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
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 next...school 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 times...as 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