicate balance of doing zooms. So I have three of three scheduled zooms that I do for all students that are at home learners. And I do those, the first one is usually is almost exclusively just for the at home learners. And the other two, I project my screen, I’ll do like a weird balancing act of like, projecting my screen onto my main projector in the classroom. So then whatever the kids on line on zoom can see on my computer, the kids in my classroom or seeing on like our giant whiteboard, and then I kind of just volley back and forth between teaching the same lesson, currently to students that are at home and in person. So I do like a hybrid, where seven of my kids are online, the rest of them are staring at the board. And I’m talking lifetime, asking questions like seeing who’s raising her hand, fielding responses from both children at the same time. The only time that I work exclusively with my virtual students are in the first zoom of the day when we kind of do like a morning meeting check in. And then I’ve also been doing like different intervention groups and reading groups at times throughout the year. With the kids that need that for extra support at home, too. So that doesn’t involve my other 17. In person. Kids.

Unknown Speaker 17:41
That’s, that’s a lot yet.

Unknown Speaker 17:45
No, sorry. I was talking a lot. But yeah, it’s a lot of juggling.

Unknown Speaker 17:50
Yeah, that is that is a lot. It’s a lot for one person to do. Like that is teachers already have, like, basically two full time jobs. And you just basically doubled that amount of work for yourself.

Unknown Speaker 18:08
Yeah, I’m, I mean, it is I’m not going to lie. And it is very hard to feel like I can do my absolute best job for everybody. When it’s, you’re being stretched so thin. Like I kind of think that everybody, without necessarily like verbally acknowledging it has kind of been like, we’re going to do best practices as much as we can. And we’re going to make sure that everybody is learning something. And we are going to keep kids safe. And we’re going to keep them happy, because it’s still a pandemic. So I’m just choosing what you’re prioritizing is much like, have I had my most engaging hands on lessons every single day like I maybe would have had in past years. No, but I’m also trying to keep 17 children independently working while welcoming seven children virtually online while saying yes, you can go to the restroom, and then fielding a walk in from my principal. There’s a lot of Mary Poppins going on.

Unknown Speaker 19:22
Right? Well, it makes me think of you know, I think that one of the most poignant, like, metaphors that has, I’ve seen talked about this this past year, and I’ve seen this talked about, you know, it’s like, okay, we’re juggling, we’re all juggling things. But like, I think it especially in the last year, I’ve seen it more talked about like, yes, we’re all juggling a lot of things. We all have a lot of balls in the air. But the in the last year we’ve had to sort of acknowledge which balls are glass, so we cannot drop them versus which ones are you know, like a tennis ball, you can drop it, it’s gonna come back up. If you drop it, it’s not that big of a deal, like the world’s not gonna end like and that is what what you just described is what that sounds exactly like to me of Yeah. Okay, what is what is so critical that I can not let that drop versus? Where are the things that like, if I let up on that, it’s gonna be okay. Yep. So, you know, I mean, a lot. I have heard you mentioned many things that seem like a challenge here as we’ve been talking, but what would you say has just sort of been the biggest challenge for you as a teacher in this last year?

Unknown Speaker 20:46
I would say that my biggest challenge is probably feeling like a sense of helplessness in some ways, um, more so than ever before. Because I can only kind of acknowledging that you can only do so much, right? So there’s a lot of worry for your virtual students, but you can’t go to their house and hold the pen and hold the pencil correctly for them. You can’t have that immediate turn around, on reflecting on reflection and this. And also, like, there’s only so many times that I can text, a family and say, Hi, they’re not doing this, like this is what I’m seeing, will you please have them sign on to zoom for an extra reading lesson. And if they don’t come, I can’t do anything. There’s no skipping intervention. When you’re at school. There’s no skipping your reading group. Like I feel like I, I it’s been hard to not have like full control in a way of everybody’s learning, because there’s certain times when it’s just not up to you. And that’s been kind of a hard transition in a way. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 22:02
I also I have a couple of teacher friends that work in like lower income areas, and their students, they I know that they spend a lot of time just worrying just about their students, just in general all the time anyway, ever in an or in a, quote, normal year. But in the last year, like that concern for their students and how their families are managing and juggling, you know, if their kids have to be virtual, and that they have to go to work, and what’s the childcare situation like and like all of those things. I know that those concerns have just skyrocketed for them and added so much extra stress and because teachers you care about your students is why you teach.

