If you know the song by The Knack that rhymes with “corona”, you’ll get the pun, and now you probably have the song stuck in your head substituting “Corona” for “Sharona.” Sorry about that. This virus, too, is hard to get out of our heads. We are inundated with information (and non-information) about this Covid-19 thing. Every news feed on my phone. Just about every channel on TV. Every podcast in my feed (including this one).
My Corona began on March 13, a Friday, no less. We left school about 95 percent, sure that this would be our last school day for a while. That was later confirmed with an “all call” to the entire school district community, the now familiar, blah, blah, blah, blah, abundance of precaution speech. I can’t lie; a BIG part of me was happy. Yay! Early summer! Uhh, not so fast.
The following Monday, we were seated in the multi-purpose room in seats set six feet apart. The principal shared the district’s vision of the expectations for continuing the school year online. We visited our classrooms, grabbed what we needed, locked up our cupboards, and went home to figure out how to translate our classroom lessons into Internet-accessible ones.
Ay-ay-ay, was right! The first two weeks were madness. Seemed like I was working 24 hours a day. When work invades your home, the two become somehow indistinguishable. Do some laundry. Type an assignment. Walk the dog. Answer emails. Cook dinner. Play the piano. Grade some papers. FaceTime with family. You get the idea.
Posting the work wasn’t too bad, and our students were already familiar with how to use Chromebooks and all things Google. But what was difficult was managing the seemingly constant barrage of texts, emails, GroupMe, and Remind messages coming from every which way. Keeping up with the grading work the students were turning in proved very time-consuming, as grading online actually requires an extraordinary number of clicks and waiting for pages to load. With everyone suddenly on the Internet gobbling up bandwidth, that wait could sometimes run at a snail’s pace. Zoom Meetings took the place of staff meetings, planning time with departments, conferencing with students, troubleshooting tech with teachers, and committee meetings. Okay, I admit, there have been a few virtual Zoom “happy hours” with friends for the purpose of maintaining one’s sanity in isolation. By the end of the evening, my eyes were definitely suffering from an overabundance of disruptive blue light.
We were supposed to return at the end of our spring break, April 13 (funny, another 13!), but that was pushed back to May 1st, and finally, the idea of returning to school was canceled altogether, which seemed logical as I didn’t see the Corona Virus magically disappearing on a particular date. I heard some schools have canceled the year, relieving teachers of the duty of attempting to provide an education by a means few of us have been trained to do.
This is NOT online teaching. We haven’t had time to develop courses with distance learning in mind. That’s a whole other ball game. We have many students who are not participating for a variety of reasons out of our control, so we cannot hold them accountable for any assignments they fail to do. The lessons that come from face-to-face interactions in real-time cannot be duplicated, no matter how many video Zooms take place. The ability for a teacher to walk around the room and gauge student understanding or stop by the desk of one who is struggling is unavailable. The best we can hope for is the maintenance of skills, practice in organization, and responsibility. But what will be interesting is to see how this experience will change the way we teach once we return to our classrooms. Will teachers finally receive the credit and respectability we so deserve? From parent’s comments online, it certainly seems so. Many are having issues getting their own children to work. Now, can they imagine doing that with a class of 38?
So what really is “My Corona?” It’s an appreciation for the students who are trying and the parents who are helping them. The sense of community and the value I feel towards my colleagues. It’s actually really talking to people rather than texting them. It is valuing the fact that I’m still healthy, that my kids are, my family is. It’s seeing that some places on Earth are less polluted (albeit temporarily??) It’s spending time doing things I’ve been putting off, like playing the piano, painting, learning Photoshop, and working on the podcast. It’s sleeping in and taking naps. Binge-watching too many TV shows and not caring. I don’t have to put on make-up or get out of my sweatpants. I’m sure this feeling is the same for many people.
I don’t know when this whole thing will end, but it will eventually. I hope when that time comes, I’ve made use of this “gift” and won’t take for granted the many things I did before I was stashed away in my home. I hope the world is kinder and more connected, as we are all going through this together ( a long shot, but it’s good to err on the side of optimism).
So let’s all virtually join hands, click below, and Kumbaya a song together. You know how to change the lyrics now.