Distance Learning Lesson No. 1

My school district is currently in distance learning. We have experienced it once before, but there is still much to learn. And I have a feeling the most important lessons will have little to do with academics. Oh, those will be woven in and out, but they will not be the lasting thread. No, the final fabric will be found in the simple attempts to cover the distance.

Distance…I do not like that word. It implies being away from family, friends, and now students. This is hard to explain to children, especially when we cannot see the ending.

I have been busy creating music activities to share. Students can access the lessons online. For the first one, I added a twenty-second voice recording-a short greeting with some basic instructions. Not a big deal…I thought.

These lessons also had a response page for students to share their favorite part of the story from this lesson. One precious kindergarten girl recorded her response. Her message was confusing at first.

“My favorite part was when she said I love you guys!” Hmmm, that was not part of this story. And then it hit me-she was talking about my twenty-second voice recording. At the end of the message, I said, “I miss and love you guys! Bye!”

Such a simple thing, I thought. Until this little voice spoke it back to me.

So, my first distance learning lesson? One phrase spoken from the heart covers more distance than any music lesson I could ever create.

Bittersweet

One of my main goals in writing is getting emotions on paper. I often find it hard to say aloud how I feel. However, if I can physically write down the words spinning in my head, it often brings a sense of release. Today, there may be too many emotions…

Our district made the difficult decision to transition to distance learning for the remainder of this semester. The announcement brought an initial sigh of relief. Teaching during a pandemic is challenging, to say the least. Stress levels have been increasing daily.

Yet, even during the struggle, there have been moments of light. Experiencing the joy of music with students-watching lightbulbs turn on. Being part of a loving, supportive staff that is always saying, “We are in this together!”

Nevertheless, here I am today. This is the last day for students this semester. I have already had conversations with older students this morning-a questioning look in their eyes-my attempt to assure them everything will be ok. Even one of my quietest students called out my name in the hallway, “Hi, Mrs. Morris,” followed by a big hug. They know…

There are no easy answers. The relief that accompanied the decision quickly mingled with a sense of sadness. So, today I smiled and listened. We danced the Reindeer Pokey and did body percussion to Jingle Bells. I reminded them that I love them and that we will be together again soon. And that it is ok to be sad because that is when we can show our love for each other.

The following visual from Taya Oelze’s kindergarten class says it best! You might want to zoom in! 😉

How to help friends who are sad. ❤

Zoom!

Raise your hand if you’ve been in a Zoom meeting this week! If I had to guess, probably more than one. Teachers in our district are zooming in, making plans for distance learning. I’ve been part of several over the last few days.

It is nice to see familiar faces and catch up. It is also a great space for brainstorming and sharing ideas. It can also be a little overwhelming.

One thing keeps making me laugh. Every time I see or hear the word Zoom or get an invite to a Zoom, I have flashbacks to my childhood. Anyone else?

The show Zoom dates back to the 1970s. It has nothing to do with online video conferencing. Or does it?

I loved watching this show as a kid. I remember it being informational yet entertaining. It was kids talking to kids.

Today I decided to look it up and see what information I could find. Here are some of the lyrics to the original opening song:

       Come on and zoom, zoom, zoom-a-zoom
       You’ve gotta zoom-a-zoom-a-zoom-a-zoom
       Come on give it a try
       We’re gonna show you why
       We’re gonna teach you to fly high
       Come on and Zoom!
       Come on and Zoom Zoom!

Watch the opening scene. There is music, dancing, introductions. And at one point, a screen full of faces. A diverse group of kids, working together to teach as many kids as they can reach, about all kinds of things. Sounds a little familiar.

Think about it. This idea of distance learning is new for most of us. We have different levels of comfort concerning technology. Yet, we all have knowledge worth sharing.

So, here we are, coming together, Zooming through this process together. Learning from each other as we go.

I’m pretty sure these kids set a good example for us to follow. https://youtu.be/F7gzHLKT5g4