My Decision

January 2020 found the country I live in with a virus outbreak. Over the course of TWO WEEKS mass panic took over. I was on holiday break in Bali. I was not gonna give this issue much thought because I was in BALI. I was not gonna ruin my holiday stressing about what was going on.

However with 3 days left the situation escalated quickly. Emails from work were asking us to return as normally scheduled. Be back by February 3 and self quarantine. School will begin February 17. Stay outside of China or come back became the question I had to answer.
I looked at my bank funds FIRST how long could I really afford to stay out? What happens if I can’t get back into the country? What happens when the money runs out?
I don’t have a ‘home’ in the states. I would have to take myself and my child into other people’s homes until it is okay to return. But when will that be? I know family and friends would let me camp out with them but I HATE LIVING OUT A SUITCASE!!!!! I hate that displaced feeling.
I looked at my child who was slowly going stir-crazy in Bali in the heat. Go figure.

My flight was scheduled to leave 1:30 am January 31. I was to fly from Bali to Hong Kong. From Hong Kong to Shanghai. I was to take a private car from Shanghai to Hangzhou.

I packed enough for two weeks.

It’s crunch time.

I head to the airport.

I am still unsure of what to do.

I look at Elise. I look around me.

We head to the mall. We had LOADS of time to kill. Go to the mall. It rains. I buy two books. We have lunch. I still don’t know what to do. I grab some masks just in case. I look around and all I see are masks and Chinese folks. I’m aggravated just because I don’t know what to do.

Being an adult sucks.

Flight prices were slowing rising.

The city I live in is not highly effected. I can stay inside right?

I get in line to check in for our flight. MASKS EVERYWHERE!!!!!

A calm peace comes over me as I make a decision.

We board our plane.

We are safely back in China in our apartment. Anytime I leave my temperature is checked. I have to wear a mask. Deliveries are being left at the front gate with the guard.

I legit LIVE here. It’s not so simple to just pack up and leave your home. I gotta worry about a dog and a child. Stress cannot control me and my decisions.

I do not regret returning. I have things here I can catch up on that I have been putting off. I am not worried. I have not been contact with NOT ONE SOUL from Wuhan. I couldn’t even tell you where that place in relation to where I am.

SO please take a deep breath and relax. Stop watching the news. Check your sources before contacting me in a panic. I love you all. I am fine. Elise is fine. I came back for my sanity. I did not want to keep hopping countries. I did not want to keep checking in and out of hotels. I did not want to stress and worry my child or myself.

If the US evacuates my city I will get myself and my child on the flight out. Currently they have only evacuated ground zero.

The end of the first week finds my city on “lockdown”

Lockdown definition: an emergency measure or condition in which people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a restricted area or building (such as a school) during a threat of danger

Yeah I am not prevented from entering or leaving my apartment complex. They have restricted movement. Meaning I get a pick slip marking how many times I allowed to leave. On the 5th of February it was every two days by the 7th it was twice a week. Only places that are open are grocery stores. I can still order items online and have it delivered to the apartment building and as long as that is allowed, that is what I will do. If I do not need to go outside I won’t.

I send work home to my kids online. Elise completes her work online as well. Cabin fever has not set in yet.

The number of airlines no longer flying in and out of China is growing by the day. The number of countries that will allow me to visit coming from China is also growing by the day.

3 Weeks Later

So it’s been 3 weeks since I returned. Some people have left. Some have stayed. Some are returning. We have stayed put. The city is slowly coming back to life. They implemented a health code via QR code. Basically you answer a few questions and you either get a green, yellow or red QR code that let’s people know if you are healthy, at risk, or sick. If you are wondering the validity of this, there were a few cases of folks who lied and they were discovered. (I think this effects locals because of their ID and being connected to the system better than expats. However our passports get scanned as well when we enter and exit at the airport. The point is don’t think you aren’t being tracked) Any who I was gifted with a green QR code. This means I can enter and exit my apartment complex with no issues. Restaurants are open for delivery only. A few restaurants have opened for dine-in service. You still are required to wear a mask. Stores are slowly opening back up. People are outside walking around the apartment complex. School is still scheduled to re-open March 16 pending government approval and the logistics are figured out about how to return to school and keep everyone safe and healthy. It’s complex. We are still doing online learning. This comes with its own set of problems with slow internet speed when you have a billion people using the same platforms roughly at the same time.

We are relaxing working, watching TV, reading books, doing puzzles, cooking….you know trying not to be bored and go stir crazy. LOL

WEEK 6

School will not start on the 16th. No idea when school will reopen. We are now bored. Things are slowly re-opening with limited hours. The virus is now spreading across the world and things are getting downright ridiculous. I watch the news now even less than before . The numbers are dwindling in China so maybe life will be back to normal sometime in April.
Life will go on.

Online Teaching

Okay so I am going on a mini rant and an educational PD.

