Saturday, September 12, 2020

COVIDiary: After Virtual Week Four, Is It Getting Any Easier?

Let me start out by making two points. One: Nothing beats learning in a classroom of your peers with a teacher being able to look you in the eye to gauge how/if you're receiving the instruction (also, Recess! Lunch! Book fair! School carnival! etc.). Two: Teachers aren't paid enough. Even the so-called "bad" ones.

After four weeks of virtual learning, you'd think all the kinks would've been ironed out, all technology glitches un-glitched, all transitions from app to platform to app would be seamless, and all stress levels at a post-yoga session calm. But, well, no. 

With two 5th grade boys - in the same class, so they can work together and keep each other motivated much of the time - and two 2nd grade girls - different classes with the same assignments at different times (oy!) and a proclivity for a lot of social interaction, my job as monitor/proctor is to keep them on task, get them from one class to the next, and keep everyone engaged with whatever's happening on their screens. There have been melt-downs. There can be confusion. And every once in a while, Charlotte looks up and sends up a plaintive cry, "I want to go to school!" 

I feel ya', girl! 

Now, to be fair, there's a lot that has gotten easier. We're getting better at completing and submitting assignments. We've discovered the value of vigorous exercise (running, trampolining, hide-and-seek) during all breaks - even during the 10 minute ones. It makes a huge difference in the kids' ability to focus on the next class. The lessons are incredible - well thought-out and varied with short, cool videos, brief teacher instruction, group work, and interesting assignments that are fun to do. 

But as tiring and frustrating this can be for our kids and their monitor, we do have the technology and the art supplies and the science and math journals, and a safe, organized place to work. My heart breaks for all the children who don't have those things. My heart breaks for parents having a hard time following the instructions (shoot, I have trouble with that) and making sure their kids understand the assignments. This is hard. It's hard for me as an English-speaker with a post-grad education. I can't imagine doing this with anything less, Plus still having to go out to work, which I'm doing but only part-time. How full-timers are handling this, I'll never know.

All any of us can do - those of us with resources and those blessed ones without - is to keep going, plow ahead, and not give up. Easier said than done on many days - I get it. And for all the teachers working 24/7 creating and distributing lesson plans, schedules, assignments, and offering counseling times, words cannot express our appreciation for you. I pray this translates into higher salaries and benefits for you. 

So on to virtual week five. We're living through historic times and as long as we all keep well, everything will be fine. Really.