Every time I try to organize my makeshift office in our dining room, I spend half the time taking a trip down memory lane. In a school box there was our school yearbook in an envelope. I have been quarantining the mail for a couple of days when I get it from the mailboxes. We live in apartments and my hyper vigilance is up. There are about 40 mailboxes in one area and half our neighbors still don't wear mask even though it is required in California. So I quarantine and disinfect our mail.
Even still, I let this year's school year book sit in the envelope a little longer. I didn't want to look at it for a while. I wasn't ready to grieve the school year yet. When the schools were closed in California teachers had no notice other than a form letter stating basically, 'hey, you will be distance teaching now and with that start making paper packets because most students in the district don't have internet access.' We didn't get to say goodby to our students, etc. It was an abrupt shift, but a necessary one.
On some levels, I was relieved that I would not be returning. Not because of my students. They were the joy that remind me of why I love to teach. However, all the other bureaucratic stuff. There were also a couple of teacher bullies that I worked with. It was like sorority hazing. I used to be in a sorority so I know. Needless to say, no one has time for that pettiness. We have children to teach.
Flipping through the pages of colorful photos I smiled as a look at my students' faces. All the teacher/admin pettiness that would bring me to tears was now in the rear window. I looked at our fun spirit day photos. I am one of the teachers who goes all out for spirit days. I used to teach art. Hence, any chance I can get to express myself creatively I jump at. It was fun to see some of the activities that we did over the course of the year. Collaborating with our awesome occupational therapist and doing Geometry Gingerbread Houses with my students with special needs was one of my favorite activities this school year. I love those light bulb moments when you see joy in learning!!
As a closed this school year's year book, I thought about the upcoming school year. I will be teaching virtual school online. The last couple of months I was distance teaching as well. For some of the students who did not have computer access I was checking in with my students and their families via phone meetings. In a couple of weeks I will meet my new students online. I thought about school community. What will that look like virtually? There will be no brick and mortar this school year. How can I cultivate those fun times like crazy hair day and pajama day via an online platform? It isn't the same as on pajama day when I show my students with special needs how to build a fort, but perhaps although it is different it can still be wonderful. Here's to building a fun and engaging virtual school culture for our kiddos!!