How can I provide them shelter and support via Zoom?

This blog is supposed to be about Room 112. But we aren’t there. I am in my dining room, and my kids are in their homes, and now I am in their homes too. The paradox of remote instruction is that I am both inside their homes and disconnected from them like never before.

I am no stranger to my student’s lives outside of school. As a coach’s wife I have made many a late night run through our housing projects, our section 8 apartment complexes, our historically low-socio economic communities- places a middle aged white lady shouldn’t usually find herself after 10:00 on a Friday night. But what I realized is I never went inside.

After 1,000 pick ups, carpools, delivieries, and phone calls, the closest I get is their drive way, I rarely get out of the car. I know which stop signs not to stop at after dark, I know to take my sun glasses off during the daytime, I know why the police officer is following me out of the neighboord, and I know on which streets I am welcome and which streets I am not. I didn’t think there was anything worse than dropping a player off at home where his parting words were “Thanks Mrs. Wright, now don’t forget NO stopping at the stop sign just get on out of here.” It is incredibly hard to smile, and wave, and leave a student standing in that yard.

In our classrooms, we can talk and support. We can quietly pass supplies, and add their names to that secret list of amazing students who need some support that exist in every school in America. But I have them for 88 minutes, we can take the weight of the world off their shoulders and let them just be a kid for 88 minutes. I don’t have that tool anymore.

How can I provide them shelter and support via Zoom?

She is alone. He is taking care of a sick parent. The landlord raised the rent again. I don’t think the water is on. He said he is worried they can’t pay the next power bill.

How many more stories can my teacher friends hear before they begin to struggle with the weight?

She cried when we spoke on the phone. I am taking him a meal and some snacks today. Will you ride with me to the trailer park to deliver food? Has anyone heard from __________. It looked like she has lost 15 founds when we WebEx. Hey, do you have a relationship with Coach J, can you expain what he is dealing with?

My informal text message group of amazing teachers are still holding on, but for how long? We have six more weeks of this remote instruction. Today I wonder, why? Why is so hard for these dear kids, and why can’t we lighten their load? What can I provide them through this lense of remoteness? Can I penetrate this digital barrier and find a way to lighten their load?

And now, I shall take a deep breath – find my own resilience and figure out how to do just that with the talented people I work with.

Published by MaryClair Wright

High School Computer Science Teacher in Alabama.

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