Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Sand castles

I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, 
on Tuesdays.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!

This virtual teaching, it's not unlike playing in the sand. When you build a sandcastle, it's important to keep a soft and playful heart, to be ready for the onrushing water, the unexpected wave. You might be working and working and working on something, and whoosh! it is all gone in a second. You'll be more successful if you don't hold high expectations of a specific structure, but instead, work quickly and delightedly with the time you have, between the waves. 

This is week four of virtual teaching for me. I've been getting myself into emotional knots, where I am frustrated by missed calls, lack of connection, unexpected screen freezes, time spent - time lost - getting into the weeds of challenging technology. I am so frustrated by what collaboration looks like in these circumstances, trying to think together to support individual children. I miss the feel of us all being together - seeing faces, knowing moods, being aware of what was on everyone's minds...this is so fake, so hard for me.

It was March when this crisis hit. We had accomplished so much to date, and we had a strong game plan for the remainder of the school year. Our routines were clear. We knew the kids so well. We were REALLY working on specific skills for every single child. And, whoosh! It was all gone in a second. Now, every child's success is rolled up in their own individual home situation. This means, make room for the unexpected - their access to computer and other resources, the patience and time of their family, consistency of routines, their ability to go outside, and the health of their loved ones. Every child's success is connected to us as a teaching team...we are teachers, aides, specialists in speech, behavior, occupational therapy, and more...and we need to be able to move as one, in concert with each other, in order to have the best results. Look at us now! We're trying to do this in a 'virtual environment,' which makes our team work exponentially more difficult. We, too, have issues with access and adeptness with the computer and other resources, our ability to self-motivate, being consistent and timely in our interactions, all mixed in with worrying about our health and that of our loved ones.

That last paragraph illuminates my anxious thinking, how I am spiraling.

I'm making too complicated a structure, too complex a sand castle.

Today, I calmed myself by thinking of the parallels of this virtual teaching experience with playing in the sand. As a child, I loved being at the beach, building sand castles with my brothers. We worked alongside one another, each of us building madly and passionately, with an eye to the larger plan. Though we shared ideas, none of us was really 'in charge.'  We worked simply, quickly. Yes, a big wave was likely, but we created what we could, despite it. We created over and over and over again. There's my mindfulness message of the day - let go of the extras, hone in on what matters, work joyfully, and make a space for the water that is most definitely still to come.

Work quickly and delightedly with the time you have, between the waves.


  1. Things change in the blink of an eye. This pandemic is a prime example. I am sure there are many frustrated teachers out there as well as frustrated students and parents because this is not the norm. This whole thing is teaching us to work between the waves making the best of what we have before the next wave comes crashing down.

    1. Oh, yes, there is frustration all around, whether teacher, student, or parent. We'll get through it! Thanks for commenting.

  2. I do agree w/ the need to hone in on what matters most in teaching, and it seems to me fostering connection and showing students you see them and hear them matters most. I suspect online teaching is harder for lower grade levels. Students are so dependent on others for help.

  3. Let your light shine. Be a source of strength and courage. Share your wisdom. Radiate love.” Wilferd Peterson

    Teaching with your heart, as you do and as you describe, this lesson too is learned by your pre-schoolers. Thanks to you & team for your teaching.