Caught Between Zoom and… #sol20

Caught Between Zoom and (NYC) well actually NMA… #sol20

November 24, 2020

The struggle is real… well actually it’s virtual and sometimes real. Not as frequently as I want, I see and talk to teachers, students, and other members of our learning community in real life. I help students out of the cars in the morning. I attend morning meeting which is in that half-land of some students virtual and some on hand. In any given classroom situation, I might hear my voice or even see myself as a teacher shares a read aloud I’ve recorded or a video that I’ve made for the students and staff.

I meet with students in their home weeks. Sometimes they would rather show me things than have a writing conference. Parents are lurking in the background. Even when they try to leave, the children grab them and beg them to stay. Sometimes the parents over-scaffold. Sometimes the students show the parents to me so I know they are there. Most times I carry on. I redirect. I give them all something to work on.

It feels like I don’t really live anywhere. Am I virtual? Am I operating in that space that I once roamed freely? It’s hard to know. Even the real world doesn’t feel so real. I have to consciously think about how long I’ve remained in one space. How many spaces did I enter today? Was I here yesterday? Have I seen or spoken to this teacher, this grade level today, this week?

Then I consider how I am communicating virtually. Everyone seems tired. They receive too many emails. They have so little open time during the day. They want to get home to eat and change and … feel safe. They don’t have time for emails. We don’t have time for casual chat either. I had never, ever used the phone on my desk… all these years, but now I want to make a quick call so people aren’t overwhelmed by writing or exposure.

A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that I could make quick, semi-messy videos to communicate to people. I want to share an idea with you so I’m sending you this video message. I wanted to explain something in more depth so I made you this video. I wanted to share this book with your class so I made a quick video and a small slide show. For many, I just live in the virtual.

It was never more apparent than last week when I was assessing kindergarten remote students after school in the lobby and then assessing first grade remote students in the morning over google meet. Same basic assessments. Similar parents. Similar kiddos. But in that real environment our faces our covered and I’m recycling all the paper. I have a ‘quarantine bin’ for the papers which will be recycled and the blocks which I will quarantine for a few days with the pencils.

For the on screen students, I’ve made a slide show and I’m sharing my screen. I greet them and remind them who I am. The fully remote students feel disconnected, but I’m working the room, using their names, remind them of shared experiences. It was working!

The shock was… is that virtual world easier right now. Do I (we) function better when we can feel safe, take a sip of coffee, hear our voices unmuffled? If so, that’s startling. I’ll give us all a minute to think about it while I unmask and drink some coffee.

4 thoughts on “Caught Between Zoom and… #sol20

  1. I think this is testimony to our great ability to adapt – it’s greater than we think. I’ve been in contact with parents more this year and find myself feeling good about that. Who would have imagined quarantine bins… and I can see you working the room, virtually! Teachers find a way …enjoy those unmasked, very necessary, sips of coffee, and your holiday.

  2. You’ve posed questions and have made statements that I have found myself nodding along to. But, as Fran pointed out, we are all trying to adapt to this new time and the new demands it poses.

    My daughter is off from school this week. It has been freeing not to have to stay on top of her, making sure she’s in the right Zoom at the right time. (She’s actually great at managing that so long as I set the alarm reminders for her.) But, honestly, I wouldn’t mind if she had two weeks off right now. I think she and I both need it.

  3. I’ve found myself wondering if the virtual word has some benefits these days. I’m teaching first grade online and those kids are thriving. They look forward to our morning together. Then when I go into classrooms for coaching work, it feels limited by all of the new accessories- masks, plexiglass…space. There are pros and cons for both. I love your idea for short videos. I too find myself unable to send another email to the mountains I know people are already receiving. Just keep doing your best. You matter.

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