Noelle Morris: Thank you for sharing that, and I know that many of our listeners and our fellow teachers will relate to that. Similar to what I want to talk to you about now, which is, I think you’re about to be going through some additional changes, right? You're going to be consolidating two middle schools into one, something that should be so exciting.
What are your emotions now about this new change and what are you doing to prepare and be ready and motivate yourself?
Bianca Cole: This was my very first year in this district and in this building, so I didn't have the [same] kind of emotions [as] some of the teachers that have been in there 10 years or 20 years.
But it was new to me and I wanted to experience the entire school year. I wanted to be able to go to the assemblies and participate in the eighth grade graduations and just be there as a teacher. And I was getting comfortable, but I felt like I had just moved in in August and already had to move out at the beginning of April.
So goals that we worked on in September, we usually reflect back on in June, and we weren't able to do that as a classroom. And then in January we wrote letters to ourselves, and I started receiving some of the letters and [it's] just this week that we're going to discuss it online. But just being able to have that feeling in the classroom and that team feeling, the family kind of feeling that we have as a classroom, we won't be able to experience that.
I know for a lot of other teachers that were there, that have been there a long time, they are trying to preserve that family feeling that they always had in their building. We've been making a lot of videos and doing virtual tours of the school building before it gets demolished, because it's going to be an industrial site going forward.
Noelle Morris: The fact that you just said your students are returning letters and they're writing—it shows you that even from their perspective, what they need for closure and part of their tradition of the last day of school, they're also searching for. So I applaud you for that and I know, and I can imagine, that reading those letters is going to bring more emotion out that, as a teacher and as a mom, you're going to be processing and working through.
Let's talk about the realities. You now have been home for three months. You have been a primary teacher for your son. He's engaged and remote. What did the typical conversations and day with the two of you look like and sound like?
Bianca Cole: Early on, I made him a schedule. I wanted him to only focus on a class subject or two a day. I didn't want him to have to work on all of his subjects because I know he gets frustrated with that.
We have a great relationship where he is able to ask me when he needs help and let me know that he's struggling in some areas. When I talk to him and check in with him, we have to have separate times of working, so I go in and I start teaching my class and then I have him check his assignments for the day.
That's how he always starts to check his assignments for all those classes, even though he's just working on one thing. And so, he's usually pretty responsive. He doesn't mind me telling him, “Oh, I need you to read for 20 minutes” or “I want you just to write freely for five minutes.” He doesn't mind that at all.
He's a pretty good kid but doesn't like being in the distance learning, even though he likes staying at home. He's like, “I like to stay at home, but I don't want to keep doing this.” So when I assign him extra things, [like] a reading assignment, he doesn't mind. He just continues with it and he sits next to me and he reads and I ask him questions and we just kind of work together and it's [become] a little bit more natural as time went on. We did lose a little bit of our steam starting out. I know in the first two weeks we were going really strong and then I could see him getting frustrated.
And I just tell him, “Hey, we can save that for tomorrow,” or “You know what, let's save that for a Saturday where I have more free time to work with you.”