Saturday, March 21, 2020

Remote Learning

Taking care of the little ones.
We are here for you.
"You do what you have to do, I guess."

This is a reflective statement my mom uses when thinking back to the early years of her marriage. She was just 23 with three young children (my older brother, Wally, my twin brother, Larry, and me) dealing with financial struggles in a new home far away from everything and everyone she knew.

I'd ask, "How'd you handle it all?"

"You do what you have to do, I guess. And then you wonder later how you did it."

I feel a little bit like that right now with the upheaval casued by the Coronavirus. Last week I was teaching in a classroom in Manhattan. This week I'm starting remote teaching from my home 55 miles away (from my classroom), connecting with students who are now scattered across the country.

It's been a challenging, stressful week planning a huge shift in pedagogical methodology. Online classes for kindergartners?! What the hell does that look like? My colleagues and I rolled up our sleeves and immersed ourselves in learning about the various platforms and technology to do this. A week ago I knew nothing about Google classrooms, Zoom, or the many, many, websites and resources seemingly popping up everyday to support our work.

The shift has forced us to be creative. Creativity is something I embrace and the possibilities for what this could be is inspiring me and many of my coworkers. It has solidified us as a community of educators, sharing ideas and solving problems.

Teachers are teaming up to provide ASL versions of read alouds and lessons. My student teacher has adjusted her role a bit to provide support in ways I hadn't considered before. We dive into it all on Monday morning. We have a plan and a platform and hope that we'll figure the rest out as we go.

There is a great deal of talk out there about what this means for the future of education. As state tests are suspended and teacher evaluations are on hold, can we rethink the limits of our current modus operandi? Will the focus on connection, well-being, and individuation to help us reimagine our schools?

However we proceed, for the moment parents and teachers must work together more than ever before. I'm counting on them to help my class of 5-year-olds thrive in this crazy time. We are all going to do what we have to do, I guess.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Hamilton's "Dear Theodosia" in ASL

The video for Dear Theodosia is ready to share!

It's the vision of Kori Rushton, an educator at Brooklyn Collaborative and the producing artistic director of IRT Theater. Kori brought all of the elements together: she chose the song, assembled the creative team, and handled all of the scheduling details.

The result is a beautiful version of the song in ASL performed by Kori's high school students, my kindergarten students, and Gabriel Silva. The students learned the sign language using an interpretation by Brandon Kazen-Maddox. I worked with my young students a bit every morning to piece the verse together. Brandon was there on the day of the shoot to support the students and model for them in person.

I am very honored to have been involved in this collaboration. I know it meant a lot to my students who are a mix of deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing children with deaf parents. The work supports Kori's passion for celebrating #deaftalent.

Planning is already underway for the next one! Enjoy...


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