The new normal

March 4, 2020
“I just want March to be over! I’ll finally be able to breathe.”


Well, the abrupt halt to all activities and normal work routine mid-March helped end my misery of busyness and complaining. However, I now had new things that have added a different type of stress and worry to my life…the unknown.

My new normal includes a lot more technology time, which has hindered my daily reliance on exercise of walking to and from each class that I supported as an LRT. Sitting for long periods at a time at my kitchen table hasn’t been the best for my personal well-being, but I have made some adjustments to ensure that I am still getting the activity that I desire as well as teaching my own two kids (9 and 11 years old) and now my niece and nephew (12 and 15 years old) in addition to my own work responsibilities. Hello Netflix and tred….my positive spin-off which includes crushing some popular Netflix series as I use my treadmill to walk/run each morning. Such an invaluable and rewarding routine. I’ll elaborate more on how my personal life has been impacted by this later on in this post. For now, let’s focus on the professional side of things.

Great running shirts from Sarah Marie Design Studios
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Technology with Work

I work with Regina Public so we use Google Classroom, which includes Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Forms, and Gmail among others. We also use Google Meet daily, which is a platform similar to Zoom, but with fewer options and more lag. However, it works with the small number of students that login to connect with our teachers each day.

Because I have been added to each of the Google Classrooms, I get to see first hand how each teacher is using these tools and provide suggestions/guidance to make their lives easier and to get more engagement from students. This engagement is on video chats or academic work that is assigned. For this, I have taken to Twitter to help get some ideas, perspectives on how others are doing things, and tools that have yet to be explored. This is how I am proving to myself to be useful as my regular LRT duties are difficult to replicate in this new type of learning environment, and I am still looking for suggestions on how I can be of more use to my teachers and families. Please, let me know how you’re fulfilling this role if you are a support teacher.

I also join in with the daily Google Meet sessions that most of my teachers offer each day in order to connect with them and their students. I take more of the role of one of the students and play along in the games and activities, such as bingo (with online bingo cards), scavenger hunts, Scattegories, and spell your name workout. However, I do use Google Meet often to have face-to-face conversations or “meetings” with my staff as well. What’s App is another tool I use to group chat with my cohort as I have an Android and they have iPhones.

Technology as a Parent

Much like technology for work, I also use Google Classroom for helping my children and nieces/nephew acquire, complete, and hand in their academic tasks. For some of the things they’ve done on this platform, I’ve asked permission from their teachers to share with the teachers I support and vice versa. Again, I’m trying to feel like I’m earning my keep. By using this technology with my kids, I’ve also been able to show them some tricks of the trade when navigating Google Suite tools or any others for that matter. This has helped them be more independent and efficient at getting their work done. I think they’re seeing the value that I have to offer when mom knows “cool” new tricks to make life easier. In addition, they are in grades 4 and 6 which I have taught for over 10 years, so they are starting to trust that I know what I’m talking about. My nephew said to me today, “Why aren’t you a science teacher?” when I was explaining what arteries were to him. I walked with my head a little higher after that!

pat morita nod GIF
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Technology for Me

Here is where I start to realize how many apps/tools I use in a day, much like what Amanda tweeted recently, but most I won’t mention as they aren’t significant and I feel less guilty when it’s not documented.

First off, I use Zoom and Skype on a weekly basis to connect with friends and family to play games or just visit. Although it’s not the same, I can have a glass of chardonnay and not worry about how I’m getting home, so there’s a bit of a silver lining. My husband was even able to connect the JackBox games we have from our Xbox to our friends’ and play with them at the same time.

I have also upped my VarageSale and Facebook Marketplace presence due to my schedule opening up. Now that my focus and attention isn’t set on what rink or ball diamond we are going to next, I am able to see the clutter we have accumulated, for which I have turned into some extra cash. So, I check this daily and help family members to get rid of stuff as well. This is a bit of a side gig that I enjoy participating in as I treat it like a game.

Another app I use to find connect with friends, family as well as to get new ideas is Instagram. Most recently I’ve been following a Calgary based house cleaning company to get motivation and inspiration to clean my house. Tide is the way to go!

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I’ve also taken up reading, but not in your conventional way. I crush audiobooks using the Regina Public Library and Overdrive apps as it allows me to multitask at the same time. The most recent books I’ve tackled are Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and a classic Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. Hint…you can increase the reading rate so you can get through even more books in a shorter amount of time!

