Remote Learning Goodbyes: Covid-19 Teaching Diary Day 60

There are just two days left of the school year. Two days left of remote teaching and learning. I have learned to let go of control of so many things. But I am determined to contact every student possible, and say goodbye.

There will be no pizza party or cake this year. I won't hold up old anchor charts, faded by the sun, and ask, "Who wants to take this home?" as I try to clean up our classroom. There won't be a chorus of voices, and a garden of small hands shooting up. I always loved the way the kids wanted to take a little piece of the classroom home with them, even if it was a chart that said, "How do I choose a just right book?" or "Good mathematicians draw models."

I was in my classroom today for the first time since March. The snake plant was surprisingly happy, despite going months without water. I didn't really know what I was there to do. There wasn't clean up to do in the traditional sense. But I don't know if/when I'll be back, so I gathered my most valuable belongings, and went home without really saying goodbye to the space.

There were nine kids on today's closing circle call in the afternoon. It struck me that this number didn't faze me at first. I remembered back to my first days of remote learning and the deep distress and anxiety I felt logging in, and seeing so few students. It saddened me that I had become numb to this. Almost three-fourths of my students did not log in, and that is now normal.
Girl, Balloon, Composing, Child, Heart, Innocent, Love
Meanwhile, I've been attempting these one on one conversations. If you haven't ever experienced a one on one video call with a third grader, I'll tell you that it can feel a bit awkward. I'm not always as focused or present on video calls as I am in person. This feels true for my students as well. They're wiggly and distracted by television screens or other stimuli.

Still, the conversations have felt worthwhile. So far I've connected with a little more than half of my third graders. I am coming to terms that I won't be able to reach all of them. I won't ever get to say goodbye to these kids. But for the kids I reach, the effort has felt rewarding.

"The end of the year is almost here. How are you feeling?"

"What are you looking forward to?"

"Are you excited for fourth grade?"

"Do you have any questions?"

I don't follow a strict script, other than to try to check in, see how kids are feeling and what's on their hearts and minds. I cannot wrap my head around what this year has felt like for them. From an academic standpoint I have felt disappointed and frustrated at times, but stepping back, I know that they have shown nothing less than heroic resilience.

"I want to thank you for being my student. It was really great being your teacher this year."

There has been so much beyond my control this year. The summer and next school year are just giant question marks right now.

All I can do, all I want to do, is to provide a few words of kindness and appreciation for my students before the year is over. If the year ends, and they know - truly and genuinely - that I care for them from the bottom of my heart, that feels like an ending I can celebrate.


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