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GUEST BLOG: An unexpected outcome of remote learning

Guest writer Erinn Cox, teacher at Mercer Elementary, shares her perspective regarding an unexpeted outcome of remote learning.

“Day One of remote learning.  Here we go,” I thought to myself with tentative excitement.  I logged onto my computer to see which of my 3rd grade students had managed to weed through the internet jungle and arrive in my Google Meets Classroom for the first time.  

Endless snares seemed to line their path leading up to that first day.  Do they have a computer?  Do they have internet access?  Can they remember their username and password? Can they turn on their audio, video and can they mute?  If they stumble through all that, can they figure out how to access their work and turn it in online?  I was anxious to see my students arrive.  

As my screen fired up, I anticipated seeing the faces of my classroom extroverts. The students who always have their hands up in class, love to share, chat with their friends, and energize the classroom on a day-to-day basis. I predicted that this collective group of classroom extraverts would help me lead the charge towards mastering this new way of doing school.  

But to my surprise, they were not the faces I saw on that day. Instead, I saw the students from my classes who were often quiet, pensive and at times hesitant to share in the typical classroom setting.  The introverts.  Bright, thoughtful and deliberate students, who sometimes found themselves muted by the activity and buzz in a typical classroom setting.   

In this brave new world of school, these students were the first to raise their hands and the first to figure out how to turn in their work online. With confidence, they unmuted their microphones, answered questions and shared insight to help their peers. Within this new venue, their calm and composed nature seemed to diffuse through our screens and provide a key element in uniting us.  Not only has their essence been contagious to others, these students unexpectedly found themselves in a position of leadership and have done an outstanding job rising to the occasion.

So while we focus on adapting to these less-than-ideal circumstances, let’s celebrate that for some young minds this experience will mold leadership skills that will travel with them for the rest of their lives.  For this group, the challenges they felt in the typical classroom setting were the very things that helped to develop their empathy and prepare them to quietly lead the students that now feel most vulnerable.