coronaviruschronicles, mental health, teaching

Special Education in the Time of COVID

I am not a special education teacher. I used to teach university students for four years. I taught animation, drawing, Photoshop, Macromedia Flash, Autodesk Maya, and even screenplay writing for animation. The best thing about skills-based courses is that students often gravitate towards them because they know what they want and what they are capable of. The only problem you may have would be the usual lazy bunch or the ones who are online shopping during classes. The classes are in computer labs. Everyone has a workstation. I also prepared online modules for about two years and wrote English tests for Korean pilots for about a year.

I have been teaching second-grade for six years now, though. So, it is what I am the most comfortable with at the moment. Again, I am not a special education teacher but my interest in this line of work was piqued last year when I had a boy I suspected to have some sort of special needs. Mind you, he had not been officially diagnosed. However, he had very short attention span, flapped his hands about, and only did what he wanted to do. On the other hand, he was very smart and could read very well. I used to give him my calculator for comfort, and it kind of worked. Unfortunately, he had also labelled himself as “not smart,” which was heartbreaking.

This morning, I had asked our principal to allow me to attend a special education session. I knew that I would have a few slow readers. The greatest instance was last school year’s as the children went back to face-to-face session after more than a term at home. We are back to online classes this term, though, because of the recent surge in COVID cases (with Delta strain, as well). Therefore, I wanted to know how I could involve special needs children through the virtual teaching setting. There is no fixed solution for all children. A teacher must still discover a child’s quirks and needs. However, there were several resources recommended by the speaker that I truly appreciated:

Other resources given where similar to the ones recommended for children who need some form of audio-visual prompts to learn. Of course, application is going to be a lot rougher as we teachers will find ourselves almost plastered in front of the screen for more than half of the day. I got burned out the last time – as I got obsessive with producing engaging lessons, working from 5 am to 7 pm at times. I would try to do better this school year, especially now that I have so many freelance duties.

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coronaviruschronicles, teaching

Ways to Help Teacher Friends during COVID Lockdowns

So, instead of being on self-imposed lockdown today, I went to school in-person to help out fellow teachers go over the use of Google Classroom. I wore two surgical masks and a mottled shield. After I had sprayed it with alcohol, streaks and spots covered the whole thing but I still trudged on and walked to school in a haze.

It made me think. Teachers might be popular when some parents had a brilliant light bulb moment, but they often get the short end of the stick. It is worse now that I am a primary school teacher. When I was still teaching university students, I do not even get to meet the parents. My teenage students had to answer to their parents when they got terrible grades.

Anyway, here are some ways to help teacher friends during COVID lockdowns:

  • Check up on them. Are they okay? Let them open up if they got COVID but do not pry. Do not let them feel guilty by saying things like, “You could have been vaccinated” or “You could have been more careful!” Full disclosure: I am fully vaccinated and I am rarely out and about. My home is my ultimate shield.
  • Post things on social media about what you do. Some teachers are not oversharers like me. So, I make it a point to post that, hey all, teachers are working. I annoy my Facebook friends to death, I suspect, that nobody would comment about “No, you possibly could not be working that hard.” I wake up at 5 am and sleep at 11 pm. What about you, then? I work most of the time I am awake, too.
  • Help the non-tech savvy with one-on-one tutorials. Some do not want to slow down other teachers during group sessions. So, they just fret on their own.
  • Provide slides or videos for those who want to learn on their own. As an introvert, I know how awesome that feels – making all my mistakes without an audience.
  • Kind words and encouragements work well, too. Unfortunately, I doubt I should be sharing cookies and cakes at this point when people are weary about where your hands had been.
  • Plan lessons together, especially if suddenly all of you are working completely online instead of the usual face-to-face.
  • Wear your mask when talking to them in person. (I double mask!) You never know if you have been infected, or if they had been infected. Let us protect each other.
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coronaviruschronicles, personal, web content jobs

Just, today…

Tuesday: done with another 2000 words for the 10000 e-book (now at 4000/1000) I am working on for a client. Now, the client wants me to prioritize a different e-book, at 10,000 words, as well. He started writing that one himself, but could not finish. He is a nice guy, from what I am gleaning so far.
The other client is more predictable: It’s 2500 words a day, He just goes like “I need an article with 2500 words. Please confirm”. He is okay, though. Once he gave me a rush job and I got an alert while lining up for groceries. I told him the island is going on lock-down and that I needed to buy food. He was like, “Oh, there is no rush. Message me when you get home.”
The third client has not contacted me yet (she did say she will be getting back in a few days), but that is for the best. I am usually very dizzy by about this time, I just want to rest my fingers – but I am not done yet.
When online schooling resumes next week, my hours will go crazy. Yes, all hell will break loose! However, I like how it mimics normalcy. I just cannot handle Netflix at large doses, unless there is a proper series to watch right now. I have to watch Westworld via HBO Now. Shudder and Britbox are more promising at this point, but Netflix is more varied and also cheaper than HBO Now. I always thought I would overdose on movies and TV if I get a long break. Now that I do have a long break, I just long to go back to my classroom and argue with my second graders. I miss their hugs!
I also contacted three supermarkets accepting orders via Whats App, but it seems you will still end up getting exposed in crowds, anyway, when you pick up your groceries. I also do not live in town where the deliveries can reach. So, the best option is to leave the house right after curfew lifts (6:00 am-ish) to get some grocery shopping this week. I am also suspicious of prepackaged fruits and veggies. The overripe ones get hidden under the fresh ones.
Let us just call this the #coronaviruschronicles
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