I have a collection of screen shots and short movies on my ‘desktop’. Tiny moments in time between me and students. Once I had an endless supply of live moments between myself and students. Random drop ins from them into the literacy center or from me to their classroom, hallway chats, quick lessons plan quickly over morning coffee and then taught in messy harmony that very day. Currently none of that is afforded to me or most likely to you. I live in a restricted, time-crunch, ten-minute-window bubble.
In that bubble, I see a very few students during their remote time. Each second of those appointments with students, I treasure. I believe I always treasured those moments, but now they feel precious. When I get to see a Christmas tree, or comment on a funny t-shirts. When a student is anxious to share their written story or write a new one together. This is what drives me forward. That and the promise of a future that resembles my past.
As we write, the young writers earnestly tilt their screens down to share their print on the page with me. We collaborate, we discuss, we celebrate, and we generally get the business done in a way that I would have never imagined last year or perhaps even last week. I’ve come to treat this time as I would a conference in real life. I plan for it, I inquire, I listen, I encourage, and also, I treasure.
Yesterday, this pictured writer taught me how to make hot cocoa. It occurred to me that there isn’t just one way. His way sounded just right. I wish we could have celebrated with a cup together. Today, he taught me how to draw a snowman. I carefully held my drawing up to the camera and he tilted his screen so I could see your words. We worked together to revise his directions. I listened as he sounded out each written letter, his mother prompting him to speak louder so I could hear him. The truth was, I could hear him just fine. Years of listening to subvocalization in spelling has made my hearing keener, perhaps.
He was happy and I was so happy. This home “work” is tough. Even for our youngest learners, I think it must feel isolating as well. The kiddos are used to us coaching from the sides, checking in, redirecting. They remember noticing what their classmates are doing. They remember the companionship of a classroom. At home, every one is trying to do their thing and it’s hard to keep everyone moving forward sometimes. I am happy to help. I want to discuss the finer points of pencil erasers and why there is never enough room to get all you want to say on the page. I want to smile at them with my whole face and see them smile back with theirs.
So thank you to all of my young writer friends and their parents who share this time with me. I honestly don’t know what I would do without you. You are what keep me going day after day. I think about your toothy grins, your drawings, your dialogue, your careful spelling in all of those quiet, too quiet moments when I am on my own.
Keep plugging along, you tenacious beings. I got your back.