I have been teaching remotely for a week now and to be honest, I hate it. Some may think that teachers have it easy (I mean there are no kids in the classroom right?), but those kids are where we find our joy, our energy, and our purpose. Not being near them has been heartbreaking.
Teachers aren’t celebrating that holidays may come early. Teachers are grieving. They are grieving the loss of laughter and the chance to sit and talk with their students. They are grieving the loss of lessons already planned, units of work and excursions that they now need to reshape and reconfigure. They are grieving the physicality and the busyness of their job as they are now confined to their desks checking emails all day long. Add this to the anxiety around their colleagues and own families health and the confusing government messages. It is exhausting.
As I float on unchartered waters I, like many other teachers across the globe, will find ways to breathe joy into our sails in the hope that this will lead us back home. Following on from a series of blog posts I wrote a few years back titled Forty Pieces of Teaching Joy, I would like to begin a similar series on Remote Teaching Joy. However, I have to be honest. I am struggling to find 40 this week, in fact it would be easier to make a list of what hasn't brought me joy, but I am hoping the number increases as we settle into this new and strange way of being. It is important that we search for joy wherever we can find it.
Twenty One Pieces of Remote Teaching Joy
1.Packing up take home learning kits for my students gave me an opportunity to try and brighten their day. I sent home reading books which I picked out individually for them, I packed survival kits and I left hidden positive messages on post-it notes throughout their folder. I imagine my students smiling as they discover them and this brings me joy.
3. It takes me 30 seconds to get to work instead of an hour.
4. My students were meant to be hosting a large Harmony Day event last Friday. They had been working on creating a Harmony Day Exhibition as part of this gathering. Unfortunately we had to call it off. That didn’t stop me though! I hung their works and took a photo. I placed it on social media and asked people to provide positive feedback on the students work. Our own virtual exhibition! The comments came flooding in and I was able to share them with my students throughout the week. So much joy! (And yes, Tupac is in the corner - don't ask!)
What a wonderful display, both the visual and written text. Well done everyone! I enjoyed this.👏Such an inspiring collection of work about people who have made an impact on the world.... there is greatness in us all in some way. 🌺
Fortunately I got to see these and they are great very impressive work
What a great use of art, research and text! An eye catching display and important information!
It doesn't matter that you can't read the writing. The artwork is so good it's obvious who they are. These leaders showed great qualities that we all need reminding of at the moment, bravery being the one that comes to mind first! Thank you!
That’s a fantastic wall of inspiration ! Thanks for sharing your artistic skills :-)
I think it’s fantastic work, well done all
A truly wonderful display. Well done everyone. 👏👏👏
What an amazing amount of work for a truly impressive collection. I’m sure your students will be
inspirational people that others may draw and research in the future.
Great pieces of work. I have not heard of Tupac so may need to listen to some of his work. I would like to know more about the one that has a panther or jaguar over him.
5. This email from my boss -" Before I get started on tomorrow’s schedule, I just wanted to say a few words to you all. It has been quite hectic the past week and I have thought some things regularly but didn’t get a chance to say them. The way that you have all adapted to our new circumstance and gone above and beyond to ensure that the young people are still cared for and educated is something that has to be seen to be believed. There was no panic, but rather a measured response that has given our young people the best chance of getting through this crisis on track to get their ROSA and in a good place with their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. The next days, weeks and months are going to be challenging for us all and we all know that the young people are going to struggle. We will continue to adapt and will learn as we go. The way we are doing things in a week may be completely different to what we have planned now. I know one thing though, we have the team to work through any problem and we will always do whatever we can to get the best result for the young people. Anyway, that’s enough from me, but just take that as a massive thank you for all your efforts this past week."
6. I can hug my own daughters whenever I want and need to during the day.
7. My students are reluctant readers. I have been making videos of me reading their reading tasks to stuff animals. Sounds silly I know, but I was inspired by this principal. When on the phone to one student this week she mentioned that she stopped work when she saw the reading task.
“I ain’t reading all that”, she said.
“I knew you wouldn’t and that is why you can go to youtube and hear me reading it to a giant dog”, I replied.
“Really?”, she responded so enthusiastically that I thought she was going to cry.
She sent me her work an hour later. Grateful for technology.
8. I have a coffee machine at home and I can make coffee whenever I want.
9. We decided to have virtual theme days with daily challenges for the kids. Wednesday was our first theme day – Wear Your Pyjamas to School Day. The challenge was for students to send a photo of themselves to the group in their workspace wearing their favourite pjs. Five minutes after sending the morning email we receive this response...“I don't even wear pj's."
“PLEASE DO NOT SEND A PHOTO”, we quickly reply.
10. I challenged them to a remote delivery dance challenge inspired by this video which made me smile this week. I am currently hoping they are spending all week choreographing their videos :)
11. I began one email to the group with the term Whazzup?. One student replied, "She said wazzup im dead bro😂😂😂. " He is now sending me daily email starters such as whats goodie lads and doin der ma bahs. Which is apparently not rude… or so he tells me.
12. I rang in to check on a student. He answered joyfully and started to tell me he had been working on Maths with my boss. He then tells me he has put the boss on hold. I suggest he continue his maths session with my boss, but he says, "Nah. He can just listen to the music while I speak with you."
13. I sent disposable cameras home for a photo journalism project we have begun remotely. Not all my students have access to phones so, being creative and trying to engage them, I thought disposable cameras would be a good alternative. I placed the camera in their learning packs and sent them home with instructions and a link to an online video of me showing them how to operate it. They were excited to find cameras in their packs but the problem was none of them read the instructions.
I received this email – "How do you take the photo out of the camera". Oh man!
Then another from a different student read, “Where can I get a new camera?”
“Why would you need a new camera?”, I replied.
“I smashed it trying to get the photo out.”
I responded by sending an emergency email to the whole group titled DISPOSABLE CAMERA. It highlighted that they needed the camera for their assessment so must read the instructions for use. One student wrote back, "Me and charlie sorta we're on facetime going through the bags and took like 10 photos each lmaoo”. Oh man!
14. Thursday Theme Day was more successful. We hosted Bring Your Pet to School Day. Joyful pictures of animals came flooding through. And then there was this one….
16. I suggested to students that we start a school choir after watching this celebration of joy. Their response was underwhelming but I will try again next week.
17. Friday fun day included a meme challenge. Students were asked to create a meme showing what it was like to work from home. Here are some of the results:
18. I can now hang my washing on the line at lunch time.
19. We have been ringing every student in my school everyday. We divide and conquer the list as a staff. Hearing their voices brighten when you say who is calling has really been the highlight of my week.
20. The challenges of the week bringing our staff team closer together.
21. Sending snail mail to each of my students on Friday afternoon.
I hope these moments bring some joy to other teachers out there. Please feel free to share your moments of Remote Teaching Joy with me. I would love to include them in my blog. For now, rest up. We have another challenging week ahead.