Unknown Speaker 22:50
Absolutely. And then other than that, aside from that, I would say another challenge is just keeping everybody engaged and entertained. I mean, I don’t know how many I’m sure many people can relate to when you’re doing something important. And you say, okay, kids, I’m not available right now. I’m doing this. And they go, Oh, of course. And then 10 seconds later. Hi, I want to show you what I did. Hi, can I do this? I can. And so it’s hard to give undivided attention sometimes to the virtual learners, because there’s nobody covering your class, right? You’re expected to manage your in person, kids, and your virtual kids. I’m not going to another room to give these virtual lessons. I’m not having somebody come in and cover my class, so that I can go do these like they’re happening concurrently. So I’m shooting like evil eyes at the kids that you see, like kind of playing, for example, but you can’t get up and go chastise me or redirect them because I’m supposed to be focused. Sorry, Brenda, what did you just say? kind of thing. So just, I mean, if I just had an ask, anytime that I have an extra set of hands in the room or an extra set of eyes, I am so thankful. So

Unknown Speaker 24:15
yeah, I think so where’s our school? We had the choice like a long time ago, but we we didn’t get to change over and mid semester. So we’ve been virtual the whole time. And I know is my second graders teacher is just tired from watching all of those screens and making sure every kid is paying attention, making sure they’re not like hiding under their bed. And she’s lucky in a way to have everybody remote and I can’t even imagine trying to manage both sets of kids at the same time.

Unknown Speaker 24:52
I feel like if I had just had to be remote all year, I could have been successful. If I was just doing in person all year, I could have been successful. But it’s almost like, every time you kind of started to get into a rhythm, something change, and they cut your legs out from under you, like just when you’re falling into a rhythm, then it’s like more kids come back in. And they don’t know the routines, or they haven’t been like, this is the first time they’re being in school since last March. But then there’s kids, it’s like, we have four first days of school almost in a way.

Unknown Speaker 25:29
Yeah, I saw a lot of people were sending their kids back after spring break. And I was like, why they haven’t been in all year, you’re just going to disrupt their learning. And I felt so bad for all the teachers that were involved in that situation.

Unknown Speaker 25:44
I mean, I welcome that I welcome it, you know, like, you’re, of course, you’re always happy, but it’s just, it’s just, yeah, change, you know, so.

Unknown Speaker 25:55
So how have your students been doing?

Unknown Speaker 25:58
I am beyond impressed with my students. They are the most resilient, clever, engaging, awesome children. Absolutely ever. I’m, I’m so they’re awesome. But then there’s the kids where school isn’t necessarily their favorite thing to do all the time. And so motivating them to learn when they’re virtual has been a little bit more challenging, I would say. So some of the kids where you really have to do the full dog and pony show when you’re in person. And they’re virtual now, it’s like, Yes, okay, let me try and be more engaging than every single distraction that is all around them. Okay, I can do this. Um, but for the most part, they’re so sweet and loving. And my first group that had to come back, I want to say an early, I think it was mid September, I said, they were so ready for school, and they were so ready to be safe. Um, they knew all about wearing their masks, they knew to wash their hands, they knew that there was no touching. And nobody complained about it once, they were just so excited and happy to be back in a school. The other we told them that they had the choice at recess that if they needed to have a mask break, is what we would say, then you need to be very far away from the rest of your friends and you cannot play, you need to go like far under the playground very far away from everybody. Take your mask off, like take your breath, hang out. And then when you’re ready to come back and be with your friends, you need to put your mask back on. Not a single child ever chose to be by themselves. So they cannot wear a mask. They would rather wear a mask and play with their friends than not wear a mask and be by themselves.

Unknown Speaker 28:07
Plus their hearts.

