How We Redefined What School Means

By Laurie Lichtenstein

Our trainees remained in school every day, all year, with a remote option. The majority of went to in individual. They were organized in pods of 11-13 students and appointed to a class where they remained, as teachers took a trip to them. Each pod had a teacher who spent AM/PM homeroom, lunch and recess with them.

Or is it possible that 6 weeks into summertime break, as I sit with a view of the ocean and sip my morning coffee, I am forgetting? Or justifying? Or both?

So I offered up a couple of jigsaw puzzles which were quickly finished. When I recognized that it was demanding for me to supervise socially distanced puzzle completion, I generated 5 decks of cards and we had a tournament with the classic tween card game, Spit.

At the very same time …

My pod was efficient with their work, leaving us with plenty of disorganized time. At very first it was instructor directed, as I advised my pod to bond.

Teachers were run ragged as we crisscrossed the building, laptops open, logged into our zoom meetings to conserve a precious minute of mentor time. Some instructors taught to numerous pods remotely.

Even I played, although I lost in the very first round to hands that were much quicker then my own. The game forced them to interact with classmates they may not have otherwise extended themselves to. And it was enjoyable.

At the same time, we re-defined what school means. We were forced to slow down to keep up with the demands of the pandemic.

I dont think so. On our last sticky day in June, a number of my 8th graders sobbed and broke pandemic procedure to give each other and their teachers hugs as they left intermediate school behind. Tears are normal on the last day, but it felt like more this year.

We constructed in time for the trainees at the beginning and end of every day to decompress, arrange, and get some work done. Many of us likewise assigned less work, as we were mindful of the trainees psychological health.

Pandemic education wasnt all bad. I want to acknowledge this after a year in the trenches. Maybe finding the benefit of a tough year is just survival.

Structure community in brand-new ways

Adolescents are more most likely to engage with their phones or video games than group video games or innovative play. And school is not always an unwinded place. But when we offered them the area and the time, we also provided a valuable last run at youth, and a reminder to the grownups that school is more than scholastic pursuits– and 13 and 14 years of age are still unsophisticated.

Pretend play began, as they called the hexbugs, constructed habitats and a race course made from building and construction documents. Other pods captured wind of this and were gifted hex bugs too.

I loved enjoying trainees engage with non-academic pursuits, and one uninspiring November day I generated feedback about how we could continue to build our pod community. One trainee jokingly said we need to get a class family pet, so I purchased them hexbugs, tiny robotic toys that are a relic from their early youths.

And after that they started to direct their own downtime. They organized group games reminiscent of summer camp and homemade birthday celebrations– Murderer (not as gory as it sounds), Spoons (another card video game which as soon as in my lack ended up being plastic knives when they couldnt find the spoons), and 7-Up.

Play not only served as a stress release, it sharpened their social skills as they discovered to accept and consist of one another. Maybe like me, they in fact enjoyed the slower pace that our AM and PM extended homeroom managed them.

Play permitted them to hang on to a piece of innocence in a world that has actually forced them to compete with a crisis that they do not yet have the experience to totally comprehend or process.

Bonded by June

While they might not dance at each others wedding events, I am enthusiastic that when they see a fellow pod member go by in the halls of the high school they will extend a smile and a fist bump.For our school, and Im sure for many others, there are genuine reasons to celebrate and lessons to continue into the next academic year. We hope it will be more “normal.” I am definitely thrilled to re-claim my classroom and gain back some mentor time.

However I dont want to forget what pandemic education provided our kids– the opportunity to discover and play contentment in an unmatched time that challenged them to do so. If we discover ourselves in this scenario once again, we will have the benefit of these lessons found out.

At the same time, we re-defined what school means. My pod was efficient with their work, leaving us with plenty of disorganized time. They had at the same time developed specific roles (the cruise director, the mathematics tutor, the boy who holds the door for everybody) and a group identity (Pod 9! While they may not dance at each others wedding events, I am hopeful that when they see a fellow pod member pass by in the halls of the high school they will extend a smile and a fist bump.For our school, and Im sure for lots of others, there are genuine reasons to commemorate and lessons to bring forward into the next school year.

By June they d identified their resilience at having actually made it through the darkest days of the pandemic and acknowledged their success as 8th graders. They had actually at the same time produced specific functions (the cruise director, the math tutor, the young boy who holds the door for everyone) and a group identity (Pod 9! The Pod Olympic champions!).

Laurie Lichtenstein has actually been teaching 8th and 7th grade English and Social Studies in Westchester County, NY for more than two years. In whatever spare time she can scrounge up, she writes about education and parenting her 3 children.

They were arranged in pods of 11-13 students and designated to a classroom where they remained, as instructors traveled to them. At the very same time …