As the third graders filtered in to our virtual science class, I said, first to one, then four, then ten, then twelve, to get their whiteboard and marker, and if not then get some paper and a pencil or anything to write. Hoping for no pink or yellow markers that my eyes couldn’t see. Hoping that those just sitting passively actually had their materials right beside them, just out of sight of the camera, and wouldn’t be jumping up to go find something halfway through the third question.
As most had joined and I was typing the names of the remaining few into the search bar to “join” us, I am fill-talking and I say that this is our last class of this unit. Finally, we will review what we know about weather and climate. And next week, I say, we can start on our new unit- the history of life on Earth, and how we know about extinct species from the fossil record.
Jack jumps on it. Just as I am ready to actually start the weather and climate “review” (read friendly assessment), Jack starts waxing eloquent. I stifle annoyance as he blurts out, forgetting to raise his actual hand in his rectangle on the screen or his yellow virtual hand either. Then my annoyance shifts as he seems to fill the frame; I notice his gesturing hands, his brown eyes sparkle through the screen. I start to smile and I jot down his words:
I just love a new unit! It’s sort of like all these doors are locked. But then one door gets unlocked and its like inside there’s this huge science center, and you get to go look around and explore and learn all sorts of new things…
My grinchy heart stirred. I was taken back to college when I felt just that way signing up for new classes from the big course catalog, THAT I GOT TO CHOOSE. I felt that way with each new-born child. I felt that way traveling on an airplane to a country on the other side of the Earth.
Not only that, he is feeling this way during VIRTUAL SCIENCE INSTRUCTION. Pause and think on that- no lab, only kitchen-supply investigations, so many things are wrong with this picture BUT HE GETS THE JOY.
So, I am sharing this very small moment to remind me, you, all of us…
It’s 2021 and it’s messy, but we’ve still got it.
WE HAVE THE KEY.