Unknown Speaker 28:09
That’s just the thing, like and the kids are still so much kids. Like it got it became kind of funny because I forget that it’s not a real school year, because you kind of everything starts to feel really normal when you’re back in school every day again. And then you’re like, Oh, yeah, but I guess there are still people that are working from home or like, Oh, yeah, I guess we are wearing masks like, that’s interesting. And this is like a weird like side anecdote. It’s really weird. Now if you see them without their mask, like you see their whole face. How I don’t recognize you. Like how I imagined they look just based off of like their bone structure and their eyes, changes with their face, like when you see their whole face. And my favorite thing about teaching this grade level where they’re fixed turning seven is all the different like configuration, the Bluth teeth. have their windows. They’re like front tooth windows. Normally, like I would have commented on that we would have talked about it. Oh my gosh, you lost a new tooth over the weekend like, and I haven’t seen it. And so we were I saw one day and it’s like, well, you don’t have two front teeth. And he’s like, Yeah, no, and I was like, I never knew.

Unknown Speaker 29:32
Yeah, catch up.

Unknown Speaker 29:35
Yeah, I haven’t had these teeth in like a month. Like, what are you talking about? I’m just and I would have never missed that. You know, right. So there’s man. There’s normal and there’s different skill?

Unknown Speaker 29:48
Yeah. Yeah, I’ve been I’ve been really impressed with just how kids have handled mass squaring. You know, I know when the school year started, and I saw so many parents on social media like losing their mind about their kids having to wear masks and just throwing absolute fits about it, and then I saw, like my friends, kids, and how they like actually, like, we’re totally cool with wearing their masks and like, they enjoy picking out fun masks, and, you know, getting to getting to pick ones with their favorite, you know, characters on them or in their favorite color is or like things like that. And so, which is like one of those things where I think like when you as a parent can like model something in a positive way. Like, it totally changes how your kids approach it. But which, I mean, I wish that wearing a mask did not have to be this new normal for our kids. But I’ve been very impressed with you know, though, especially those younger children, and how they like have just been like, Okay, I gotta wear this mask. Okay, cool. I’m like, can we can we get a lesson here for some adults.

Unknown Speaker 31:03
And honestly, there was 1 million teacher means and YouTube means this and that joking. Like, the kids are gonna go crazy with their math, there’s going to be the nose picker, there’s going to be the blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I will honestly say, I mean, the biggest thing that I will ever have to say to kids is just over your nose, please. And that’s it. And in terms of like being uncomfortable with the math, the only time that they really ever complain about wanting a new mask is when they come in from recess and they’re super sweaty. And I mean, like think about as an adult, you wouldn’t want a sweaty wet paper mask on your face either. So I we have extras the school district has been pretty, pretty good about supplying like as many masks as we need. We’ve had teachers like so mask for kids as well. And they know like you go out into the hall, you take your mask off, you put your new one on quick, quick, the whip, and you come right back in. So there’s a lot of routines that the kids know. And we’re really lucky to the tiles and on the floor and my school there the purple tile, like every six feet. So you can just say like stand on a purple square. And that was like just really dumb. Really easy visual for the kids. So yeah. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 32:27
I mean, like I said, I wish our kids didn’t have to get used to all of this stuff. But you know, and and kids, you know, I think we talk about it a lot about how resilient kids are. And and sometimes it’s resilience and sometimes they’re just trying to survive, but man I’ve been really impressed with with the kids over this last year. Just even. You know, my my little one is she’s only one. But I’ve been so impressed with all my friends, kids, my nieces and nephews. And they’re, they’re rock stars. Yeah. So you teach bilingual kids? Yes, there been a different set of challenges for them that you’ve seen versus your colleagues who do not teach bilingual kids.

Unknown Speaker 33:15
Um, so not just because I teach bilingual kids, but also because I teach in a title one campus. So um, the majority of my children do qualify for free and reduced lunch. And I think that they would like, they do qualify as low income according to whatever standard by the government. Um, so I will, but and maybe this is also doing due to being bilingual. There is a technology, black hole, completely divorced, from the way that people are living their lives and the way that school districts I imagine people are living their lives in this community. I’m one of the biggest. So number one, not all of my kids have internet. Not all my kids have computers. The district was pretty good about providing computers to all of the kids that needed it. And that was awesome. Um, but then not all the kids had internet. So then what do you do? Some of the kids were signing on to zoom on their parents phone. But then what happens if their brother has a zoom at the same time? They’re both sharing the phone. I mean, they were saying that you could go to this school parking lots of hot spots. But imagine like how are you going to have a meaningful zoom in a car or in a parking lot when it’s still August in Texas?

Unknown Speaker 34:48
So that that makes the assumption that they can get to the school parking lot?

