“There’s a certain comfort that comes from knowing a fact. The sun is up in the sky. There’s nothing you can say that’s going to change that. You can’t say, ‘The sun’s not up there. There’s no sky.’”
As told to The New York Times in 2020 by the late, great Alex Trebek, facts are things that we can rely on. They don’t change. The guesswork is taken out of the equation when we deal with the facts.
Up until the middle of March 2020, it was a fact that any given school day or school year was deeply rooted in the logistics of the workings of an elementary school’s expected and predictable operations, which wove into the fabric of such days and years, and were set in place as we moved from moment to moment.
After mid-March of last year, the comforts of such facts and certainties, at least for now, are no longer so predictable. At any given moment, we could need to revamp what, where, when and how things are to be taught, learned and delivered.
As was the case during my November and December article submissions, I gleaned answers to these questions from my students. The topic around which those answers were derived had to do exclusively with the climate that COVID-19 brought to the educational system around that time.
This month’s article is similar to those of the prior two months, but this one has a bit of a different feel — that being students’ thoughts in regard to their time home, while engaging in remote learning for two weeks, after Christmas break.
Knowing what very well could be inevitable at any given moment for us, that being a shift to remote learning, we did much to prepare for this time, while our students learned from home and our faculty taught from our classrooms, as we used Zoom to meet up with them and teach.
Twenty-seven out of my 28 students participated this time around!
My questions, three of them this run, focused on each student’s experience from their vantage point while at home.
The three questions I asked and they responded to were:
1. What did you feel you were most successful at during your time at home, while you were engaging in remote learning and not in school?
2. Please complete the statement: If we ever go back to remote learning at home, I sure hope that ...
3. What was the most difficult thing for you to do while at home during remote learning?
Answering the first question, Victoria told me that she felt more successful staying focused so she wouldn’t fall behind, while Railynn was happy that she finished her work early every day. Aislyn was pleased that she had paid attention a lot and did well answering assignment questions. Sophia believed that she was successful in part because she didn’t have to wait until 2 p.m. to ready herself to leave for home. Teddy was proud to say that during this time, he was successful not only doing his work, but making sure his family was safe. Ty and Evalyn were just plain proud of everything they did! Elise was nervous at first, and then became happy, because she knew what to do after all! Additionally, Finn succeeded being at home working with his family, and Avriana, along with Max, felt successful that their work didn’t give them any stressors, while Cadence and CJ echoed so many other sentiments of also feeling accomplished, since completing their activities at home was the goal that was achieved!
While answering question No. 2, Liam, Izzie and Jake agreed that they would not want to be out of school for too long, if they had to go back to remote learning at home. Maddy hopes it will be easier the second time around, although she breezed right through it the first time, and Zulmy hopes to continue to be able to finish her work and continue on the Zooms successfully like she did the first time. Aaden and Mason agree that they just want to come back shortly after their possible remote learning adventures, if a second round becomes imminent.
In answering question No. 3, Shea and Emma agreed that keeping up with the schedule and being sure they were on time for the Zoom meetings were demanding, but they did it all indeed! Devon actually wanted to begin an hour earlier than the remote school day began, while Jack and Kelly found it more difficult to get work done and pay attention while not in school, but so too did they rise to the occasion and get it all done and done well! Alexis and Alexia both missed their teachers very much and found that to be the most difficult thing about not being in school.
A big “thank you!” goes out to my students, who helped me write this article. It is a fact, no doubt, that every single one of these kids are my biggest little heroes just as much as (if I may again quote Alex Trebek) “the sun is up in the sky, and there’s nothing you can say that’s going to change that.”
Lynn Cheche Baker is currently a third-grade teacher within the Weedsport Central School District and is the owner and instructor of the Successful Steps Tutoring Service in Auburn. She can be reached at (315) 253-0750.