The Paperless English Class 2020

Hybrid teaching started on Monday, October 19, 2020, and now there are three reported cases of COVID in three different schools in my school district. I am concerned about my safety and the safety of my colleagues, some are approaching retirement age or grappling with underlying medical conditions. As my anxiety rises, I am trying to stay positive. In March 2020, my school district transitioned to a full remote learning during the third marking period, then we shifted to an A/B Schedule for the fourth marking period. During the summer, I along with my other colleagues, anticipated a continuation of remote learning for Fall 2020, then in August, the Superintendent decided to switch to a Hybrid Schedule, then by the end of August, he decided to continue with remote learning until October 19 with a MTRF Schedule and the a Wednesday all-remote schedule. Within a seven-month period, I had to adjust to six schedules. I am sure that my colleagues are feeling the same anxiety that I am feeling and trying to find ways to cope with this anxiety.

I do not want to take medication nor do I have time to commit to talk-therapy. Therefore, I find writing my weekly blog therapeutic in that I am able to express my uncertainty of the future. Since I am a planner, I feel helpless and uncomfortable with uncertainty, especially when spontaneity has never been my friend. My students ask, “Ms. Pham, will they make us go back during the second marking period?” I recognize the anxiety in their voices.

“No worries, they will let you decide if you want to remain remote or if you want to go back to school. You will have a choice.” I try to reassure them. I try to remain strong and positive around my students. I try to hide my own apprehension.

When I returned to school, I visited the copier room. God, I missed the feel and smell of paper. I went crazy and made copies of class rosters. I miss pens, white composition paper, paperbacks. I am struggling to read and teach from a PDF on Kami. Reading from a PDf is a very different experience from reading a book. To my dismay, my students prefer to read online. Even before COVID, a majority of my students did not want hard copies of novels. They preferred reading e-books. I am afraid that books will slowly disappear from my school. The library, once filled with books, is now the media center. At our English Department meeting, the Supervisor announced that we do not have a budget for new paperbacks. Will the district allocate money for books after the pandemic? Teaching English without paper, pens, and books. It is indeed a brave new world. 

My Favorite Room

I shudder at the thought of a paperless English class, then I start printing out my 25-page research proposal. With great pleasure, I watch the machine churn out sheets of paper. I smile at the stack of paper. Oh, how I missed the copier room. Now, I am in the process of crossing out sources on my Works Cited and revising my Introduction by hand and not by machine.  

Last week I appreciated the writing conference with Dr. Zamora. I appreciated her advice to write without fear. Write freely.  

Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on.

John Steinbeck

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