Unknown Speaker 34:54
Yeah. So I mean, or the library parking lot or like public areas that had Wi Fi like, full floating in the air, but there was a lot, there were a lot of kids that did not have internet, starting the school year, and they did not have devices, and they did not have zoom. And then the other thing is that they have parents that don’t live their lives using technology all of the time. So, so much of our time and energy, the first couple of weeks of school, not just the bilingual parents, but I would say a lot of bilingual parents needed a ton of tech support. And then you needed to provide that tech support in their language, and explain it to them in a way that they can understand. So I mean, I would be on the phone, okay, when you get off work seven o’clock, okay, when you get off work at seven o’clock, video, chat me on my personal phone, and I’m going to show you how to log into your child seesaw, because they care. Just because they don’t understand how to get into it, sometimes doesn’t mean that they don’t want to there say, oh, my goodness, my nest, I know, it’s been five days of school, and I’m trying to log in, but I don’t know what to do, can you help, you have to help, you know, they’re trying the best. So you have to be flexible, and do your best to help. But there is a lot to be learned between the technology aspect of it. And then the other frustrating thing to me is that I think that a lot of the powers that be that run the district, kind of were like you’re going to do it our way. And so this, so they sent out a survey to parents saying, Do you are you going Would you like to send your kid back in person, or stay virtual. But here’s the thing, they sent it to a parent portal, where you have to make an account, set up a username and a password, and then login, and then set up the account and then check the email. Are you kidding me? I had to literally teach a mom how to make the app symbol by pushing shift and two at the same time. That was a that was one of the tech support questions that I had. And they want people to go and they want parents that don’t have this comfortability to go in, create a username and a password. And to be able to do this, that and I was like, you know what they should have done, print the survey and mail it to people. If you really cared, that’s what you would want, that’s what you would have done. But of course, they don’t. So whose shoulders gonna fall on to, to call all the parents that never responded to the survey? The teachers. So this is a we’re getting ready to go back to school, teachers, please stop. The secretaries sending you a list of all students that have not responded to the email, we need you to call and reach out to all parents, by the end of the day to confirm there will be in person or virtual learners. Why is this our job? Why did you guys not try and do everything you can to get in touch with them? And I can call them? You can call them?

Unknown Speaker 38:21
Right? And why is it your job to be providing, you know, the bilingual tech support and like,

Unknown Speaker 38:27
and it’s just to me like a lack of awareness? Like, what do you like? What would What was your plan for one day Don’t create this username and password account? Because that’s the thing like as a teacher, we are expected to do everything to reach everyone. Right? I have to think if, if Sally isn’t going to be able to create a username and password, how am I going to get this information to Sally, it would never be acceptable to just say up didn’t create a username and password? Can’t do it. Sally? No, I would have to find a way for Sally to provide that information yet. I feel like sometimes they don’t. They don’t care enough to find it. They’re like, Oh, well, we put it in Spanish. Yeah, at the bottom of a three page email. That is again, like written in like very high level Spanish maybe we don’t like some parents don’t necessarily have like a college degree equivalent from their countries. You know, like there’s just got to be like a lot of potholes, especially with technology that things have like fallen through that have made it difficult outside of just a regular teaching year.

Unknown Speaker 39:45
I mean, even those emails in English when we before we moves and I was trying to read them and understand them and they’re all of the Facebook groups for my kids classes were like, I don’t understand what this even says. What what are they proposing? What are they trying We can’t understand in English, how do they expect people to understand in any other language as well, like and

Unknown Speaker 40:05
with a college degree, like you’re highly. Like,

Unknown Speaker 40:11
they’re just writing it in such a way that it’s almost like, like a lawyer wrote it, you’re not meant to understand it.

Unknown Speaker 40:18
Yeah, they’re so out of touch with the people that they’re supposed to be serving.

