Let me just start be saying I am trying my best to wrap my head around what I need to do to get myself ready for the 20-21 school year. If you read my blog regularly you know I am very transparent about being a teacher that never wants to be in a rut or stale, so I welcome revamping my routines, outlook, approach and materials, but a pandemic is a tad bit different and difficult. This list is what I have been thinking about. I am sure as the weeks go by there will be even more things to to consider.
Being an itinerant teacher has it’s pros and cons. Traveling can be exhausting some days or completely liberating, but thinking about traveling lately has really made me stop and think about how I am going to protect myself and everyone in my multiple buildings. Going in and out will look and feel different for sure. My hope is with some thought and tweaking I will be able to do what I enjoy. With these adjustments and accommodations I think I will eventually settle into a new normal.
Depending on your set up, travel and caseload I think no matter how you think about putting materials together this year, everything needs to be seperate for each student. This will be work in the beginning, but once you have everything divided and contained it will offer you better control and peace of mind.
I know that at a couple of my schools I am able to leave materials. I love this because it saves time, pressure off my back and allows my kiddos to feel like I am part of the day… not just this woman that flies in and out. This being said, and I know I have said it in previous posts, leaving things can not be just one bin this year. I am going to have to have seperate containers or ways of keeping individual materials and tools safe for my students.
Seperate bags for seperate schools may be a healthy option if you can not leave materials and tools. I would consider bags that can be laundered or wiped down. Have one bag per building or per student. I had one bag per student maybe year two or three of itinerant teaching. I liked the ease of just grab and go, knowing everything I needed was in each bag.
Masks for a day. I know that going back will require wearing a mask. I have been stockpiling some cute fabric masks. I personally do not enjoy the disposable masks. They don’t fit right, which makes me anxious when I wear them, so fabric is my personal preference. I recommend trying out various sizes and styles before you head back to school in person.
I know clear panel masks are what most of us consider a great option for our students. Lip reading is essential. Make sure the mask fits, your can function and is anti-fog. I purchased shields for myself. I still waiting on the complete school plan about what will and will not be allowed. I am just trying to be prepared for my options.
The idea of materials for each student started to overwhelm me. Paper resources can obviously be per student, but what about my games and hands on manipulatives? I started to think of ways to divided up a game or deck of cards. I am with only one student at a time, so I obviously don’t need 30 riddle cards or 20 listening comprehension cards, so taking some and storing in little containers or zip bags will work. Germs will be separate. When I am ready to switch materials it should be easy to sanitize and rotate.
If you play games with boards putting some Press n Seal wrap over the board can protect the paper surface from sanitizing between students. Clear contact paper is another option for covering and preserving materials.
I recommend laminating anything that may not survive constant sanitation. I have a home laminator that I use when I am working from home or have the genius idea to laminate at 10:30 on a school night. I have purchased various weights of lamination. Sometimes I want a light, flexible hold and sometimes I want a heavy, strong hold. Lamination at school typically tends to be a lighter level , so needing the heavy stuff is why I did some Amazon clicking.
Sanitizer or alcohol is an obvious thing to have. My hope is wherever you are working schools will provide this. I am sure there will be something distributed, but if you are fussy about smell….like me, maybe consider getting sanitizer that agrees with your skin and sense of smell.
Cleaning Supplies are most likely not going to be an issue at schools. Be sure you find out what is being used or acceptable if you want a personal stash. I know I intend to have a zip bag with small sized cleaning products in my car incase I need to manage things to my liking. We all are going to come at returning to school at different perspectives and comfort levels. I am not a germaphobe or scared to return, but I know I need to be mindful and respectful of my peers and students who do not have the same feelings or outlook I have.
In a secondary zip bag I am going to have for myself: baby wipes, alcohol spray bottle, tissues and tic tacs. I know on a typical day o like to refresh. Depending on the students you serve or the amount of buildings you enter…I normally just feel like I need to scrub up, so I just want to be prepared for new feelings or the new reality of being itinerant.
These items will be just for me, especially the tic tacs. I have found a mint or mint gum helps my anxiety when I am wearing a mask for and extended time. I am not sure if it the smell or the oral stimulation that distracts me from the gross dislike I have for wearing a mask. I despise anything touching my face. This mask wearing will be a challenge, but my hope is I become a more relaxed wearer and also smell minty fresh!
One thing I am considering is ditching the big binder. I always look for way to be lighter. I change data collection, notes and organization almost yearly. Having things in a digital planbook is the lightest, but it has pros and cons. Last year I went back to a paper planner and data collection. I wasn’t planning on changing it up, but I started to think about taking it and setting it down in multiple places. I know I can try to keep it clean, but do I want to is my current dilemma. I think the right answer is choosing what you feel most comfortable doing. If changing your process seems like just one more thing and might stress you out don’t change.
Post it notes or a small notebook might be a long option to carry in to use for data and notes. Then this information could be added at points in the day to your big binder or plan book. This could easily be done when you return to the car.
Procedures and rules for each school may be slightly different. Be sure to know what your expectations are. Where you will be able to safely work with your students is key this year. I know I have had random and inconsistent work spaces, so be pleasantly persistent for what your students need. With social distancing going on workspaces will be at a premium, regardless you are important too.
Remember to sanitize your vehicle. I keep a small spay bottle, in my cup holder, filled with rubbing alcohol. I like to mist the wheel and my dash area for a quick clean between stops. My vehicle is my partial work space, so I want to make sure it is safe for me and my family.
Starting out may be a bumpy road, but hopefully these ideas help. I looking forward to being in my buildings and seeing my students. Getting back on the road will be a welcome change. Safe travels and happy teaching.
You can always like and follow me. Be sure to look back into my archives if you are looking for any other Itinerant Teaching ideas.