COVID-19 Teaching Diary Day 9: Finding a Rhythm

Today I began to feel like I was finding a rhythm. The routine I've created for myself has been really valuable. I'm hoping the predictability is good for the kids too.

We start each day with morning meeting at 8:20 am. I've realized that a number of kids are sleeping in. I had originally thought most kids are early risers, but I see now there's a range. Still, I wanted to stick to the 8:20 start to match our school start time and offer some semblance of continuity.

During morning meeting we check in using the mood meter, we recite our POWER pledge, review the goals for the day, and during April I'm sharing a poem each day. I hope to get the kids to bring in poems to share as well. April 1st we read Shel Silverstein's "Messy Room" and today we read "April Rain Song" by Langston Hughes.
Langston Hughes, “April Rain Song” (A Sea of Quotes) | April rain ...

Before the pandemic (this is a surreal phrase I guess I'll have to get used to writing/saying) we dubbed Thursdays, Thankful Thursday. So today we shared a person in our lives that we're thankful for. It was definitely a positive way to start the day. Our third graders expressed gratitude for little brothers and sisters, for moms, teachers, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I mostly consider the "instruction" I'm attempting at this point a placeholder until I can get a better handle on remote pedagogy. For now though, the consistent times for my video calls seem to be paying off. Today I had four or five kids on each call, which brought my total kids taught to a new high. I was especially excited because today I saw two kids for the first time, and three kids who hadn't joined a call for a few days. It brought a lot of relief and happiness to see their faces.

Remote teaching is obviously presenting a lot of challenges. Some of these are funny (if not always in the moment). Today I uttered some new phrases as a teacher. "Can you please turn off the TV?" and "I think maybe you should put on a t-shirt."

After my last lesson I spent about an hour or so coaching two third graders through Google Hangouts and Google Classroom. It is a process that requires a lot of patience. I hope they are starting to get the hang of it though. I cannot begin to imagine how teachers and kids in the younger grades are navigating this crisis.

As I work to get more kids online, I hope I can succeed a bit more efficiently. At this pace, it will take eight more school days to get to 100%. By then some of those kids will have lost three weeks of school. It's hard for me to even wrap my head around that, but it makes me sad.

For now, I am trying to focus on what I can control. I'm trying to keep providing predictability for my students, and building community as much as possible. Tomorrow we're going to try out "Fancy Friday" (last week was Pajama Friday). I could tell some of the kids are really excited to dress up. I hope to keep cultivating this spirit of fun, playfulness, and community as we move into a scary and unknown future.


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