Unknown Speaker 40:24
Absolutely. And so much of like elementary school is like, if you don’t have the parents buy in, you’re not going to be able to do anything. And so of course, like, what I do, is that I am really used to having people that don’t know technology, because my mom doesn’t know the difference between a computer and a palm tree. And I said, You know what, guys, here is my personal cell phone number. Text me a picture of your kid reading a book. And I will count that as their presence as being present today. Here’s what I want them to do. So I would film like an abbreviated zoom on my phone, and then text the video to the parents. And when they got off work, they would play the video for the kid, the kid would do the assignment, they would take a picture of it with their cell phone, and then texted back to me. And that’s how we did school for about three weeks for at least three kids in my class. And then, you know, you step from there, like, okay, you did get a computer from school. Awesome. So now you need help setting it up, okay. Okay, now, you’re still waiting on internet. But for those kids who have parents that work all day, and their babysitter is 75 years old, and she lives next door. And they don’t have internet, nor does she. That’s what it was. And like, and then I mean, sometimes it’s hilarious. I had one kid who’s both of his parents worked full time, but he had grandma would watch him. And so I think that it was hard to learn because you know, a grandma. But before mom would go to work for the day, she would drop off, drop off little Johnny at Grandma’s, and then sang gramma into the zoom meeting for me. And then I would let them in. And they would just turn the screen. So it faced a bookshelf until it was time for Johnny to be on zoom. And then Johnny would be on zoom to turn the and then it will finish and they will just turn it there. They would not sign out of the meeting to save their life. They stayed in that meeting from 730 until like three by just turning it to the bookshelf. But it’s not zoom time. And back to like the table when it is zoomed time. But there was no way they were going to touch what was working besides dirt. It was like a parakeet like a bird cage. I mean, I

Unknown Speaker 43:13
don’t blame them. I there are times when I’m like okay, I got on I did the thing. I don’t want to touch anything, because I might screw it up like I’ve been there. Yeah, I Oh, my goodness, I can’t. I can’t imagine just you as the teacher having to juggle all of that. And you know those. And you also know like, you’re working with little kids. But I have to imagine at some point those little kids are also being a little bit of tech support for their parents

Unknown Speaker 43:45
like oh, yeah,

Unknown Speaker 43:46
I they’re shouldering a little bit of that burden, too.

Unknown Speaker 43:49
Yeah, I talked to sisters, cousin, middle school brothers, babysitters, grandparents, I mean, you name somebody who cares about a child and I probably talked to that person in the first three weeks of school. Absolutely. Yeah. So, I mean, that’s, and that has been, I would definitely say, more of an aspect of this your teaching because of how it is, is that like, you cannot get out of having parents involved this year. It’s not a choice. Like there’s no way to avoid it. Because you’re not going to be you can’t do anything without talking to them. You have to schedule when they’re going to sign on to exam. You have to have a number that works. There’s a lot going on.

Unknown Speaker 44:35
Yeah. So do you view teaching differently as a result of this past year and two months?

Unknown Speaker 44:43
Yes, I view it much more than I ever did. And the partnership between parents and teachers. I definitely 1,000% feel like I am more collaborative with parents and that I communicate with them way more than I would if it had been a normal school. The year 1,000%.

Unknown Speaker 45:03
So do you think moving when we are all back in the classroom? Eventually, I assume next fall? Yeah, I think that you will kind of try to continue that level of participation with them.

Unknown Speaker 45:18
I think that I will, um, I will say that, like, none of the parents have really abused having my personal number. Um, and I was like, a little bit nervous, I wouldn’t have done that, like, normally, prior to pandemic times, I would normally just communicate with like, one of the educational apps out there, you have class dojo, you have this, you have that. But there’s a simplicity in it. And it’s, I mean, I almost always have my cell phone with me. And if something happened at recess, I can snap a picture and say, Sally scraped their knee, just want to show you, hey, snapping a picture, look at that picture really fast. And she having an allergic reaction, the nurse noticed it, like the immediate feedback, because everybody has their phone on them nowadays. And even like, anybody knows how to text message. Now, that is one thing that everybody knows how to do. So I definitely will be trying to do more of that.

Unknown Speaker 46:27
So moving forward, pandemic times are not what can parents and others in the school community do to better support teachers?

