Friday, March 20, 2020

Coronavirus, Remote Education, and Dancing

I haven't posted in quite awhile but as I am at home preparing to go online with my 500 plus students I thought it would be a good time to record what may very well be a truly historic event. So I am going to attempt to keep a blog journal of my day to day experience as an internet dance educator for my Elementary as well as College students. I am not sure how long this will be going on but I am going to do my best to document everyday as much as possible. 

So here we go

Coronavirus, Remote Education and Dancing 

Day one, Friday March 20, 2020

Happy Spring! Which was yesterday and the earliest it has been in over 124 years. The last time this occurred was in 1896. The actual equinox was at 11:50 pm last night March 19, 2020.

First I want to give a big shout out to all of my colleagues at PS 79 for taking part in the monumental effort of preparing ourselves, our parents, and our students for changing over to an online educational system. This was and will be no easy task as we all prepare to work from home remotely with our elementary population and do our very best to keep them on track.

It was humbling to see how hard all of the staff was working yesterday to prepare ourselves for what may be a month or more of remote education. Learning new programs in one session, checking out resources online, collaborating with fellow staff, keeping social distancing and other recommended health protocols in place, and overall trying to comprehend the enormity and seriousness of what we are attempting to do.

I must say I was a little depressed at having to leave the school and my colleagues behind as I contemplate being at home working without social contact and trying to impart the importance of dance, as a physical, social, and cognitive activity, to my students and parents.

I was working hard at creating videos of the many different activities we do in dance class so that my students will  be able to replicate as much as possible what we do together in my classroom. The key word here is “together”. I felt it was important to connect with my students so that they still feel a part of something bigger than themselves. Creating videos of myself doing the warm-ups and dance activities is one way of helping them feel connected. If it means making a new video every week (even in my cramped apartment) then so be it.

So much of what occurs in a dance classroom goes beyond learning the task, or routine, or specific project that we are working on. It is about the social connection. I know that when my students walk into my classroom they are genuinely excited because they are about to partake in something that goes beyond what has been asked of them in their other classes. That at its heart dance is a social activity that we are participating in all together.  I am hoping to replicate that to the best of my ability as we enter into this next phase of virtual reality.

So on day one of being at home and still in prep mode (we do not start actually online with our families until Monday), the very first thing I did was take care of myself.

First I slept for over 5 hours for the first time in years. Then I got up, made espresso, had breakfast, and exercised in my kitchen, as that is the largest open space in my 320 square foot apartment. I am logging this in because I feel it is important to take care of ourselves first in order to be our very best in helping others and without a gym or dance classes my kitchen will have to do.

Then I got right to work as I finish contacting all of my students and families, of which I have over 500 and prepare them for Virtual Dancing with Mr. Jannetti starting on Monday, March 23, 2020. More to follow soon……

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