To My Students (on the day before we start our online class)

Dear Students,

Tomorrow is our first class online.

I have to admit, I’m a little nervous. Not so much because we’re online – that part is easy. I mean, what could be so hard about talking to a computer screen for 40 minutes? I’ve been playing around with different backgrounds for my screen, figuring out the best place in my house to run class, and fun fact, considering wearing pajamas. Maybe.

Screen Shot 2020-03-15 at 6.37.40 PM

So that part isn’t concerning me. I’m more worried about the things that may not work with our class. The internet could be spotty. My wifi may not be able to handle it. The documents may not upload. There are so many things that could go wrong in those 40 minutes that I’m nervous we will spend so much time just figuring things out that we will waste a chunk of the class time and all my plans will fall apart.

So this is where you come in.

This transfer of education from the classroom to the virtual world requires you to own your education and decide that regardless of what happens, you are going to make sure your learning does not stop. I have taken training classes in Zoom, and I have created plans that I hope will translate well to your computer screens, but you also need to buy into it. If the WiFi fails, you need to keep reading. If the screen doesn’t mirror, you need to write things down. You need to decide that at the end of the month, you will have not wasted your time logging in to meet for class. You will turn around and say, “It was different, sometimes it was hard, but look at what I learned.”

My goal is not to waste your time or give you busy work to fill the 40 minutes of screen time. My goal is to teach. Your goal is not to be passive. You can’t just be an observer during that time, filling up your video screen with a pre-recorded video of yourself looking interested (by the way, I know about those). You need to actively decide that you will use the time, take advantage of the teacher who is working to teach you, and grow in your studies and your abilities, despite the difficulties and the stress that is surrounding us.

You are part of a monumental time in history. I’m old and let me tell you, I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime. This is the moment that you will tell your children about. These are the days that you will look back on and say, “I lived through that.” So this is the time to record your thoughts. Keep a journal. Write everything down. The things you’re hearing on the news. The things you’re hearing people say. The things that are happening in your town and with your family. Write it down, because you will forget the details, and I promise you, you will want to remember them. You will want to go back to them. I kept a journal during the days after September 11th and when I reread my entries, I am right back in that moment. Trust me on this. You will want this record.

notebook writing pencil start

Photo by Dom J on

This is an extraordinary time we are are living through. I think we are both up for the challenge. I think, when we look back on these weeks that we met online, we will say it was the highlight of our year, the best part of our educational journey, and an experience that transformed you into a stronger student and careful thinker, and me into a more sensitive teacher. To quote from one of my favorite movies, “I think this will be our finest hour.”

Test your wifi, charge your iPad, and get ready. Tomorrow is going to be awesome.


Your Teacher





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3 replies

  1. Amazing as always!!!

  2. great idea to keep a journal.
    btw are we all in this together? to quote every kid’s favorite movie.

  3. Thanks for sharing your post. You have become my teacher too.

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