Unknown Speaker 46:39
Buy them coffee. Every now and again, one before the depreciation week, just get get Starbucks gift card will go a long way in saying, Hey, I know it’s tough. Um, other things that I would say that to support teachers, a lot of it goes to admin and saying, like, you need to check your expectation of what is going on this year. So not all of that falls on the parents, I really wouldn’t complaint like, of all of the things that have been going on this year. Very few of them, I would say is because I don’t feel supported by the families in my in my classroom at all. I mean, I would say vote, vote for people that value teachers vote for legislation that is going to pay teachers adequately, so that they don’t have to have second jobs and work and be stressed and then come to school exhausted. And as parents and people in the community, use your agency to make teachers lives better, but like, as individual parents and a microcosm, you know, raise your kids, like, keeps them to be polite, and kind and patient. Cuz you know, those are life skills that help in the classroom. But I wouldn’t complain, I don’t really have a complaint to say like, Oh, I wish my parents were doing this more, I would say, I just I wish the whole society was doing this more fund education more so that I could have an extra person in my classroom, when I’m doing hybrid teaching. Right now, it would be something you know, so I think paying attention and voting in favor of public education as a way to support teachers. Well,

Unknown Speaker 48:29
we love voting. So our listeners know how much we love voting. And that especially, you know, not just on a national level, but on a state and local level that those policies can and the people that you vote for, can make a really big difference. So I think that’s a great reminder that it goes beyond just like the policies that affect you in your home. But there are policies that affect your kids at school and

Unknown Speaker 48:57
the teacher. Yeah, we’re.

Unknown Speaker 49:00
Yeah. Yeah. I love that reminder.

Unknown Speaker 49:03
And it is, it’s actually it is Teacher Appreciation Week, as we record this was Yeah, but it’s always a good time to think a teacher, even if your teacher anymore.

Unknown Speaker 49:17
I would also remind listeners that many teachers pay for supplies for their classroom out of their pocket. And so I know that my teacher friends never, you know, never turned down Target gift cards or, you know, extra supplies for their classroom that they have not had to pay for out of their own pocket. So I know that that’s always something that they have appreciated as well. So there’s lots of ways that you can love on the teachers in your lives, whether they’re your kids, teachers or your friends or your family members. Lots of ways you can live on them beyond Teacher Appreciation Week,

Unknown Speaker 49:57
y’all. Yeah, and next year. If we are allowed to have people be in schools, again, that aren’t just teachers, volunteer in your local school, even if you don’t have a kid there, if you want to volunteer to read a story in a classroom or to test kids on their sight words, teachers always usually need somebody to help in the classroom. Cutting out laminate doing things like that, like telling a teacher a back to school night, hey, I can’t volunteer in the classroom because I’m raised because I’m at home with my little one. But if you send this home, I would be happy to cut it out with for you. Just knowing that you have a parent that’s like, I’ll cut out this is amazing. Cuz little things like that take up time. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 50:49
Okay, guys, you heard her. There are many ways that you know, some are financial, but lots and lots of ways that you do not have to give any money. And you can support teachers, whether it’s your time, whether it is with your vote, lots of ways we can support our educators. So this is your call to action, figure out what you’re going to do this upcoming school year, and do a little bit of something for our teachers. Well, Mareka, thank you so much for joining us. This was such a great episode. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us in this last year. And I can just tell from talking to you, how much you love your students, and how much you love their parents and the passion that you put into your job and that you don’t just think it is a job, but I can tell that it’s something that you truly love. So thank you, not just for being here, but for also being a loving teacher to your students. Oh, thank you so

Unknown Speaker 51:51

Unknown Speaker 51:52
So let’s wrap up with our joy for the week. What is bringing you joy Mari.

Unknown Speaker 52:00
The weather has taken a beautiful turn right now. And often we had some rainy days, and the son has been out to play. So I’m enjoying outside recess this week with the kids that has been awesome. It’s a fun time to have some conversations that you don’t normally get to have and seeing the kids run and play and even Patric me that air too. So it’s really bring me joy that I get to get outside today this week for a reset. That’s been a big smile on my face.

Unknown Speaker 52:31
I love that. I love that.

Unknown Speaker 52:34
Stephie What about you?

Unknown Speaker 52:36
So over the last weekend, we got to go over to see my grandmother and my aunt, my uncle and we haven’t gotten to see them in over a year since Eden was like three weeks old. So just like a couple of weeks before the pandemic hit. And so it was really nice to see them again. And to spend the weekend there. They live out sort of in the middle of nowhere on a bunch of property. They’ve got some farmland that they have somebody farm for them and then they have these woods that back up to their house and Alex loves if if anyone is familiar with morels and mushroom hunting, it is Morel season around here. And so Alex got to go spend a couple hours just being like nature man out in the woods, mushroom hunting, which he absolutely loved. And he found a probably a couple pounds of morels, which was amazing. They’re so delicious. And so yeah, it was just really nice to spend time with family that we haven’t seen in a while and for them to see eaten. Now that she’s you know, not just like a little sleeping blob all of the time. So yeah, it was that was a really a really special weekend.

