My school is set to reopen this month, so I figured I’d take some time to reflect on and savor the Zoom life while I still can. Keep in mind that my middle schoolers view me as a head in a box on their screen, as they’ve never met me in person.
Highlights: In January, after five months of remote learning, my school started requiring students to turn on their cameras in order to be marked present. Up until January, my Zoom classrooms contained 15 blank screens, and I’d keep stuffed animals nearby so I could have some sort of face to look at while teaching. Sometimes a lone, brave soul would turn on their camera, but this was not the norm. Now that the camera policy has been enacted, I’m blessed with views of my students’ ceilings and, if I'm lucky, their foreheads (full-face display is technically not part of the camera policy). I still don’t know my students’ faces, but I know that Damari’s ceiling is composed of gray tiles, and Luis has pink Christmas lights adorning his. These details are more interesting than blank screens--I’ll take what I can get.
Students send each other fun Zoom chats, such as this one: Mohamed: WOAH i just realize something Adam: 2+2=fish :) Mohamed: our teachers went to skool and are spending there life in skool bad choice Adam: not bad choice Mohamed: they became the thing that punished them Adam: their lucky. Some people work in like idk...way worst jobs Mohamed: like sewer And one quiet student recently messaged me saying he suspected I was a Russian spy because he’d never met me in person and therefore he couldn’t trust me--I could be anyone. I’ll miss the Zoom chat when we’re in person.
While I’m teaching, I get to hear my students’ siblings’ teachers giving their Zoom lessons, and sometimes even the siblings’ classmates’ siblings’ teachers giving their lessons. I thus feel I’m part of a tight-knit community of fellow Zoom educators.
The frequency of glitchiness, freezing, lagging, and robotic voices on Zoom really puts things in perspective and makes me extra appreciative of normal, uninterrupted conversations, even ones I’d otherwise not enjoy. For example, when I’m back to teaching in the building and in-person exchanges are no longer a novelty, I might get less enjoyment out of my in-person neighborly exchanges about the weather or the shared laundry room dryer that leaves clothes inexplicably smelling of salami.
Remote teaching = working in bed in pajamas (or at least PJs from the waist down), with peanut butter and toaster waffles within arm’s reach. I haven’t worked out the logistics of snacking every 20 minutes while keeping a mask on at all times, and I haven’t donned non-stretchy pants in over a year, so I’m trying to live it up while I still can!
No, but seriously...these kids deserve to express their opinions without their lagging WIFI making them sound like stoned Terminators, and I’m relieved that an end to Zoom fatigue is in sight. Most of all, I’m excited to finally meet my students in real life and see their faces...or at least the unmasked portions. Before, I was only seeing foreheads, if that, so eyes are a big deal! Hoping for noses and mouths one day too, but I’ll take it a step at a time. Regardless, I’m looking forward to being surrounded by humans instead of Zoomans.