Thursday, March 26, 2020

SOL20 Slice #26: Recalibrating

I am participating in the
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2020.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!

I remember, years ago, taking a drive with my husband and tween-age son to investigate a new interstate that had just opened, after years of delays and construction setbacks. It was designed to be more environmentally friendly, and we were curious to see it. We turned on our dashboard's GPS device, and made our way to the new route. When we turned onto the new highway, the GPS went wild - the 'gal inside' began stammering "recalibrating! recalibrating." The GPS had not been updated for this new highway, and from its perspective, the road did not exist. Perhaps it imagined we were driving quite fast over fields and across creeks. Lady GPS threw one command after another, "Turn left onto, make a u-turn, take the next...", as she tried valiantly to get us back onto familiar terrain. We laughed so hard at this GPS voice, and its confusion. I wondered, geez, if she cares so much about us, shouldn't she send some rescue vehicles? Well, she didn't care, of course, because she was simply a computer, detached and unfeeling, following the codes she had been given. If you don't want to listen to the GPS voice, you simply turn it off.

With this virtual learning, we have entered into a whole new world of communication and collaboration. In a way, we are all becoming computers - our communication can be stopped, started, sequenced as needed. 

It's a whole new world for team work. How do you connect deeply in this artificial framework? 

I guess I am in mourning.

I am trying to get used to not seeing my families every day, as they drop off and pick up their preschoolers. I miss all those little 'in the moment' conversations that revealed so much, and created such a loving, caring bond between all of us. I am trying to imagine what my preschoolers' day is even like, logging on to video read-alouds, pre-recorded morning meetings, and links to lessons. Ugh. 

I am grateful that this pandemic is happening in an age of so many virtual opportunities, such as "Zoom," and "Google Hangout," but the coordination and planning is challenging. One needs to think many steps ahead, and accept the 'waiting' and the disconnects.

I am trying to get used to not seeing my colleagues' faces, and not getting those visual cues as to what's on their minds, how they are feeling. I am trying to get excited about potential topics and opportunities, to brainstorm in this new reality, and I have to do this without human connection. Of course, the whole notion of accountability has changed, too. We're not showing up for a normal teaching shift...we actually have "office hours," and we have to collaborate without being physically together.  We're all at different places in terms of maturity, professionalism, emotional response to the pandemic itself, and ability to self-motivate. 

When you think about it -
No one has to answer the cell phone.
The number flashes on the screen, alerting you to who is there.
The text tells you it's her.
You can answer or ignore, deal with it now, deal with it later, or delete it entirely.
Everything is on Google Drive, ready for you to look at it, review, edit, whenever you please. Nothing really has to be done together.
Unless you choose to do so.

Everything is slowed down. Everything is stalled. My neighbor shared how he had to go to his office to work on something proprietary, something that he was not permitted to take home as work. He gave colleagues a heads up that he was going in to work very early, and he did what needed doing, carefully working all by himself. Hours later, perhaps even the next day, his supervisor came in to review the work he had done, and he, too, worked carefully, all by himself; then my neighbor was told that the work was ready for his additional input. So, my neighbor will be heading back to the office. At a separate time, of course. Alone.

We are all recalibrating.


  1. The metaphor of the GPS recalibrating is perfect for what is happening in education right now. All the issues you mention are true, and I can’t help but wonder how children—especially the very young ones—feel sitting down to the computer w/out a beloved teacher. It’s all so very sad.

    1. It is certainly a stressful time for teachers, administrators, and parents, trying to figure this out on the fly, in the immediate. Very strange times!

  2. I feel the recalibrating in such a physical way. I am not minding the zoom with families because I actually find them very focused - they can't pull out their phones and text because - hey - that's how we are communicating. But I'm not seeing the children as much. And I really miss seeing my colleagues!!

    1. Yes! Zoom is great, because it keeps us honest with one another. Yes, I am missing my colleagues and my kids.