Over 50 days were spent in person as a teacher assistant in the first grade and now the week after Thanksgiving, all staff and students are remote, taking an adaptive pause, as they call it, in our district. Students are at home while staff are still in their perspective classrooms, offices, and conference rooms. We meet and greet on our devices, some more complex than others, but everyone agrees on one thing; it’s weird. Even though some students have been remote since the first day of school, it can be unsettling having a building not filled with students even those with masks and social distancing. They did a great job with that and are adjusting well remotely. Once again, they are successful with new challenges. They are children! What is the commonly used adjective to describe most of them? Resilient!
However, we have experienced the occasional child’s tear wanting to know when all of this will be over. Teacher assistants are diligently learning Google Meets and other computer applications. Though we don’t have the same intense responsibilities as the teachers, it is, once again, a new experience, a new schedule and ultimately, a new destination. We, too, have experienced the occasional adult tear. What this pandemic has truly taught all of us is how much we miss the physical presence of children. That eye-to-eye connection or sharing that moment where we surprise them with a whispered wonderful as we oversee their work on their desk or gracefully catch a mistake. Yes, we can see it on Seesaw when they take a sometimes blurred photo, but it is not the same.
I was worried; afraid that my own diminished computer skills would interfere in providing student expectations. Then one of my scheduled students online surprised me by doing an excellent job with sight words. We had more time available in our session which I had not planned so I grabbed a book near me called Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld. Stick and Stone is a beautiful book about friendship and that day we loved reading it together. He was so excited when I mentioned that the copy I had was his best friend’s book. He told me that he was Stone and his friend was Stick. He was actually able to read with me.
Now, I am on a mission to select all sorts of books and practice reading to a screen. I know they especially love the books by Mo Willems like The Pigeon Has to go School. Many have talked about the Elf on the Shelf and their Elves arriving at their home.
I am going to research now……….or what about?????? And I am also learning how to surprise them online and make comments they don’t expect. I can do this…….we can do this! Once again, each day, I am constantly reminded of our teachers dedication, enthusiasm and ability to problem solve and provide solutions. They, too, are just as resilent as their students.