Thursday, October 22, 2020

Virtual Gardening

Mrs. E invited me into her 5th grade's Wednesday Zoom meeting.  I had more than a week to prepare.  I have come to a conclusion:  Teaching is not for the faint of heart.

Grandma got into her coat of many colors, organized her notes and her demonstration items, and then I realized that my computer was on an endless loop of rebooting itself and Grandma was gone and I was in a panic.  With two minutes to spare, I connected via the iPad mini perched atop a box (that was happily out of place) and leaning against my water bottle (I was thirsty but thwarted).

I found the gallery view (with a little bit of encouragement) and then there they were, bigger but still the same.  Their faces filled my heart.  I could feel it expanding in my chest.

But there was no time to dwell on the wonderfulness of it all, because suddenly the introductions and instructions and reminders were over and it was time to talk about xylem and phloem.

They are two of the strangest words to spell and say.  Somebody knew exactly what photosynthesis meant, and what it did, and the role of of sunlight in the factory that made its own food.  And we ate some of that food, as somebody else agreed that syrup is sap and that's food for plants and also food from plants and I stopped before I got caught up in it entirely.

We all took a moment to let it sink in.

Meristematic tissue - growth tissue - was next on the agenda, and then tree rings, and then the whole thing from roots through stem to flower.  I read  them Joyce Kilmer and an ancient Norwegian prose poem on trees.  We went over the instructions for the marigold seed planting project they'll do when their cohorts return to in-person learning on Thursday or Friday.  

Fifty-eight minutes had passed.    

I spent an hour or so finishing the project materials, then drove to pick up the soil and drop it off at school. 

That was 58 minutes of presentation, without worrying about running the call, or managing the questions.  I knew that the teacher would step in if I got stuck, or ran out of things to say.  The topic was one I loved. 

I was exhausted.  I was exhilarated.  I'm still smiling.


  1. Oh my god! 58 minutes! How ever did you manage??? Maybe 5th graders have a longer attention span? First and second graders are so wormy-squirmy and especially while they are at home with all sorts of distractions like the black cat that got held up to show me about 5 times during Thursday's story. Thirty minutes is my limit, and I think the kids' too!

  2. They weren't physically squirming in front of me so I focused on the faces on the top screen who were fully engaged.(not everybody has a working camera to connect... another delightful inequity). The kids are so hungry to learn, to have new stuff poured in..... I was an anomaly, someone unexpected, and for some that was motivation enough to stare at my giant face in the screen (the iPad setup was not as flattering as the computer would have been!) for almost an hour.
    And I'm doing it again next week!


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