Two days before school started, I learned that I would be a first grade distance learning teacher. Needless to say, my world was rocked. I knew how to be a classroom teacher. I knew how to build a community. I knew the curriculum. I did not know about doing all of these things online, through a computer.
Those early days were rough. We were all finding our way…better yet, creating our way. There was so much learning and planning on all ends. Simple tasks like handing out an assignment had to be rethought. How would we make this work? I remember taking out the calendar and counting the number of weeks we had left. At that time, there were 41 weeks of school left. That number felt crippling.
Like clockwork, the kids showed up right on time every morning, eager for the day ahead. They quickly connected and looked forward to spending time together. New friends joined fluidly, always sending me into a frenzy of making sure our newest member would have everything they needed to find success in this unusual world we had found ourselves in. Kids also left, ready to go back to school.
A few weeks ago, another member of our shrinking community decided to go back to school. His mom called a bit frazzled. “He said he can’t go without his warm wishes.”
Warm wishes was a tradition we had created. We used Google Slides to create a wish for every departing member of our class, sending them wishes for their journey back to school. I was touched that this small gesture mattered.
This has been a year like no other. Through it all, we made our own way. We made our own traditions and rituals. We built a community. It is possible.