This blog post is more of a story, and while an amusing one at times, I think that it’s also one of hope.
Today was our first full day of Remote Teaching after connecting with parents and students yesterday and finalizing our plans for the week. My teaching partner, Paula, and I ran our first meeting this morning — 9:00-10:00 with the full class — without any problems. The connection seemed a bit finicky at the end, but we made it through, and reminded children and families about our playdate at 10:30.
As all of the kids signed out, I told Paula that I needed to return a couple of emails that I got just before our morning meeting. That’s when the problems started. The Board homepage wouldn’t load. Then my email wouldn’t load. Why was nothing working? I was still in Microsoft Teams, so it couldn’t be a wifi issue … could it? I got out of Teams and tried to re-enter, but that didn’t work. Now I was feeling the stress …
- The Internet was definitely down.
- Our playdate was going to start in less than 10 minutes, and I was the only one that could let people into the meeting.
- I don’t have a Smart phone — a blog post topic in itself 🙂 — so I had no way of letting anyone know that I was having wifi issues.
It was time for some serious problem solving! During the spring shutdown, I also had a few Internet issues, and I remembered driving to my neighbourhood school and working from the parking lot. With five minutes until the start of the meeting, it was time to go. No coat. Just a purse, a laptop, headphones, and the snack and water bottle that I had on the desk beside me.
From the parking lot, I sent an email to my principal and vice principal, who happily invited me to come and work at the school. With two back-to-back meeting times, I couldn’t move there until the afternoon, and thankfully my wifi was back on by then.
The most amusing part of this car teaching anecdote is that in the middle of one of my meetings, I looked over, and the principal, Kristi, was standing at my car window with this note.
I’m going to admit that I seriously considered moving inside. It is way colder outside now than it was back in the Spring. 🙂 I even told the kids that we could go on a little field trip through the school to my new teaching location. They saw me picking up my mask to put on (under my headphones), and they were curious about what was happening. (Many were initially curious about why I was in my car. 🙂 ) But then as I got myself ready to go on the move, I realized a few things …
- I was in the middle of a meeting, and Paula was also having issues connecting due to the Cogeco problems. Who would be there to support the kids during the relocation time, especially if I lost connectivity for an extended period of time?
- I was not parked well due to my attempt to get as close to the school as possible. I would need to re-park if I was going to move inside, and I didn’t think that parking and teaching at the same time was a good idea. This is like an #AvivaArriva parking story with even more comedy than usual. 🙂
And so, while I initially opened the car door, I then closed it and got back inside. Welcome to just another adventure in teaching. With the widespread wifi issues today, I’m sure that I’m not the only one who got creative. (Hey, I did get to share a snack and some stories with some kids (during our Snack and Share Drop-In Time), which seemed like an online field trip camping adventure, so I can’t really complain about that. 🙂 )
The best part of this story though comes after I logged into the 10:30 playdate meeting. Paula was still trying to login, and I was just getting started with about five students. Then I saw a big error message: I lost my wifi connection and was booted out of the meeting. Oh no! I quickly put down my computer on the passenger seat and drove closer to the school … the location where I was at when Kristi came out with her sign. As soon as I moved, I logged back into the meeting. Before I share what I saw, take a moment here to remember that this is our first virtual playdate of the year with five kindergarteners, and at the time, no educators.
What I saw was a group of students playing together: looking at what others were making, creating with their own LEGO, blocks, car ramps, and other building materials, and even talking quietly with each other. When I went to ask one student what he was doing, another child piped in and said, “Miss Dunsiger, he made a marble run. He just showed it to us. It worked! Now I’m going to make a marble run.” This is what made my heart explode with joy and hope. For even with …
- a terrible connection,
- wifi issues, and
- a parking lot classroom,
these kids reminded me just how “competent and capable” they are. Learning happens, even when we might not be there to see it, and when we return, it will continue to happen. (And for the parents, babysitters, and older siblings that were nearby and also supported learning in different ways during this time, thank you. We’ve got each other’s backs!) This week might not be perfect, but together, we will get through it.
And if a class of four-, five-, and six-year-olds can,
- raise and lower hands,
- enter and exit meetings,
- and support each other online,
there is a lot to celebrate at the end of this wild ride of a day. What can you celebrate at the end of today? Parents, educators, administrators, and students, even if there’s just one, small positive thing to hold onto today, this small thing can give us hope. We all need — and deserve — hope right now. What makes you hopeful?