Biblio Files is our new blog written by TKA Librarian, Laurel Durham. Our purpose is to Inspire, Educate, and Entertain as she shares insights from her experiences as a wife, mother, and educator, to name a few.
Our Common Situation
We are now four weeks into this distance learning thing and I think we can all agree it is not easy. When it all started, I will confess, I had a lot of anxiety. Only, it was about everything BUT schooling my own children. I was homeschooled for most of elementary school. My parents are both teachers. I work in education. If there was anything I was going to rock, it was going to be “school”. We would get up on time every day. We would do crafts and read and do all the enrichment activities (and then some)! I had this idyllic picture of the girls working away on their school work while I did all the virtual-super-librarian things beside them. The school part, of all this, was going to be just fine!
Four-Week-In-Me laughs and laughs at Past-Me’s naivete! I mean, I was homeschooled, my parents are both teachers, I work in education! What in the world was I thinking?! I totally knew better! Just…what?!
What Can We Do?
So (insert sarcastic voice here), in the interest of sharing my vast knowledge from this four week experience, I have a list of things I think will be super helpful for all of us as we soldier on to May! See, it’s really important to set up procedures and guidelines in your “classroom”. This helps you build the right culture so you can optimize your students’ learning. Teachers know this. We spend the first part of the school year doing this. Here is what I have learned to require of my students, so far.
DISTANCE LEARNING GUIDELINES
- Students must wear pants at all times. Especially during Zoom meetings. Even if they are wearing a super long nightgown.
- The instructor may not be asked math questions before she has consumed at least two cups of coffee. Otherwise, students run the risk of being told 11+7=19.
- Focus is important. If we are doing math, we do not need to talk about why gerbils are underrated. Or argue about whether cats or dogs are better. Or read the copyright of our math paper and spend time wondering who Nancy Larson is.
- Zoom meetings are important. We will set alarms on every device because days and times all run together and it is too easy to look at the clock and realize we’re forty minutes late because we still had twenty minutes to go five seconds ago!?!
- “The floor is not a trash can. When has that ever been okay?!”
- “Wait, do you write like that for your teacher? I can’t even read that. Is it an e or a c?!”
- “Oh my goodness, I just need to get something done! Go outside, seriously, we’ll finish this later! I completely love you, I just need some space right now!”
Some Final Thoughts
In all seriousness, whatever your situation looks like, this is hard because it’s hard. We love our kids. We are intelligent people. There is nothing wrong with us because we are having trouble. In my house, we’re calling this Crisis Learning because we are all in varying degrees of crisis and we are all learning. Me, too. I’m learning to let go and give grace to my children and myself. I’m learning that what worked one day may not work the next because our feelings are so fluid and ever-changing right now. I’m learning it is possible to grieve and be thankful at the same time. I’m learning that we are so small and God is so big. I’m learning how important creativity is and how all those things that I put on a back burner because they seem so impractical (things like painting and gardening and crafting and reading) are the things that are making it easier for me to breathe right now. I’m learning that essential and non-essential look a lot different than I thought (in my own life and in the world). I’m learning to slow down and try to listen to the “still small voice,” (1 Kings 19:12). I’m learning that learning isn’t mastery and it’s all still very much a process.
We are not perfect. We will not come through this and be perfect. When we go back to “normal” (whatever that looks like) we will still struggle and fail and get impatient and forget and be utterly blind sometimes. Maybe some days we’ll be less, though, because of our experience. Maybe we’ll be less impatient. Less blind. Less forgetful. And maybe, some days…some moments, we’ll be more. More grateful. More creative. More peaceful. More empathetic. More gracious. Maybe we’ll “abide” more, like Jesus talked about in John 15. Maybe we’ll be more…holy (2 Timothy 1:9).