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August 26, 2020

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We were SO lucky in the spring. My daughter’s teacher gave an option of about 5 projects each week. Each covered multiple curricular areas and the students could choose which one they wanted. They had an online math program to use and a book they were all reading. They’d have two class meet-ups at the beginning and end of the week and I heard them playing games like scattergories and sharing about their weekends. They’d have at least one small group meet-up during the week and I believe she had online “office hours” too. It was pretty darn awesome and the kids were still learning and connecting. She was in grade 7 so obviously the kids were more independent than younger grades. But what the teacher did well, and what the school really encouraged, was putting connecting with kids and meeting their social/emotional needs at the centre and realizing that not as many curricular boxes would be checked. I wish every place would do this. I’m sorry it’s been so stressful on Stella. I’ll be hoping that her teacher and all the people higher up lighten up and that lets everyone slow down and adapt to the current craziness.

I have no advice to give, merely sympathy and appreciation.

I am one of the probably many anonymous readers who follow you via RSS feed, who look to you for not only inspiration (ha, she says; that sounds more lofty than is meant) but confirmation that I, too, am not the only one struggling and facing challenges.

I am facing covid with a 3 year old starting preschool and a 5 year old starting Kinder. Thank you, thank you, thank you - for being a voice of reason, for being the voice of understandable and considerate doubt, for understanding that this is hard for all yet voicing the fears none of us dare utter aloud, for letting me laugh at the ridiculous.

You are both an inspiration -- in the most literal sense of the word, in someone who lets me breathe without feeling like it's an imposition -- and a fellow-in-arms, and both are very welcome. I read your posts and value them; you are valued, immensely, by an internet stranger, and please God continue being you because you make being me that much easier.

Thank you, for your honesty and your willingness to be you on the internet. It is intensely valued and appreciated.

At the beginning of this year before everyone was catapulted into distance learning Bella started taking some online classes via Homeschool Connections and she loves them. They usually allow students to log in 15 or 20 minutes before the teacher begins the class and they are able to have some social time. They can also send text messages to each other as well as interact directly with the teacher. Bella's taken a couple of Shakespeare classes where she's got to act out scenes with classmates, a literature class where she did a project and where there was a lot of group discussion and some small group work.

It's been fascinating to me to sit back and watch the sudden shift everyone has had to make and to see the difference between classes that were designed from the beginning to take place in an online format vs teachers who are trying to adapt on the fly.

While it's never going to be a great fit for everyone, distance learning can be done well. It's frustrating that it's being done so poorly in so many cases. Not that I blame the teachers. They're doing their best in a situation they had no preparation and training for. But it would perhaps be nice if somehow schools could connect with and emulate outfits like Homeschool Connections which has clearly figured out how to do it well.

I tip my hats off to you, parents of virtual learners. I think you and your 11 yo have earned the right to be just a tad grumpy.

I'm feeling grateful that my district decided that 4K through Grade 2 could be in-person. They're making plans for virtual learning, in the likely event of a shutdown, and I'm...not interested.

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