The Silver Lining of Virtual Learning

It’s true.  There is nothing like walking down the long hallway at Impact | PSE to Room 9, hearing “Are you ready? Are you ready? We’re always ready!” booming from classrooms,high fiving scholars as I pass them on my way. There is nothing like circulating around my classroom during independent work time as scholars urgently find evidence to support their claim. There is nothing like being immersed in Circle on Fridays, listening to each other’s stories and growing together. There, truly, is nothing better than when a scholar gives another scholar a shout out for exhibiting an Impact Commitment during the day. 

COVID-19 has created a new reality. One where in-person school is impossible, but where learning and community-building certainly isn’t. I’ve really enjoyed finding the silver linings during this time and here’s what I’ve discovered: virtual one-to-one teaching is positively impacting  scholars’ trajectories and our distance has served to magnified moments of joy. 

Nyah (name has been changed to protect student privacy)  was adding numbers like this: 7 + 5 = 75. I was working with her family on this before school closures, but having flexible instructional  time allowed us to all be on video chat together. I was able to teach Nyah, while teaching her mom how to support Nyah. Nyah’s mom has worked so hard every day to help Nyah practice and now, she is not only able to add big numbers accurately (such as 253 + 65), but she’s able to easily represent adding multiple groups. This type of individual attention to scholars who need to grow the most has been my favorite silver lining in teaching remotely. Seeing families work their hardest to support their children has been inspiring and has motivated me when being away from kids gets really hard. Each of my families has gone above and beyond to set up work spaces, encourage scholars to complete Lexia minutes, and celebrate their children for working hard. It is moving to be a part of a community where parents rally behind their scholars in the way our parents do. 

Reading with some of my scholars in small groups has brought so much joy to my life, particularly when we get to give shout outs at the end of our time together. We give shout outs all the time in class, but the shout outs during remote learning have been thoughtful and brilliant; like the impact of each shout out is magnified because we are so far away.

At the end of our time together on Thursday, Esrom gave a shout out to Aliyah and Mikko for the commitment of “be accountable” when they stuck with our meeting even when  technology wasn’t working perfectly. Zoey gave a shout out to Janna for the commitment of “be engaged” for taking her time to sound out words. Aliyah gave a shout out to the team for the value of “be kind” for encouraging her when she felt stuck. These little nuggets of joy highlight the culture our scholars have created at school and the beams of light they are for each other always.

This time is, of course, challenging. I know that our community is feeling so much sadness with school being closed. It’s hard to not all be together. And yet, there are so many opportunities to use this time for learning and community. 

I feel grateful to be in an organization that is creating real opportunities for our scholars to learn and grow while away from school and I can’t wait to be together again.