Sow There! Say hello to children and crow’s feet, Sept. 25, 2020

September 25, 2020

One day soon, maybe very soon, I will have the addition of children in my classroom. I admire everyone who has been doing their best under these circumstances, and some days I’m even pretty darn proud of myself. The biggest kudos should go to the children, who somehow understand that all of these adults are trying their best.

The statistics of the county where I work will dictate exactly when we return to class. However, I need to prepare and turn my video studio back into a classroom.

Zoom is great for meetings and family “parties” during the pandemic, but I have not yet mastered techniques to avoid online clunkiness. “Wait just a sec,” and “hold onto that thought,” are common transitional phrases as I click from document camera to screen share, then ask the children to squint into their Chromebooks.

Yet, Zoom does have some funny moments worth sharing

The beautiful button

For starters, I was starting to think maybe I had aged gracefully.

Early in the “Miss Hacking Show,” I discovered the button that says “touch up my appearance.” You betchya, I went for the magic button. Just one click and my complexion was smooth and the worry line on my forehead looked like someone has added spackle to my brow. All those “smile” lines were also gone (I don’t mind the crow’s feet, it’s a testament to how much I have laughed during this life).

One day I was washing my face in the comfort of my own bathroom. I looked tired and splotchy, and frankly years older than I thought appropriate for how I felt inside.

Then the truth settled in. I have been looking at myself each day in my classroom, through my “touch up my appearance lens,” which makes me glow as if the camera was coated with a Vaseline veneer.

I turned off the “beautiful button” now that my children will be returning soon. I don’t want them to accuse me of false advertising.

I’m the first to admit that some of the clunkiness in my classroom is due to operator error. If I was a whiz at technology I would be living in the Silicon Valley, driving a Tesla and wearing a T-shirt with a Google logo.

One day I was helping a few children in a breakout room during the snack break. I have two computers so I can monitor students while chatting privately with a small group.

I encourage the children to talk via Zoom during breaks, because they need time to socialize and, frankly, I enjoy seeing them have a chance to be kids.

It was time to start the lesson so I rang my sweet little bell, signaling that class had resumed.

The children kept chattering.

“Class-class,” I said in a cheerful, teacher tone.

More chatter.

It was time for math. Were they ignoring me?

“Class-class.”

More chatter.

Now I started to get a bit perturbed. I’m the teacher. They’re supposed to listen to the bell, listen to my cheery “class-class” and dial in for learn mode.

This went on, uncomfortably.

Had something happened while we were on break? Had they conspired to ignore me? Had I lost all control of my classroom? When is Thanksgiving break?

I used the first threat that came to my mind.

“For every minute we spend talking, you’re going to lose one minute of lunch recess.”

This, of course, is a ridiculous threat, because “recess” means my students can walk around their bedrooms or living rooms.

In any case, my lame threat did nothing to stop the chatter in the room.

After a few more panicked heartbeats, one of the children saw that my lips moving.

“Miss Hacking, I think you’re on mute,” the kind child reported.

Now I know that when I return to my main Zoom room from a breakout room, my microphone is automatically muted.

“Class-class,” I said in my cheery teacher voice.

“Yes-Yes,” they replied in some semblance of unison.

That’s right. My class is filled with helpful students and we’re all muddling through this together.

It feels like we all know each other rather well. Yet, like meeting a pen pal for the first time, there is so much more we will learn when we are together.

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