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With a Straight Face

July 19, 2021 pm31 1:28 pm

It happens every year, in every class, lots of times. I’ll get a question. It might be silly, or off topic. Maybe it is irrelevant. And instead of saying “that is off topic” “silly” “irrelevant” I tease. I give a fabulous answer. And outrageous answer. A ridiculous answer. How old am I? As if it mattered. 89. With a straight face. Wait, no? That’s not true! And I keep a straight face. Well, almost straight, as a smirk elbows its way into the corners of my mouth. And they make a fuss and laugh, and so do I, and we move on.

I taught last Tuesday. In a room. With kids. Rising 9th graders. Our Discovery Program.

It was great teaching in a room. I got to respond to questions. I tailored discussion to things kids said. No cameras were on. No cameras were off. The kids were just THERE. I could see their reactions. Sort of. I could see who understood well, who wasn’t following, who was distracted. I could generate excitement. I could play kids’ answers off of each other. It was teaching. I had missed it.

It was mildly not-so-comfortable teaching in a mask. But it was ok. And it interfered, somewhat, with reading kids’ faces. That’s a real issue. But still much better than little boxes on the zoom screen.

When I signed up for Discovery I missed some things. A few kids are remote. It does mean I have to have a screen on. I wasn’t so happy about that. But it was minor, and only happens in one of the two sections. And I don’t know all the stories, but one is a local kid who has to babysit for her family – and she’ll be a good student. I understand the necessity. Also, teachers are assigning work on Google Classroom. I completely stressed out when I heard that. I went along with it… but I’ve shifted to collecting work, on paper, in person, as much as possible. I really want to get as far away from March ’20 – June ’21 as I can, as soon as I can.

Anyhow, it was fun being in class, and at the board (even though this room has white boards instead of chalk). And I got to listen to the answers, and to encourage good thinking, even when it wasn’t completely correct, and gently correct quick thinking that was way off course.

And then I got a silly question, and I gave an outrageous answer. These kids never had me before, so they weren’t expecting me to make stuff up. And my straight face, and then my almost straight face, were hidden by my mask. My shtick flopped.

Much better than Zoom. But still, one of my favorite parts is still missing.

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