January 2020 found China faced with a rapidly spreading virus that will become known as the Coronavirus COVID-19. China literally shutdown and everyone was quarantined. It was a mess. Schools were closed and we as teachers were forced and thrown into this online/e-learning world.

Here is my issue I take with this: most schools are not prepared for this. Most teachers have no clue what this looks like. We live in a society where parents are ‘afraid’ of screen time because screen time at home looks a hot ass mess and they think it will apply to schools as well. So when school starts we are told to limit the amount of technology and screen time we use in class and our teaching.

Wait a minute it is the 21st century. Technology is all around us. These kids could probably operate technology in ways I didn’t even know about. Yet you are telling me to keep little Matt engaged and actively learning when all he knows is technology. Yeah okay.

I am a teacher. I am an educator. This means I have enough since, knowledge and wisdom to seek out ways to properly and effectively integrate technology into the classroom without it getting out of hand and it looking like a hot mess. I know how to implement technology to where it is an extension to learning and not a prize for learning. So I won’t turn on YouTube and let the video do the teaching. I won’t download zombies and aliens on the iPad and allow the to play this a reward. I won’t provide unlimited access to the laptop or Chromebook and not check to see what they are doing.

What technology in the classroom looks like: formal instruction.
One we are going over the ground rules. I am explaining how to properly handle the technology. I am explaining what you can and cannot do. I have set up so many teacher/parental controls, you are only allowed on what I say you are allowed. I am monitoring the usage. I am tracking the dates on the apps and websites. They are only on educational sites and apps. Teacher tested, student approved. It aligns with learning goals. It is developmentally appropriate. It is differentiated. I have formally taught a lesson and now I allow to show your learning and take responsibility.

What technology is not: turning on Youtube and letting someone else sing and teach your students. It is not handing over the iPad and say find your name or picture and “play” on the app. It is not opening the laptop/Chromebook and saying you can only access these websites.

We were thrown into online/e-learning at my school. We had not done anything that involved an iPad or laptop. My kids did not have the opportunity to experience learning with technology outside of YouTube, Starfall and ABCya. I had one student I was testing my personal iPad with.
So image telling my parents to download this app so your kid can still learn at home without your support. They were all for it in the beginning, now at week 6 going into week 7….I have about 5% of kids still completing work consistently.

My own child is doing e-learning and lord I am now teaching two grade levels. My personal class and her classes. One teacher has the brains to do a project while the rest are sending trash home as busy work.

With limited resources what can you really do? With the great firewall controlling everything you are limited to what you can actually send home that parents will have access to. I have access because I am a teacher and an expat. So I can help Elise but how can I help my kids? How can I help my kids who are learning a second language and parents are learning a second language as well. I got kids memorizing Eric Carle books to share during our video chats. I got parents telling kids what to say when they are recording themselves reading a decodable book. Not one of my parents are educator to know how to properly assist and support their child at home.

Week 7 will find us adjusting things AGAIN. The parents want this. The parents want that. What about what is best for the kids? What about what is effective learning for the kids? I can upload all the videos in the world but when the great firewall is causing the internet to be slow and when you are limited to what parents actually can access, it becomes frustrating. I can’t have everything translated because that defeats the purpose.

I am frustrated and jealous. I am jealous of those that got time to prep and plan for e-learning. I am jealous of those who will have a smooth transition because they were already implementing things inside the classroom and parents understood what was going on and the students were involved with the technology. I am jealous of those not controlled by the great firewall and can access all the educational websites. This jealously is why I am frustrated because I am not feeling very effective right now. I am frustrated because I am trying but students and parents are not participating.

Something has got to give with the state of education. Project based learning and inquiry units need to become a real thing. Technology needs to be integrated and implemented properly to where it is an extension to learning. Teachers need to be trusted to do their jobs. Parents gotta step up and support and stop complaining. Schools will never look like it did when we were in school. It is time to shift into the 21st century. We are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet. We are preparing students to think outside the box, problem solve, and critically think. Yet our classrooms are boxes and lack creativity. Teachers are given boxed curriculums. Limited supplies and resources. Sites like teacherspayteachers should not exist if we are honest with ourselves. Adopt-a-classroom and donors choose should not exist. If we truly valued education we would invest in education and provide unlimited resources to our schools and teachers. We won’t even touch that $250 tax credit. We spend that much in about a week. Professional development needs to improve and go beyond the box and the norm. We cannot expect our kids to rise above when we keep cutting the resources and materials to help them rise above. People who have no educational experience and knowledge and degrees should not be making education decisions. Just because you can read and write does not mean you should be a teacher. We have got to stand up and say enough is enough and take our profession back. The world is at stake. You want digital learners, you gotta provide the technology to allow it. Trust that teachers will not allow it take over the classroom. We know what we are doing and we know how to seek out the support when we don’t.