Life has taken a huge turn for all of us. Looking at my blog, my last post was March 15th. I was concerned then with staying healthy, washing hands constantly, and using hand sanitizer. That seemed easy and doable. Since then, life has changed.
I’ve been away from my blog because like you, I am adjusting to a new normal. Friday, March 13th we were told at noon that our children would leave school that day and not be back for a month. Two hours is not a lot of time to prep seven-year-olds for online school. But we did our best, I quickly created a Google Classroom, taught them how to sign in, I had them pack up their back packs with their project folder, markers and crayons, we built our leprechaun traps, visited our school’s baby goats, and I hugged them good-bye.
Monday was a planned in-service day and we took advantage of it to learn more about distant learning; however, again our day’s plans changed with another life altering announcement. Around 1:00 p.m. our county announced a Shelter-in-Place was going into effect at midnight. Our school quickly notified parents to pick up chrome books, while teachers and aides gathered and disinfected over 500 devices and organized them for easier distribution. All of this in the rain. Once I caught my breath, I packed school supplies, my classroom plants, and everything I thought I would need for the next month into the back of my Jeep. I headed home to set up a new “classroom” in my small office.
Learning to Live a New Normal
Tuesday, March 17th, I had 22 of my 24 second graders show up for “school” smiling at me ready to learn through our computer screens. I was able to connect with my missing two, help them with the required technology, and then on Wednesday and every school day since then, I have had 24 giggly, smiley second graders greet me each morning ready to learn.
To say that this is has been overwhelming would be an understatement. My students, their parents, grandparents, and caregivers, and I have navigated new waters. It has been hard and it’s gone well. My students are busy growing radish seeds I sent them in the mail and recording dated observations with hand drawn pictures and measurements.
they have learned to navigate a Google doc, writing a story and adding art work; they learned how to publish it as a screencast and then shared it at our online publishing party.
They attend live whole class math lessons, small group reading lessons, and check-in meetings. They share jokes and riddles at our 11:30 check-in, and our 2:00 check-in includes me reading them a story. We took a field trip via Zoom to my daughter’s farm in Colorado to see her radish plants, green houses, chickens, and meet the baby lambs.
They turn in work with uploaded jpegs, edited pdfs, and pictures of them holding printed worksheets. They watch my video recordings of writing, spelling, and phonics lessons. We celebrate birthdays with our birthday song and printable birthday card full of pictures and wishes on a Padlet bulletin board. It’s different, but it works.
It has worked only because students, parents, caregivers, grandparents, my school administrators and I were willing to put in the work and adjust our sails. My second graders have impressed me beyond belief with their resilience and hard work. This change came so abruptly and turned their worlds upside down. Some students jumped right in, others slowly dipped in their toes, and some initially resisted. Transitions can be hard, and all of those reactions are normal.
This week our governor announced that our students will not be back on campus this year. This news hits hard, like a sucker punch were you cannot catch your breath. When I think of this reality, the tears start rolling. I tend to quickly push the thought away and focus on the here and now. My students asked if if it was true? Will they really not be back until third grade? Yes, I said that is the news. This is hard for everyone, the families, students, and teachers. We are all navigating and getting used to living a new normal.
As I give myself the space to grieve and accept the newest announcement, I am reminded of my students resilience and hard work. If they can do this, so can I, so can you. As a teacher, I am committed to teaching my students not just academics, but social and emotional skills as well. The life lessons learned through how we deal with this pandemic will carry them far.
These life lessons will carry us all far. Learning to live a new normal is not easy, but we can do this! Be safe, stay well, and stay home.