I didn’t sleep well last night. It felt like the first day of school. AGAIN.
My team has worked so hard together to create a learning experience we can offer students, with both synchronous and asynchronous pieces. I have worked so hard to make sure everything is totally together and ready and to communicate with families. But we were starting a new way of accessing everything today and it was stressful.
At 8:45 I got logged in to our classroom space, ready for kids to arrive for a starting time of 9:00. From about 8:50-9:15 I juggled interacting with the kids who were in that space (between about 13 and 17 kids throughout our time) and texting and emailing with parents who were having difficulty getting in. Several issues we managed to problem solve so we got almost everyone in during our time. We were able to do a greeting together – which the kids did shockingly independently as they’ve only had two other opportunities to be in this space and learn the tools. And thank goodness because it allowed me to help parents more easily. Several kids shared and were able to answer questions from their classmates. We explored the space a bit more and I walked them through some of the new plans that changed since last Tuesday. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good. So good. We saw each other. We heard each other. We laughed together.
One girl wanted to share and she brought her newborn baby sister to the camera. Multiple kids have showed off their dogs. Our learning space is also their homes and, for many of them at least, that seems to have some level of excitement. We can share aspects of ourselves that we weren’t able to do in our school building. They can also turn to a parent for support if they need some help. That’s reassuring for many.
In the afternoon I had scheduled ten minute one-on-one meetings with six of my students. I met with all six. That’s a serious win. One was a boy who was having trouble this morning and never managed to get in. His parents emailed and then we spoke on the phone. Then they texted me photos of the computer screen. Finally we used facetime so I could see the computer and we could try to figure out what was going on. And we did! So I was able to meet with him and he (and his brother) is all set for tomorrow and future meetings.
This is so far from ideal. Not only for educational and academic reasons, but for so many more critical reasons. The levels of stress and anxiety many kids are feeling are no joke. The lack of routine is tough for many. Parents are trying to work, often in the same space with their children, while helping the kids navigate this. Many kids are inside all day, every day. Emotionally, physically, intellectually, socially; this is just really, really hard.
Our thirty minutes together this morning was an absolute joy. The one-on-one conversations I had with kids this afternoon were a gift. At least one kid talked more during that ten minutes than I’ve heard him talk in full days in our classroom.
What we’ve got right now isn’t enough. It isn’t going to meet their needs. (Of course, if we think what we had two months ago was enough and meeting the needs of all kids we are deluding ourselves.) It is, however, something. If kids aren’t able to tackle the academic pieces we are putting out there for them, that is fine. If they want to join us for morning meeting, meet with me to touch base and talk about anything they want (the one kid who talked so much today talked mostly about Fortnite) and ignore all the rest, I’m fine with that. If they want to watch the videos of me reading books but nothing more, that’s fine too. Some kids will want to do it all and that’s fine too.
Being together is worth something. It clearly matters to many kids. It definitely matters to me. I’m glad we had the time we had today. I’m looking forward to the rest of this week. I will still ache a little with how much I miss seeing my kids come in every morning, ready to share something from the past evening with me or ready to hug their friend or ready to get back to some piece of writing they were creating. I will still ache a little with how much I miss their looks of shock when they realize a twist in a book we’re reading or the pride on their faces when they solve something new. I will still ache a little at all we’ve lost. But I will be grateful for the chance to be together.