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We are Thankful for…Virtual Learning.

Virtual Learning is not everyone's cup of tea. Whether I'm in public or on social media, I hear people harping about Virtual Learning:

“This is ridiculous!”

“My child hasn’t learned anything.”

I quietly sit back, because I have nothing to offer to the conversation. Virtual Learning for my family is golden. Please don’t mistake “golden” for “perfect,” because we run into a few glitches here and there. I know this may not be the case for everyone, but overall…..We’re THANKFUL it!

Each child has a study area in their room equipped with a desk and chair. They have their SCS devices, dry erase boards, pencils, paper, and textbooks/workbooks. Sometimes, they sit at their desk; other times, they lie on their bellies while engaging in the lesson. Since the teacher is okay with that, I guess I’ll be too.

Virtual Learning

Their schedules are pretty dope, too. They don’t have to wake up as early to get ready for school. They eat breakfast and do their morning chores. By 7:45am, they are ready to login. They are in class from 8am - 3pm with various breaks and asynchronous learning. My elementary babies have a 15 minute snack break and an hour for recess and lunch. Sometimes during lunch, the teacher stays online to “have lunch” with the kids who want to. It’s the cutest thing! A bunch of 2nd graders all sharing random stuff over a meal. My middle schooler has mini-breaks between each class, as well as a 45 min lunch break.

They have become technology pros! My kids are animating, typing or using text-to-speech, and navigating through SCS platforms like TEAMS and Clever with ease. Virtual Learning has also given my kids an excellent sense of time. In the past, I would say, “You need to read for 20 minutes.” They would look at me quizzically and ask, “Sooooo, what time do I stop reading? Like... what are the numbers that will be on the microwave.” They did not have a true understanding of the quantifiable passing of time. Sometimes 5 mins would feel like 45 mins for them. (Depending on what I asked them to do.) Now, when their teachers say, “Take a 15 minute break,” they check the time, do a little calculating, and know what time they must be back in class. 

Now for all of you who believe, “The only kids enjoying virtual learning must be socially awkward, because my social butterfly is dying.” Listen carefully…. my kids are extremely social. They have been to more places and engaged with more people than some adults who have lived in Memphis their whole life. Sure they’re not going over their friends' houses (Hello...COVID), but they are not isolated either. We still enjoy places like the Zoo, Imagination Playcenter, The Art Project and Nerd Alert. When they meet other kids while we’re out, they speak and interact as much as 6 ft will allow. And YES, these social butterflies are thriving while doing Virtual Learning.

Did I mention that I’m an educator, too? Yes, I log in at 7:45am to begin teaching my classes. I also help with Tech Support at my school, so my days are FULL! My day usually ends at 4:30pm. I don’t work from home everyday. On the days I work from home, I see the kids in passing during school hours. The kids do what they’re supposed to do, when they are supposed to do it. (Integrity is one of my 52 pet-peeves.)

The glitch? The twins are very noisy when they are on a break, at recess, or during lunch. Their natural voice volume is loud. So I am constantly telling them, “Just because you’re on a break, doesn’t mean all of us are.” Another glitch? My 2nd grade girl using the posts function in TEAMS like her social media page. She talks a lot in-person and she talks a lot virtually. Not sure we can fix that. 

On the days I physically go to work, my elderly Uncle watches the kids. My Uncle is of the age where too much technology is witchcraft, so he can’t help the kids at all when it comes to anything on the computer. He watches his “pictures,” known to the rest of the world as tv shows, while the kids engage in their learning.

At the end of every day, usually after dinner, my husband and I check the kids’ devices to see what they have worked on for that day. It is way better than those raggedy folders that used to come home with missing papers and sticky stuff. We can see what the students are currently working on and can intervene if they are having trouble with an assignment. Sometimes the kids don’t know what they don’t know until they get an F on an assignment. Class Notebook on TEAMS prevents this for us.

My middle schooler has taken the initiative to email his teachers when he has questions about his assignments, projects, or something he didn’t understand during class. And you know what? THEY RESPOND. HE is in constant communication with his educators. HE has taken ownership of his OWN education and knows that his teachers are just the starting point to his education. He’s finally a knowledge-seeker! He NEVER plans on going back to in-person school...ever! (I see a challenge in the very distant future.)

I understand that Virtual Learning is not easy or convenient for everyone, but for my family it works. And we are THANKFUL!

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