Today as we continue to adjust to the "new normal" of COVID-19 and its impact on or lives I was in my classroom waiting for students to come and pick up their left behind things. Last night I sent out a message to my students,
Ok Parents, So I don't know exactly what this new journey we are all on is going to look like yet and more will get figured out in the days to come but I did want to write a quick note. One thing that I have told the kids all year and for some of your kids for 3 years now is in my class "we read and we write" it is that simple. I don't intend on that changing. I do know however that not everyone has access to books at home and with the Library closing as well over this time I wanted to extend an opportunity for students to borrow from my classroom library if needed. Tomorrow when you are scheduled to come to pick up student supplies from lockers I have many of their Notebooks that I would like them to grab. If they might need a book or 2 (that I will hope to get back in September or earlier fingers crossed) they will be able to borrow and I will write it down so I can get them back when we return. If you have any questions please let me know, if anyone in the family is unwell please don't come. We can figure out alternative arrangments to get their notebooks to them. Let's all make sure we are washing our hands and keeping our social distance :) ~Brent
So today as I sat waiting I wondered how many students would actually come in before this remote teaching experiment begins. We had the day set in chunks to keep the numbers down as we are try to abide by the suggested gathering size and I have built a desk wall to establish my own Social Distancing comfort zone. What a world.
I received an email from a student that simply read, "Can I get some books?" My response was equally simple, "Yup"
She arrived, left with some great ones, The Next Great Paulie Fink, Internment, The Serpent King and Let Me Hear a Rhyme. I have read two and asked her to let me know how the other two were. As she left she gave me a note. I opened it,
Clearly I read it and my first thought was that I would be demanding to teach Grade 10 LA but my secondary thought was how much this small act of kindness meant to me. This is a stressful time for everyone. Kids and adults alike are scared, worried, nervous, questioning, unsure of what is going to come next. As teachers we have the added concern right now of trying to do what is best for our kids in this time of uncertainty. What will "instruction" look like? How does one assess work that we do not see our students complete and yet is turned in? More importantly though when do we get to laugh together? When do we get to joyously share our books or our writing? I am not sure what that is going to look like but I do plan on figuring it out. I want my students to feel assured. I want them to feel seen, to know that I get it, I am worried too but we will do everything we can to keep things as normal as we can. We will continue to read and write. But I to take a minute and write a letter to my students in the vein of the letter I recieved.
Dear Students of Room 157:
This has been a year. We started out strong and kept pushing until the day we were told we needed to take a break. I understand the fear, the worry, the uncertainty and I want you to know I see you and I am here for you, to help you with your work, to discuss great books and to share in a joy of literacy. I also want you to know that I will miss the laughter. I will miss the moments where we just talk about nonsense and try to figure out how it fits into a lesson. I will miss your excited discussions around sports, or books, or whatever other topic that has whipped you into a frenzy. I will miss the bravado that the boys brought in after big wins on the court and the grace that the girls always gave them even with a roll of the eyes. I will miss talking books in person, that excited whisper that so often takes me off task (I know you use this to your advantage, but I have also used it to mine). I will miss you all.
But here is the thing, we are all going to get through this. There will be moments when things get a lot worse and then things will get better. We are going to have to dig deep to keep the learning going in these uncharted waters but I believe more than anything that you can do it. You are a special group my students of Room 157. We have overcome things together already and we will overcome this.
My favourite book is Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book the Jungle Book like tale of self discover set in the graveyard and Nobody Owens raised by ghosts and a Vampire named Silas. I love the work of Neil Gaiman and I feel this quote sums things up perfectly.
This point in time might not be a fairytale but I do know that you are all capable of overcoming this dragon.
These next few weeks and months as we try and make sense of the current COVID-19 influenced world of education give yourselves some grace, parents, teachers and students. Take a breath, practice some yoga (in isolation), read plenty of great books and write. Because in the end a simple truth remains. In room 157 we read and we write.
On we go.