Coronavirus Remote Education and Dancing
Day Thirty Three & Thirty Four April 23 & 24 Thursday & Friday
Friday, April 24, 2020
After one month of sheltering in, the emotional toll has finally caught up with me. Up to this point, I have been so busy adapting to going online, learning new platforms, new ways of communicating, navigating problems and pitfalls, researching materials, zooming with colleagues, texting with friends and colleagues, sharing common stories, dealing with food shopping, and the lists goes on and on.
But now it has seemed to hit a plateau. I have gotten into a groove of how to communicate to my students, keep them on track and grade them as best I can in this remote environment. I have a plan for shopping so that it is not a daily activity but once every few days. I am able to get onto my roof on nice days to work out and to make new videos for my students both adults and kids. I teach a virtual class every Saturday through the health club where I work on the weekends. I am one of the lucky ones. I still have a job and while I have lost some income from some of my side jobs, I am still viably employed. Even though I am working twice as hard and three times as long than if I was actually going into work. The other day I worked until 4am in the morning. I just couldn’t stop and that was when I realized that I am actually very depressed.
Later that day, while I was exercising on the roof and creating another video for my youngest students, I just started to cry. I realized I was lonely. I truly missed them. I felt a real lack and emptiness in my heart. It was so quiet on the roof, midday, no sound of traffic (except for the occasional siren), two or three other people on their roofs working out but far enough away that I couldn’t hear them. I could see a few people in their apartments sitting at their computers as I was videotaping the “Animal Alphabet” to Pachelbel’s Canon for my Kindergarteners to practice at home with their parents. There was a chill in the air that seemed too cold for late April and there was an emptiness in my soul that matched that clear, chilly, and quiet moment and I just started to cry.
This took me totally by surprise because I have been feeling all along that I am handling this situation really well. I am doing my job. I am becoming an expert in remote virtual education. Funny expressions remote and virtual because that is how I feel remote, removed, and virtual, not really real but virtually real, kinda real, but not really real. Like I said, they are funny expressions. This of course is antithetical to my lived experience, my profession as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. What we practice with our Pre-K and Kindergarteners everyday. How we limit their time online, as only one of the many things they experience throughout the day, and now the only time they see me is online. How real am I to them?
I miss the 5 year old who needs comforting because she misses her mom, I miss the 4th grader who is giving me a hard time yet can’t wait to get into my classroom and move. I miss early morning dance company rehearsals because most of them are still half asleep and will do anything I ask. I miss my Pre-K students who treat me like a rock star when I walk into their classroom and I miss the troubled 5th Grader who is on the edge and disengaged and whom I am convinced I can reach if I can just figure out the right approach. I miss seeing my colleagues every morning as they pass by my room and sing along with the music I have playing. These are the connections that make my job worth getting up at 5:00 in the morning and going to work every day. Getting up 7:00 am and checking in on my computer for another day of asynchronous remote education makes me feel, well, out of sync and remote. So it is no wonder that it eventually caught up to me and I just sat down on my roof, on a clear chilly day and started crying. Like the student who cries because they miss their mom, I cried because I miss my students.
The Dancing Jedi