It was the last day of school in 2020 and my students were in breakout rooms finishing up a group quiz on quadrilaterals. Class was nearly over, and they were free to log off and head to their next class as soon as they pressed “Submit”.
I noticed one breakout room had only two students in it, which was odd as students were placed in groups of four. Why were these two finishing the quiz without the help of their groupmates? I popped in to see what was going on.
I saw two of my students looking relaxed and comfortable on their screens. “Where are the others?” I said, with some accusation. “They left,” replied the remaining students, without any of the indignation warranted by the situation. Maybe I could help them find their anger: “Why aren’t they helping you finish?” I was not prepared for the answer.
“Oh, we’re done. We already submitted.”
It took me a moment to re-process the situation. “So, why are you still here?”
“We’re just hanging out,” they said. “We’re using your breakout room to talk.” Suddenly I felt like a nosy parent in my own Zoom meeting.
One of my biggest concerns at the start of this year was how we would build connections in remote learning. I’m trying my best, but the culture and social dynamic of our classroom is nothing like it would be in person. In evaluating this aspect of my work, I don’t feel like a success.
But to see my students take a moment after class to socialize made me a feel a little better. After twenty minutes of arguing about squares and rhombuses, they wanted to connect a bit more. And they found a way. Perhaps we all will.
Why are you still here?
‹ Does every language have an alphabet? What about abjads and abugidas — not to mention syllabaries?