Sue Clark: My year of distance teaching
“Good morning, Trinity! All I can see is your cat’s derriere. Oh, there you are. I guess you’re the first one in class today. Always a bit awkward, right? Um, how was your weekend? Just makin’ small talk. Would you like to see my dog? Here he is. Oh, here’s Victor; I’ll admit him.”
“Hi, Victor! How is your job at Raley’s? I saw you there, and it was so good to see one of my students in person. Did you hear me holler at you to do your English homework? You did? Good. I will continue to embarrass you when I can. You’re saving for car insurance and repairs, right? Oh, it’s in the shop? Sorry to hear. Do your homework and one day you will have a new car.”
“OK, good, here are most of the students. Hi, everyone. Hey, five of you aren’t on video. I need to see you. Let me see your faces. Come on, you know how I miss you. What? Trinity got bumped off? OK, I will admit her again.“
“Ronald, if you are looking down at your lap and laughing, I am guessing you are texting. Busted.”
“Yuba! Yuba, I need to see your smiling face to be happy in the morning. Nope, your dad told me your video does work.”
“What was that? Sandy, your Wi-Fi is being weird? OK, but jump in when you can. You, too, Creek? Are you both sure? Don’t worry about how you look. I pinned my own video and about fainted. I look like a floating skull. I am sure you all have the glow of youth. Yes, I have been growing out my hair. No salon for a year.”
“OK, let’s get this party started. Yuba: For the last time, don’t make an old teacher cry. Show me that smiling face. Ah … thank you. That makes me happy. You always cheer me up.”
“Let’s go to the agenda for today. I’ll just share my screen here. Why do I keep saying that? You all know when I share my screen. Anyway, first of all, some housekeeping.”
“Turn in ’MacBeth’ and pick up ’To Kill A Mockingbird.’ Yes, Cedar? Well, that is a good point. Many fine works of literature are gloomy. Not sure why. We could add ’All’s Well That Ends Well’ later. Oh, you feel Shakespeare was an old white man and you can’t relate? Welp, prepare to relate to Harper Lee, and yes I know she was ultimately not as non-racist as we had thought. I like to think I’m woke, but if you think you’re woke, you’re not.”
“Here is your morning question: What is something you’ll never again take for granted after the pandemic? Take a few minutes. Mine is being able to hug my granddaughter. How about you?”
“I cannot teach to empty squares. I need to see your faces.”
“Now for your homework: I want you to turn in your reports on Google Slides. I don’t know how you do that, but Ocean does. Email him, is that OK, Ocean? Oh, you all know how to make slides? OK. Can you edit each other’s slides? You can? And Ocean will show me how? Great.”
“So what do you appreciate that you never thought of before? Can I read your answers? Oh, everyone can see each other’s already? OK. Well here are a few more of mine: I will appreciate being in the classroom, watching your body language and hearing your silly comments shouted out freely in class. I will never take that for granted again. I miss putting you into study groups instead of screwing up the breakout rooms on Zoom. I miss dancing around the class if I want to and watching you roll your eyes. I miss you.”
“Sunny! I can only see your forehead. And seriously, how many dogs and cats are attending my lesson? Oh, I give up. Just everyone show me your pets.”
Sue Clark lives in Grass Valley. The names of her students are fictional to “protect the innocent.”
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In most of the United Sates, people take water for granted. In the West, we take it from somebody else.