Today my five year old granddaughter was here. She and her three year old brother helped me make and eat a batch of pancakes, then we all decorated my house for Halloween.
After a few more games and a light lunch of dry cereal (their choice, not mine!), Ellie got ready for her remote kindergarten class.
The school district where Ellie is enrolled, and where her Mom is a teacher, has given families the option of a hybrid school year or a fully remote year. Neither choice seemed perfect leading into the fall, and neither seemed to offer everything that Ellie should have in her first school experience.
But given the uncertainties of the pandemic, and our fear/belief that all schools will be shut down for remote learning by the time flu season emerges, Ellie’s parents decided to have her go remote.
Today I got to see remote kindergarten learning first hand, and I am overwhelmed with relief and admiration.
I should add here that I have been watching a fair amount of C-Span over the past few months. I have watched countless elected officials, media personalities and famous faces struggling to manage Zoom calls and remote meetings. I can’t even count the number of times I have heard Congressional hearings interrupted by “Senator, please unmute. Senator?” I’ve even seen the Supreme Court held up as one Justice or another struggled to find the “video on” button.
But today I watched a group of five year olds and a young teacher engaging in play, sharing ideas, learning about shapes and letters, and having movement breaks. Every one of the kids was attentive and happy to be there. Our Ellie was glowing with pleasure as she interacted with her “friends”.
The kids can handle it. They are resilient, flexible and open. They think this is the coolest adventure.
And the teachers?
Holy God, these people are heroes. Absolute freakin’ heroes.
In a mere six months, the entire educational system has been rebooted, restructured and reorganized. Everything that teachers once held dear, from cooperative learning to small group instruction, has been turned on its head.
It has all been rebuilt, and these dedicated, loving educators have just shrugged and put on their PPE and learned how to do everything differently.
I am in awe.
I am humbled by the courage of the teachers who are in those classrooms, and the ones who are teaching groups of kids they have never met in person. I can’t imagine the pressure of trying to control behavior, foster friendships, teach academics and monitor progress all through the fuzzy lens of Zoom or Google Classroom. I can’t begin to understand what it feels like to be in a room with kids you can’t hug, or lean close to, or put into working pairs. I don’t even want to think about trying to hold the attention of 10 or 15 antsy children in a cold classroom with open windows, and all while wearing a mask.
But they are doing it. The kids are embracing it all. The teachers are doing what teachers have always done. All of them are adjusting to this new life, finding the humor in it and moving along like always.
Everything will be OK. Because the kids are going to make it OK. And the teachers are going to help them.