I appreciate stillness, but I long for movement. After over a month and a half since the last semester ended, my school resumed classes at the beginning of June, and I could not be happier. I am finally doing what I came here to do again: teaching.
We were strictly online for the first two weeks. Online learning is a challenge for everyone, but it is especially difficult for the little ones. I am teaching kindergarten again this semester, and at this level, we only teach online for twenty minutes at a time. Though we did a lot of dancing and singing, it is hard to keep their attention for any longer than that. Regularly, students slept or cried through lessons. It was not an ideal format for learning, but we showed up and did our best.
We made the most of the circumstances during online classes, but I was relieved to welcome students back to school this week. In-person learning allows for a range of activities that are just not feasible in an online format. We can do crafts, group work, games. Rather that watching me wave flashcards at them through a screen, students can run to the corner of the room where I have taped the flaschards as I call out vocab words. Our lessons are more interactive, and students are more engaged.
These kids bring me an incredible amount of joy. I missed all the waves in the hallways, the sound of little feet dancing above our office. The children bring life to a school that has been empty for too long.
While it is enriching to have classrooms full of students again, there is an underlying sense of anxiety in all of us as we accept the potential consequences of such crowds during the pandemic. I spent several class periods teaching proper handwashing and COVID precautions. It pains my heart to refuse high fives from students who I know don't understand the rejection as one of safety. Still, I douse my hands in sanitizer every time I pass a dispenser. I trust that the schools made the best decision available to them. We are still careful to protect ourselves and our students.
As I begin what will likely be my last semester of teaching here, I commit to beginning everyday with gratitude for this opportunity and for every moment that I get to spend trying to make a difference.