“Artful living is an endless source of energy. It is an endless source because we are in the process of seeing and making the world anew.” The Energy To Teach, Donald Graves
On Friday, March 6, hard working, forward thinking colleagues gathered to create four weeks of modules in case of a school closure. On Monday, March 9, there were faculty meetings at each of the elementary schools for the modules to be shared with teachers and staff. We never imagined that two days later we would close indefinitely.
With the closure, parents suddenly had to share our work as teachers. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to google meet with kids and families. That first week was rough. I had a vision but no direction. I reached out via email and began a conversation about how we might share the work of teaching their child. Some families were ready at the start, while others, with who knows what else going on, needed time. I respected each families place. I believed we could and would grow in time. I believed we could share this work of teaching and learning. I believed we could and we would.
The second week things moved from rough to bumpy. Initial emails and phone conversations evolved to google meets. Seeing kids and families renewed my energy and fed my vision. If parents were ready, we worked together to set a few scheduled meets where I could support the google classroom work and or provide some targeted reading work or simply connect.
Yesterday was the beginning of week three and the google meets I had were loaded with connections, conversation.
“I got to see my whole class! We had a class party for Z’s birthday.” a second grader beamed as he shared.
“I’m going to help my dad plant a garden.” a kindergartener blurted out randomly in the middle of our meet. “What are you going to plant?” I asked. Excited to be in this conversation. “Well, ya know, he just might plant violets!” she answered. “Why would he plant violets, V?” I asked, playing along with her. “Why? Well, maybe because he loves me!” she giggled.
“I’m still reading that fat Houndsley and Catina book. Ya know, with all the stories?! Thank you for sharing it to me.” another second grader casually shared while meeting with me in her bedroom.
Connections and conversations have grown as well some partnerships around teaching and learning.
On Friday night, I received an email from a parent with two attachments. I clicked on the first attachment and read –
I clicked on the second attachment –
I read it over and over. My heart was filled and smile was wide. This mom took an experience and used it as a natural place to teach some snap words, encourage her inquisitive and creative child all while growing a writer!
In his reflection at the end of The Energy to Teach, Donald Graves writes, “Take energy from what our students bring, knowing every day that our students do learn. Let us sharpen or perceptions in order to see what they have and what our colleagues have to over.” In 2001, I’m sure he never imagined how those words could be so powerful in the midst of ever evolving distance learning.
On this final day of the March Slice of Life Challenge, I want to say thank you to all the co authors, Stacey Shubitz, Betsy Hubbard, Beth Moore, Kathleen Neagle Soklowski, Melanie Meehan, Lanny Ball, Kelsey Corter, Marina Rodriguez, Amy Ellerman, and Therapi Zaw-Kaplan for providing this space for me to find energy.
I want to say thank you to every slicer who named a feeling on any given day. Reading your words made me aware of my own feelings and thoughts. I want to say thank you to every slicer who showed up to write, even when you thought you couldn’t, you did. Reading your slices gave me a glimpse into your world, where I got to know you a bit better and we became partners in this journey as teacher writers – teacher writers who will create and define distance learning so that in the end it is an energy giver.
“It is in the giving of energy that energy returns to us.” Donald Graves