My last guilty pleasure is your typical game app called Homescapes. Much like Candy Crush, this is mindless but addicting and a fun way to do something while I listen to my audiobooks and prepare for the Sandman to come each night. Thankfully there is a restriction on how long you can play for or else I would need an intervention.

Now that class has started, I will often check on the ECI830 hub to learn from my classmates and to get inspiration for writing my blog. Thanks to Nancy for not knowingly help me organize my ideas for this post!

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19 thoughts on “The new normal

  1. Hey Daina,
    I never even thought of connecting with WhatsApp… that is a great idea! My friends and I have Friday night Facetime, which now we tend to use Facebook Messenger because it seems a little clearer. It actually isn’t much different for me in that regards because they all live in different parts of the country so we have been connecting that way since I moved to Regina. I can also feel you on the extra time for Varage Sale and Facebook Marketplace… the pocket book is hurting… good thing for etransfer as no one takes cash. Reading through these has really brought to light how much we actually use technology in a day. Hopefully by the end of this class I will feel a little more tech sauve.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Daina,
    You had me giggling!! The tide meme is definitely the best.

    I’m a big supporter of mental health and I can see that you are taking care of yourself during these crazy times. Exercising, staying connected with your family, reading, playing games are all very important part of a self care routine you have instilled for your well being. I applaud you for that. I find that, as a mother, it is sometimes so hard to find some time to think about what I need in the moment. Being away from my family and in “lockdown” on top of work, school, and raising children, life gets hectic, scary and overwhelming but strangely beautiful all at the same time.

    Like you, I loooooove reading. I am not a fan of audiobooks though, but I do always have an e-book and a real book on the go. Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is sitting in my “to-be-read” pile at the moment. I’m anxious to get it started because I’ve heard only good things about it! Have you heard about the Goodreads App/Website? That’s another tool I use to keep track of my personal readings. You can even set a goal for the year by choosing how many books you would like to read. It’s magnificent! Well I might be a little competitive, but I think it awesome.
    Thanks for the great post,
    Cheers
    Jasmine

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’ve heard about and have signed up years ago but never think to log on to rate the books that I read as I am a sporadic reader. I mostly read in the summer for obvious reasons (more time), but now that I’ve crushing audiobooks, this is a great idea. By the way, I just listened to The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak and it was really good. There is a movie for it as well apparently, so I’m going to try to find that online, which is not an easy task.

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      • I’ve read The Book Thief a few years ago. It was really good, heartbreaking really. I haven’t seen the movie though. Will have to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.

        Liked by 1 person

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  4. Hi Diana,
    I completely relate to you when you were talking about not being as active since we have started teaching from home. I am definitely missing all the walking around I did while teaching. I have had to work hard at making sure I am getting away from the computer and moving at least once a day. I also use the Google suit with my students and I too really enjoy using this platform. I find this platform exceptionally easy to use when setting up a google meet or sending out assignments. I also like how easy it is to comment on students work when they hand it in.
    Alyssa

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Just here with a few observations:
    1) GO CLEAN CO – It’s my favourite, have you stripped your sheets yet?!?!
    2) I am so interested in all the Google Platforms! My division uses microsoft and therefore with my staff and students I use Teams and Skype and Outlook. However I find for graduate studies I have slowly but surely been learning how to utilize Google programs! I truly love the ease in which they all work together, and find that I am always looking for a work around when it comes to Mircosoft that might not be there if I could just use Google! I hope you know I will now be coming to you for advice and tips!
    3) I am happy to hear that you are taking steps to care for your own well being when it sounds like you have so much else on your plate. I find self care is truly one of the last things on my list, and the first thing I will skip over to fit in more time on other tasks. This post reminded me I better schedule some time to finish the THREE books I started in March.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and routines!