Unknown Speaker 53:56
That’s awesome. I might actually get to see my brother this weekend. I haven’t seen him in way more than a year. I don’t even know how long it’s been since I’ve seen him. So it’s exciting to have like, visits with actual human family and the same people that you’ve seen no offense Stephie

Unknown Speaker 54:15
I love to say I love but it is nice to see family that I haven’t seen in a long time. So Megan, what’s bringing you joy?

Unknown Speaker 54:24
Um, I finally got my raspberry plants that I ordered back in, I guess maybe February I ordered them the place I ordered them from they send them when it’s like the exact right time for you to plant them for your zone. And they came today and I’m very excited to get them in the ground tomorrow. And then hopefully have raspberries later on this season.

Unknown Speaker 54:55
And you got you got regular and black raspberries, right? Yes, I

Unknown Speaker 54:58
got regular raspberry And black raspberries. I’m very excited. And then I read all about growing raspberries. And I was like, Oh, I don’t know if I have enough room for all.

Unknown Speaker 55:09
They do see me grow a lot, but

Unknown Speaker 55:12
you are supposed to prune them No. So it will be okay. We also put together some raised beds and put some dirt in them, and I’ll be planting more stuff in them. Right. There’s nothing planted them right now. But I’ve been hardening off my transplants that I grew from seed. And all the peonies that lie in the side of my sidewalk are growing very tall, and they have bugs on them. And I’m very excited for them to bloom. So it’s basically all about the garden here.

Unknown Speaker 55:49
Yeah, because you don’t know. We don’t know what color

Unknown Speaker 55:51
the peonies I don’t know what color there I am on pins and needles. I’m gonna be a good color.

Unknown Speaker 55:57
I’m guessing there’ll be a lot of pink and white, but they might you might throw us for a loop. There might be some really cool ones on there. So

Unknown Speaker 56:04
I know there’s a lot

Unknown Speaker 56:05
there’s a lot of I was telling my son My grandmother used to be a master gardener until she quit being a Master Gardener because and I quote all those old ladies were really annoying. The Can you just

Unknown Speaker 56:17
can easily quit being a master gardener. Yes.

Unknown Speaker 56:20
She decided she didn’t like it because all of the old ladies who sidebar were younger than her. It’s fine. But she she loves being out in her yard and piddling around in her yard. And so I was actually telling her about all of your peonies and that we were very excited to see what colors they were going to be and she was very excited about this for you. So

Unknown Speaker 56:41
I will be sure to have you keep her posted. I will absolutely let her know what is what. My dad also just went to Michigan for the tulip festival. night and he bought me 70 tulip bulbs. Oh, two plants in the fall, I guess. I think they order them and then they are going to be delivered to me in the fall. I’m not quite sure something. That’s exactly, yes. He sent me pictures in there. Lots of beautiful ones in the collection. So

Unknown Speaker 57:12
I love that.

Unknown Speaker 57:14
I love it. I love it. It’s so nice to like I married and you grew up in Michigan, you know all about like Midwest spring is like the most perfect time. Oh, everything popping. And this is bringing so much happiness right now.

Unknown Speaker 57:30
And I mean unpopular opinion is that Texas doesn’t have spring. But I love and I will stay fighting for the spring of Texas when the bluebonnets come out and start to get boiled. And it’s just fields of wild flowers everywhere. It’s a really pretty time in Texas for me to it’s not quite a Midwest spring or summer, but it definitely had the flower season down here. Yeah, I

Unknown Speaker 57:59
do you miss the wild flowers. But it feels so short because it the Blue Mountains pop up and then it’s automatically like 85 degrees every day. Yep, that’s about it.

Unknown Speaker 58:11
Like that.

Unknown Speaker 58:14
Well, next week, we are going to chat all about long distance friendships.

Unknown Speaker 58:18
We’ve talked about friendships before, but we’re going to talk about how this specific kind of friendship comes to comes with its own benefits and struggles. So in the meantime, leave us a review on Apple podcasts and listen to us on your favorite platform.

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