August 2020 is here, as weird as that sounds, and it’s time to start preparing for school! The aisles of Target are filled with shiny new binders, bouquets of Flair pens, and piles and piles of pencils. This time of year, I can usually be found wandering the Back To School section with my chai latte, joyfully tossing supplies into my cart, and not so quietly humming It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. But NOTHING is usual this year!
Last week, my school decided that we will be going 100% virtual for at least the first quarter of the year. The moment it was announced, my heart sank. I had already been working on lessons, mapping out concerts, setting up my pretty new planner, and starting to dream of getting back to normal. But, the dream is already over. Immediately, my head started spinning and I started constructing a list of questions that could fill an entire notebook. I feel so much fear and anxiety! The things that usually make me feel determined and purposeful, have me feeling wide-eyed and lost. This will be my twenty-first year in education… and it feels like I am a first year teacher all over again.
How on earth will I teach choir and piano through a computer? I don’t want to just turn my lessons into a Music Appreciation class. My students like to sing. They NEED to sing. My piano students don’t usually have a piano at home… so how do they learn to play? How do I make my content relevant and engaging enough that the students will want to come back whenever life is good again? How do I give them the catharsis that is found in creating music together?
What will it really be like to sit in front of a camera creating videos for students all day? (I mean, shoot… I hate watching myself on video. That’s why I am a blogger, not a YouTuber.) How many kids will really complete the work I assign anyway? Can I find a relevant way to reach out to them through GoogleMeet? Will I be able to have any meaningful interaction with the rest of the staff during the day… or will I be marooned in my big, empty classroom? How do I avoid becoming completely overwhelmed by all the technology that has surpassed everything I thought I knew?
More than anything… how do I remain a relevant encourager to my students? My entire reason for being a teacher is to help students learn to express and love themselves through song. How do I do that as a talking head?
I stinking MISS MY KIDS. (Yes, any student who becomes part of the choir family is MY kid.) I miss laughing with them… talking to them… singing with them. I miss watching their smiling faces walk through my door each day. I miss picking them up when they are down, and sharing their burdens. How will they ever remember that there is a lady who cares deeply about the safety and well being of each and every one of them?
This year, instead of notebooks, pens, and glue sticks, I am filling my cart with technology subscriptions, computer tools, and a good computer ring light. (‘Cause dang it… school light does no favors.) I am rewriting everything I know about teaching. I am planning and praying. I am doing everything I can to create a place in cyberspace that still allows my students to believe that they matter. And I am hoping upon all hope that somehow the efforts are seen and felt by these students who have been lost for quite some time now.
Want to help a teacher start over? This is a link to my Amazon Wishlist. You may not know me at all, but maybe you have a heart and a passion for students and teachers. This year has been unkind to so many people, but the school is getting left in the dust. Help #ClearTheList and make this a great school year for a bunch of amazing and worthy students. Your kindness would be greatly appreciated!
Ready or not… mostly not… here we go.