One thing I heard over and over when we began remote learning—first for a few days here and there in the fall, and then in December—was parents expressing amazement at how much more responsible and independent their children were during remote learning this year.
It’s strange that we have this point of comparison. Whoever would have thought that remote learning would be a thing any of us were doing? And when we went home in March, we thought it would be for two weeks… perhaps four… And now here we are, comparing remote schooling experiences across a six-month span.
Having the opportunity to go into remote learning, and back out, and then back in makes a difference to the way we understand it. It no longer feels unknown and catastrophic in the same way. Our class had a chance to build connections and routines for thirteen whole weeks together in the fall. I know I understand the possibilities of online learning better now than I did in March (though I still don’t like it).
But also, six months is a long time when you’re eight years old. When parents in my classroom tell me they’re surprised by how much better an online learning day went this year, I think so much of the credit goes to the students. They’re older than they were six months ago and more mature. They’ve done this before. And they rise to the occasion incredibly. Every time I log on to a call, my students are full of news about how many assignments they’ve completed, what fun twists they put on the word problems they had to write or the maps they drew, the strange instruments they invent and play alone in their rooms… It’s wonderful to get to teach them in person, and there’s so much that we can do together that we can’t do in the same way remotely. But I see my students’ creativity, motivation, and growth so clearly through these computer screens. I’m in awe of them.