I remember when I first started teaching how my principal would remind us before longer breaks about why some students would act out. She told me that many students looked at school as their safe zone, a place where they would get a meal, find some quiet, and could escape the chaos of what went on their homes. It made a lot of sense to me with my own little girl connection to school as a place that was safe for me.
It isn’t any different in high school or with my online students. Two experiences brought this home to me again. The first was with several of my online students who had the whole week of Thanksgiving off because of the schedule of the public school they are connected to, but who continued to work every day and to email me all through the week for help or just to tell me what was going on in their day. Even on Thanksgiving Day, they were
working on assignments and asking me for help.
On Saturday morning, as we were out feeding cattle and horses and working in the corral, one of my students called my Google Voice number which I set up to ring through to my cell phone, and she asked if I please had time to open my office and help her with her research report. I headed inside and began to work with her in live time, and Robert even got in a word or two as her face shone out from my computer screen. All they wanted, really, was to know someone was still there.
In my brick and mortar school today, I asked my students to write about the best part of their long weekend. Most wrote about pie or stuffing or menudo and spending time with family in town for Thanksgiving. It was fun to hear about all of their various traditions. But one young man read from his notebook, “There was nothing good about my break at all. There were no best parts. It sucked.” At that point, I so missed my little loving angel from last year because I would have moved him next to her right then and there so the love that pours from her spirit could maybe send a bit his way. And Christmas break is even longer.