The list grew and grew, as I sat at my dining room table and jotted down all of the things I thought I needed to let my students know when we met online. One single video meeting took more prep work than I expected, much more that I really needed. It was going to be our first video meeting and I had no idea how many of my students would show up.
The longer I sat, the more my list grew. I had questions and I worried. Beside being a natural worrier, I thought about students who don't have the technology to participate... maybe 1/3 of my class. Maybe. The equity is a constant drum of concern each year, but now that schools are out and our community is on "shelter in place" orders, my hands are tied. There isn't much I can do.
My list grew, still. There is no one method to contact families, and if I truly want to make contact I need to reach out in more than one way. The best way is probably a phone call, so I called every family, but today, I also sent text messages and emails, at least to those who have email accounts. There are families with "temporary" email accounts used to register students at the start of the year. They give the impression of a method of contact. It isn't until a teacher tries to actually make contact that the "temporary" part is revealed.
My list grew more. Once I organized all of the parent contact information, I drafted an email to parents. It is a process to prepare an email. It is a process that includes sharing it with parents in two languages. Add links... my links, my partner's links, extra info. Keep it simple! I reminded myself.
No matter how much I wanted to keep it simple, my list continued to grow. There was so much on my list now, I wasn't sure where to begin, how long to wait before I shoved in the technical questions, the "teacher" questions, the reading questions, and writing questions that I so desperately wanted to ask about. I stopped and glanced at my list, a list that had now become three pages of a notebook long, and it felt so, so wrong. It wasn't hard to see that my list was much too long. It was definitely time to rethink the whole thing. I sat back, took a breath, and considered purpose. Again, I reminded myself to keep things simple. Keeping things simple is important, so I decided to narrow my focus on two simple questions:
1. What are you doing for fun?
2. What do you miss the most?
That's it. Nothing more. They need to see us. They need to know we are here for them. We need to see them smile. They need to see us smile, too. I closed my notebook with that long, long list. For now, all we need to do is reach out and be there.
I can't wait to see them.