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    • 1. No, I have not stripped my sheets yet, but it’s on my list of things to clean, as well as my towels.
      2. Yes, ask away about anything Google Classroom related. I am not an expert by any means but I’ve been able to see what the five teachers that I support are doing, which is cool to be a part of.
      3. Self-care is important but I didn’t really see what I was doing as that until others, like you, have commented on it. I sometimes feel guilty, which is terrible, but I try to involve my girls in it too when I can. We have been enjoying doing some puzzles as well, which is a good challenge that can be picked away at when I need a break from other things, like posting/responding to blogs 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Appreciate how you share life in from your personal and professional life (including some of the little things like a reading or doing Netflix and treadmill). Happy to see that work you did with Google Suite before all this has given you a step up on remote learning. Nice to see that you know your teaching is being recognized by your family. The Tide graphic was awesome – David Harbor for the win.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love your idea to look at using technology through the different roles that you take on in a day, teacher, parent, personal, etc. Looks like you are well-organized!

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  8. I need to get on the “Netflix and Tred”. I think being able to be a part of so many teachers supplemental learning “classrooms” would be rewarding in the sense of understanding how teachers are running their classrooms. Our school division is running grade alike professional learning communities (PLCs). In these PLCs teachers are able to share what is working well in the classrooms. I believe the ability to collaborate with each other is extremely important in these times.

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    • It is definitely rewarding! I have been able to recommend different approaches/ideas that teachers are using daily to others that are feeling dejected by that lack of student participation. We can always learn from each other through conversation but it’s a different kind of learning when you can see it from a different angle as a participant or observer yourself. I think this is one thing I’d like to try to see if our school can do once we return; set up times when teachers can observe each others’ teaching as we already have such talent that gets hidden behind closed doors and busy schedules.

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  9. Daina,
    I can’t imagine having four kids around you and trying to work full time! You are doing incredible and definitely earning and deserving of your work. Don’t ever doubt that! I’m sure your expertise and support is very much appreciated by the teachers you support. I know you work very hard to do as much as you can for your teachers and students. Thank you for sharing what your world looks like right now. It is interesting to see a teacher and parent perspective put together. Know that you are doing more than enough!
    Christina 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Daina,
    You have suggested many wonderful resources, and I am embarrassed to say the one that caught my attention the most is the tips from the house cleaning company! When we first were sent home, I cleaned my house from top to bottom, it was like I was getting every germ, piece of dust, clutter taken care of. Looking back, I think it was because cleaning was one thing I had control over at the time. Our world was turned upside down and we weren’t sure what we should be doing while we “paused”. So, never one to sit still, I cleaned, like a maniac!!! In all seriousness, though, I commend you for balancing everything you are doing. My kids are in Grades 10 and 12 so they are fairly independent in their learning (besides, I’m not much help in Physics or Calculus) so I can’t imagine the added pressure of teaching your own family members while trying to work from home. You definitely are Mr. Miyagi!

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    • Cleaning is a satisfying escape as you can see immediate results. I hate to say that I don’t do it as often as I should, but by following this Instagram page, I’ve been motivated to do more cleaning now than ever, especially with more time on my hands in the evenings. Just recently she posted camper/RV cleaning tips, which is right up my alley as we are now spending weekends at our seasonal site. Let the cleaning begin….or continue I guess!

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  11. I think one of the first things I noticed when I was home for the first few weeks was how much I missed walking up and down the stairs to my third floor room. It was that little movement and exercise I was getting each day that I didn’t even know i appreciated. I am amazed that you are doing all your professional work on top of teaching four kids. By the sounds of it you aren’t just teaching them but you are killing it. I also need to comment on your bedtime routine. We share a similar routine except I play gardenscapes instead of homescapes. Same people different area. It can get addicting for sure!

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    • Don’t kid yourself, I dedicate about two hours off and on to mostly ensure they are getting their assigned tasks done and answering any questions they may have. I don’t know if I’d call it “teaching”, more so “managing” or “supervising”. Regardless, it is work, but it is keeping me in teacher mode, which I miss right now. However, I don’t get the same bright smiling faces and eager attitudes from my kids and niece/nephew that I do from the students I work with, but I sure they appreciate what I am doing for them…or they will one day.
      Gardenscapes…..that sounds dangerous….dangerously addicting! Now I know there is a sequel I can progress to once I “wrap” Homescapes. My motivation has increased!

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  12. Diana,

    Loved your post. The adaptation of exercise and finding a new routine resonated with me as well. I laughed as I have ‘crushed’ many Netflix series on the treadclimber each morning and finally starting to feel that my routine and health has returned to a balanced form. The chance to organize my professional and personal life when some times allows is ridiculously satisfying. Love the TIDE gif! Its the little things right?!

    Liked by 1 person

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