I start each of my school days right now with a 30 minute, whole class session. We do a morning meeting and then a short interactive read aloud or number sense routine. It is an amazing part of my day, the four days a week it happens. Of my 22 students I usually have about 19 in that session. (One kid won’t be there at all as the tech is just not working for his family. He and I are now doing one-on-one meetings via facetime. Whatever works.)
The kids have got it all down now. Their mics are off unless they’re the one talking. As is mine, just in case you were wondering. They raise their hands if they want to share something and either I call on them or the student who had the floor before them does. They’ve managed to translate a lot of our in-our-physical-classroom-space routines to in-our-digital-classroom-space. It’s really amazing to me.
This morning we tried a one minute greeting. In our classroom this means I hold up a one-minute sand timer and we all mill about the carpet greeting each other until time runs out. Today I put a digital timer up on the screen and we all just talked at each other with greetings. I worried it would get super loud as some tried to yell over others, but it didn’t. Some didn’t speak at all, which is a choice they get to make. At the one minute point they all turned off their mics and got ready for our share.
Several kids shared today and called on their classmates for questions or comments. As this was happening, two of my students, neither of whom were talking or even had their mics on during this time, held up the cards I had mailed them. They put them right up to their cameras to let me know they had gotten them. No words, no distraction to others, just a way to let me know. It nearly made me cry.
Every kid in my class has gotten one postcard and two notecards in the past two months. My own children have been going through books and now I’m trying to pick one book per student to mail to them with another note. One student has written a note and mailed it back to me. Another mom asked if her child could do the same, to the return address on the card. (It’s my home address so I said sure. I would love notes from them.)
This is the third week our online instruction has really been happening. The first couple of weeks involved a lot of working through technology problems and making sure we all knew how everything worked. This week I feel like I’m actually addressing some academic learning. My small groups are doing guided reading and math work in ways that feel meaningful. It’s been wonderful.
I had to capture some shots of the math the kids were doing because it erases as soon as we move away from the specific screen. (And no judging all the tabs I have open!)
But I know it happens because of the relationships that we have. The notecards are one way that I can keep nourishing those relationships. It’s harder when we aren’t together everyday, all day, in the same physical space. I have to think about it more, focus on it, plan for it. But it is worth it.