Back-to-School always meant September—in some places, August—but it’s come to have new meaning, like so many things, now. The 100% virtual academy kids, a parallel program in which I am the English Language Arts teacher, did begin in September. Everyone was virtual at that point, but the students were divided. These students had committed to remaining online.

But “my” kids would have an opportunity to either recommit to remaining virtual or rejoining their in-person peers at the change of each marking period. The ebb of 100% online has been considerable as confidence rises in the community—all good.

My eighth grade group started at three but has, as of Monday, dissolved. My seventh grade group began at eight and is now at nine. The sixth grade group, my wonderful six who had been with me through it all, I learned on Sunday night, would be reduced to a pair of girls.

The kids that left were the shining stars, brilliant and verbal, game for anything, leveling up every discussion. Several times I’d introduce something that I’d been reviewing with the seventh grade, and the sixth graders would grasp it far better despite their unfamiliarity. Oh, I ended my day with them, and they saved many a prior class I’d rued.

What would Monday be like without them? One of the students who remains is the kindest, dearest kid; her heart is a beautiful thing. She does struggle with the nuts and bolts though: reading comprehension, writing grammar and mechanics. I was so glad she was still with me.

The other, a smiley face whenever she turned on her camera, hardly ever participated. Fortunately, I confer with the kids every day, so if technology on her end was accommodating, (and that was a BIG “if”), we did chat about her books and her writing. But I worried…what would it be like in this tutor-tutee type situation—only the three of us?

SHE SHOWS UP! She turns on her camera. When the tech gets glitchy, she resets and returns. She smiles and contributes. She tells stories and shares insight—impressive awareness. What happened to that little girl about whom I wondered if she were actually with us at times, if she’d taken a walk outside during our Meet?

Note to Self: As wonderful as it is to have those bright and brilliant stars lighting the firmament, there are other stars too, just waiting to shine, waiting for a space to illuminate, their space, their light. As we say goodbye yesterday she asks, “Ms. Emerson, may I share my poem tomorrow? I wanted to wait until I’d finished it.” A shining moment.

6 thoughts on “Enlightenment”

  1. This year, our district theme is “There’s always a silver lining.” – this post reminds me that even with the challenges that we are facing, there are silver linings. Thanks for capturing and sharing this one.

  2. Such a bittersweet post. I am headed the opposite direction. We go back mid April. I stay with the same kids, but I will meet some kids in person. The rest will stay online. Families need to make the decision by Monday and I am waiting to see the results, to know who I will get to see masked face to face.

    1. I hear you—and think of you often as we share this age! The live streaming thing, I truly don’t know how teachers pull it off.

  3. Love this. What a good reminder that sometimes don’t contribute not because they have nothing to say but because they are a bit shy. The bright shining stars tend to draw their light and energy, but oh how these stars shine when they are the only ones in the sky.

    1. Exactly! I am sad to see the others go, I loved them, but so happy for this young lady. I never would’ve seen her shine.

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