After 13 months, high school teachers in Chicago Public Schools finally returned to our buildings this past week. It was a rather unique, tumultuous start, where we returned to our physical classrooms on Monday and Tuesday to teach remotely and set up our classrooms for hybrid (with some schools hosting SAT exams on Tuesday), but held a ‘work action’ Wednesday and Thursday where we taught remotely from home because we didn’t have an actual work agreement with the district. Who would have thought we would take a stand for a fair labor agreement by refusing to go into buildings, but continuing to work from home?
Negotiations between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union produced a tentative agreement by Thursday afternoon, so we again returned to our buildings on Friday for a professional development day (without students) that luckily was ‘teacher directed’ (contractually, this particular PD Day each year is 100% teacher’s choice, without principal input).
Such a weird experience to return to my classroom after the year we’ve had while continuing to teach virtually! I experienced a ton of anxiety Sunday night, but once the week went into motion Monday morning, I was really grateful to have that huge hurdle done with. Monday and Tuesday were this surreal mix of teaching virtually, like I’ve been doing all year, accept instead of from my office at home, I was in my classroom–which I hadn’t stepped foot in in a year. Very disconcerting, but not horrible. It was truly incredible to see my colleagues again–fellow teachers, security staff, deans, etc.–and be around peers again in person, but annoying to feel so restricted in my movement (going to the bathroom, eating, wearing a mask). And I missed Bleu and Zora.
My room seemed so abandoned when I first walked in.
However, with some elbow grease, I feel like it is back to being a welcoming environment.
We were able to at least shake out some of the kinks in this whole return to buildings (in the midst of continued spiking COVID numbers in so many of our Chicago school communities) and I feel ‘ok’ (not great, but ok) about students returning to schools next week for ‘hybrid learning’.
The high point of my week, though, was returning to the boathouse this morning. After 18 months, Recovery on Water (ROW) is headed back out on the water. We haven’t been out in our boats since October of 2019; however, today, the coaches, staff and coxswains all headed over to the boathouse to do some spring cleaning and test out our coaches boat launches in anticipation of both Masters and Novice squads going back out on the water the week of April 27th. So, so exciting!!!!!
Chilly day in Chicago, but we were back–and I got out on the water today. Can we say one very happy girl?