Two months ago we started a national effort to school students from home. Each state, perhaps even each district, dealt with this transition differently. I could not be prouder of my colleagues or my students for rising to meet this challenge head on with the full intention to keep our school community together. Twice a week I meet with all my students, through google meets, additional emails and individual meetings and phone calls. They have learned, I have learned, and swiftly we adapted to a digital forum. As a teacher of reading and writing, I have been privy to the inner thoughts and reflections of many students during this unprecedented time. They are experiencing a topsy-turvy new day to day of sheltering with all its crazy chaotic difficult challenges, yet still continue to show up digitally and wow me. Tonight, I thought I’d share some of their voices, their hopes and dreams, and everyday afternoons.
There are starts and stops at every transition. Like when Winter is slowly colliding into a Spring that turns frozen again. We, in the quiet Northeast, are used to such chaos from our skies. One day we run about in tees and another it’s back into the parka. There is a steady plodding onwards, and general acceptance of what must be will be. Perhaps that is why Vermonters are all cool with so many personal differences through the decades. And perhaps this is why so many of us are sitting tight while COVID19 runs its course. We know how to stay active through long months of difficult weather conditions right inside our own space, plus we got an upward vision that allows us to dream of what is almost here.
For several years we have lived on this same street, the one I’ve driven mostly at the speed limit. Except for the occasional weekend run up and back down the adjacent dirt road, during this shelter in place time, I’ve been walking this street and all about in my neighborhood, a lot. My new favorite jaunt is a 3.5 mile loop that for a section of that distance I pass by open water. It’s a shallow, in spots reedy and swampy pond, but right now, the sight of the wind rippling across it is heaven. In March, when we first began the stay at home order, the pond was broadly covered by ice but under a cloudy or blue sky this expanse was everything wonderful to see even while frozen and stagnant and filled me with enough joy to navigate another challenging day.
The whole world is Twitter mad once again, and even though I hold the platform at arm’s length, it is hard not to be obsessively scrolling over the tweets bouncing back and forth like discordant sound. Even if you try not to get embroiled, headlines and soundbites echo the 280 characters driving a wedge between us all. Thanks to these Twitter tantrums, hate talk replaces straight talk with the ease of a click. Perhaps that was not always the intent of social media.
“At times during 2011, the term Arab Spring became interchangeable with “Twitter uprising” or “Facebook revolution”, as global media tried to make sense of what was going on.
But despite western media’s love affair with the idea, the uprisings didn’t happen because of social media. Instead, the platforms provided opportunities for organization and protest that traditional methods couldn’t.
In the words of one protester, Fawaz Rashed: “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world.”” (Maeves Shearlaw).
But over the past two years we have witnessed the lack of ‘coordinating’ in these minute messages, in fact, dialogue across spectrums has sunk to the worst form of discourse thanks to a lack of social norms in social media posts. Or just some new allowance that we can’t back away from perhaps.