The Virus Diary: School and other thoughts...


So we had the December holiday break.  (Remember that?)  Remote learning started on January 4th.  Now we are in the middle of the month (past the middle of the month?) and it's time to go back to hybrid school.  My son is awake (barely).  I have asked him how he feels.  (He mumbles back at me.)  I fill out the form and submit.  (Seems to me it doesn't always take on the first try...I always go back and see that it says it has been submitted.)  Soon he will drag himself out of bed, get some coffee (he's a black coffee guy...I am always amazed by this) and maybe something to eat.  Then he will head to his computer for his 7:15 choir class which is always remote.

Choir has always been interesting.  They "meet" Tuesday and Thursdays at 7:15 and then Monday, Wednesday and Friday during part of the lunch break.  This did work out, but now that he's back in school I'm not sure how the lunch break thing is going to work since now there will always be remote afternoon classes after an hour and twenty minute lunch break.  On the days that he is physically IN school (when he is physically in school...the days change each week), he will have to walk home (at least 20 minutes), have lunch and then get to class.  How is choir going to work into this?  I'm not sure.  I don't think anyone's sure because as of last week the class has a new choir teacher.

Backtracking to last year.  Around this time (actually on the 10th of last year; I checked my calendar), his very pregnant choir teacher took her students to the Empire State Building where they sang.  Very cool.  Since she was due in February, there was another teacher hired for maternity leave.   At that time we all figured the choir teacher would be back in the fall.  Well, you all know what happened went virtual in March and so did choir.  (Which is extremely odd, but...)  They've been "singing." (I'll admit that I'm not 100% on how this all works, but I do hear him doing warm ups.)  Before this new school year (2020-2021), it didn't look like he could do choir as it conflicted with another class, but both teachers (the one on maternity leave and the one who took over) agreed that he could join a more advanced class without the traditional audition process.  (I'm not sure if ANYONE had to audition this year.  It was more about getting music in the lives of students.)  When autumn came around, his teacher who was on maternity leave decided not to come back for this school year (completely understandable), so he continued to have the "fill in teacher."  However... (insert plot twist here) in December SHE decided to leave and so as of last week he has a new teacher, who he has never met in person.  However, he has had his first vocal lesson with her which he said was really weird because here he is singing for someone he doesn't know and has never met.  

Today, the early morning class is starting a little late, BUT he can't stay past the assigned time because I've got to get him to school.  When students first started the hybrid plan in the fall, I was worried because of lines to get in and the time it takes to get checked in.  Today, I am not so much; seems like MOST students are remaining remote.  Which makes me wonder if I am doing the right thing.  Should I be sending him back to physical school?  Am I doing the right thing?  Ok, I don't think there IS a right thing.

Which brings me to another am I doing the right thing moment. Next Tuesday sophomores (of which my son is one) can physically go to school and take the PSAT.  I am NOT sending him in to take the test.  He did a practice version LAST year (when he was a freshman and they were actually IN SCHOOL) and he didn't do great.  Which is what I expected.  There was no preparation (which I think was the point) and he, like I, is not the best test taker.  Furthermore, I have always felt (and I'll admit that this is based on my own experience over thirty years ago), that these standardized tests are a crock of...In my opinion, they don't really show what a student truly knows.  More importantly, it doesn't show WHO the student is.  I know at some point he is going to have to take it (probably more than once), but I am really am not happy about it.

One thing that this pandemic has really changed for me is my attitude towards testing and education.  While I still want my son to get good grades (and I do harp on him about it), it has become very apparent to me that he has developed other life skills that are more important (at least in my mind) than any test grade.  I find his conversational skills to be above par and he seems to have the ability to converse with just about anyone, no matter what age.  He is beginning to show a real maturity and (dare I say it), responsibility. (Although he slides back on that at we all do.)  While the big push seems to be take the hardest classes, get the best grades and get your butt into college; I have to wonder if that's right for him.  I'm not against higher education, I just don't know if it's right for him...or right for him at this point in his life.  And that's something I NEVER thought I'd feel.

Perhaps this pandemic has taught us a few things about our educational system.  About what works and what doesn't.  It definitely reinforced in me how amazing some teachers are and how the best one are incredibly flexible (stretching even further than the Incredibles Elastigirl) and compassionate.  Flexibility and compassion are something we all need from not just our educational system, but in all walks of our lives.  I've learned it and now I need to make sure I keep it in action.



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