I focused a lot on procedures and getting to know you type of activities the first week. This second week I was really intentional with teaching the students how to utilize some of the things at our disposal for virtual learning. We practiced the breakout rooms and team talk procedures, we learned how to use Google Keep, we talked about the face-to-face tutoring option coming up and went over the at home reading requirements.
It was a great few days. They are really coming along with procedures and getting more used to the online environment. On Wednesday we did a reading activity to practice the breakout rooms and talking to their group (which is SO AWKWARD for so many of them so definitely necessary to practice with something much less high stakes). I had a student let me know his Zoom kept disappearing when he was going to Google Classroom. This matters because he was trying to see what I was doing and follow me in Google Classroom but realized that his setup wasn't great. So I offered to stay on with him a few minutes after our class ended to help. Several other students stayed to see how to do it too.
It bothers me a ton when I hear other people assuming the kids know how to do this virtual thing. We had such poor attendance and participation in the spring because we weren't allowed to really hold them accountable. Now that we are doing the live Zooms, it is so important that we listen to them about what THEIR needs are and help them to navigate this system. Yes, they have all used their Chromebooks before but they haven't had to simultaneously use Zoom and have Google open and potentially their email and blah blah. It's new for them. I have had to learn a lot about how to really keep things on my screen so I can best serve my kids during this time as well.
I think one of my favorite things so far is that the students really are showing me and each other grace. Much moreso than I think would be happening if we were in traditional school; so many Americans are selfish people who only really think about themselves (I mean, there is a reason why we have "Karens") and it's heartening to see these young people really step up and be kind. Not only to me when something on my end stops working but also to each other. I really feel like they have come to appreciate school in a way they didn't before; it's their haven and they do miss it.
People constantly make comments to me about how "it takes a special person to teach middle school." It makes me kind of sad and mad at the same time. I love these kids. I want them to have the best future they can possibly have. Someone has to believe in them. I will volunteer as tribute. <3