As teachers we aren’t supposed to have favorites. But let’s be real, we’re human. I have taught hundreds of kids over the past two decades and I have loved (most of) them. There are definitely kids that have stuck out and stuck with me though. Four weeks into this school year I can already identify two that I think will fit that category. I have a delightful class this year. I know it. I hear it from the special education teacher and instructional assistants who support my kiddos and me. I hear it from the music and art teachers my kids see. My class is awesome.
One of the ones who really sticks out is one I got to meet in person when we did laptop distribution. She’s new to our school, as our many of kids because we’re on a military post. She’s an only child and she’s an absolute hoot. Last week, during one morning meeting, we did a movement greeting. (Coming up with fun, meaningful greetings for virtual morning meetings is not one of my favorite things.) In a movement greeting, students say good morning and share a movement they are doing. For example, “Good morning, I’m jumping.” Then the rest of us copy them. (Or don’t. It’s virtual. We can’t see everyone. It’s all good.) This specific student, when greeting us, said, “Good morning! I’m sinking into despair because of this virus.” It was said in a upbeat, cheery tone. I had to mute myself while I lost it.
This morning I had to take my students through the process of logging onto our district’s site for online assessments. The number of reasons I hate this are more than I can count. I hate it when we’re in school together and I hate it even more right now. My 13 year old had an assessment that was complete but could be retaken so we worked together to make a screencast video of the steps for logging in. There are quite a few. Then we went slowly through the process this morning as a class. It was not fun. I went super slowly because some students have iffy internet and I didn’t want to lose them as their devices loaded.
The student I mentioned above raised her hand at one point. I asked if she had a question and she said (in an upbeat, cheery tone that I’m beginning to think is just how she always sounds), “Ms. Orr, I got bored waiting and I was playing around and now my screen is turned sideways.”
from Pesky Librarians’ flickr
Fortunately, when my 17 year old was a toddler she managed to hit hot keys on my dad’s laptop and do the exact same thing. He was amused and frustrated. The frustration came from the challenge of trying to navigate his mouse to do an online search to figure out how to fix the problem as this was before smart phones and that was the device they had. It was quite entertaining to my mother and me.
I told this poor kiddo to hold off for a bit (read a book, take a bathroom break, grab a snack, whatever to kill a bit of time). I got the rest of the class through the absurd process of logging on and taking a quick three question thing I’d created to give them this practice (it was full of silly, stupid questions). Then I had them start a new math activity and went to a breakout room with this little one.
I walked her through finding the crtl and alt keys on her keyboard and holding them down. I told her to click an arrow key. I don’t think anything happened quickly enough so she clicked a few times. Then her screen was spinning. She was laughing as she explained it to me. Then we were both cracking up. Finally I told her to wait, hold ctrl and alt, tap the up arrow once, and then WAIT! That fixed it. She squealed with excitement.
If we’d been in person we would have solved that problem so much more quickly but it would have been so much less entertaining. I say that with confidence because I’ve had students run into this problem multiple times in the past decade or so.
There are so many things right now that are hard and sad and awful. It’s easy for me to get completely caught up in the negatives. There are still a lot of positives and I am working to be sure I see them.