I’d like to share a few words of reflection concerning our summer camps and classes. We just did not know what to expect for the summer—what we discovered were rays of hope and light, determination, and personal connections.
We’ve always heard that children are resilient. Our summer learners proved this to be true. In an amazing act of solidarity our learners participated in COVID protocol that many adults would have trouble adhering to. The learners were unbelievably conscious of keeping themselves safe as well as all other learners and teachers. The COVID safety protocol just became for them an everyday second nature “norm” as the children focused on and proved their drive for learning. We even were able to crack jokes about the state of the world and laugh about sanitizing our crayons. But during all of this, the learners absolutely amazed me as we hopped, skipped, and plowed through reading and writing activities with the learners and myself both knowing we had a lot of ground to cover, to close a gap as well as create enriched learning.
With sheer determination, we (teacher AND learners) were aware that we also wanted to build the sturdiest and strongest foundation of basic reading and writing skills possible in a sole summer camp to prepare for the unknown of the upcoming school year. We practiced phonics and phonemic awareness skills while Ms. Frank wore a clear shield at key teaching times so the young learners could see her mouth making the sounds. We practiced reading and writing strategies while emphasizing reading for meaning, reading fluency, and reading with expression. The true grit of our summer 2020 learners was beyond amazing.
We chatted and socialized as we honed our art skills and oh, how we loved creating beautiful art! We journaled, made funny and even gorgeous pictures. We were thankful that at Club Literacy we have hundreds of leveled readers that we were able to put into a daily rotation for safety measures.
In years past we always invited parents into the Club Literacy suite to see the progress of their learners. This was not an option this summer. The current world situation is forcing us to be creative, and we took up the challenge. On the final day of summer camp, we positioned tables socially-distanced from one another along our outside corridor. Parents were able to come and enjoy their child’s journals and view their progress in safety in the fresh open air!
As we utilized our outside lawn for some outdoor learning and mask/snack breaks, lots of memorable events happened that will forever cement in our hearts the summer of 2020. We invented journal jumping Olympics, we got to see a multitude of dogs being walked with all of their curious personalities and we received lots of community support for demonstrating our academic diligence while being safe and respectful.
Some of the learners were in need of a “brush-up”, while others were moving on to true enrichment. Several had obvious learning gaps that were identified, and the children themselves blew my mind working so hard to improve their skills!
About twenty-five percent of the summer camps and classes were live online teaching. These learners were no less amazing, in some aspects even more so. Our at-home learners were the essence of motivated, self-determined learners! We are so proud of the way they stepped up to this new, unique learning style.
We taught online classes for advanced Pre-K through third grade. Many learners participated in weekly or camp-style classes that encompassed two-hour Zoom meetings. They did it! Their willingness to work hard can be seen in many of the photos. About half of the learners that we taught online we had not yet met in person and some were three thousand miles away! Even though these are trying (and could be by some be called depressing) times, we are forever moved by the indescribable tenacity of these students as we were able to forge real connections and relationships , and still motivate these learners to work so hard and give us one hundred percent of their attention.
Our online learners have truly moved us in ways that will forever change us. They have changed how we view the concept of hope. On a humorous note, we met beautiful pets and even gave a Zoom reading lesson to a dog! It’s important to make oneself laugh during these crazy times.
One of the most touching learning experiences that we had was the teaching of our hybrid Zoom live classes in which we had some learners in-person and some learners at home. The scenario made the heart swell when the in-person learners bonded and communicated with the sheltered-in-place learners. The learners on both sides of the screen would support and compliment each other’s work—it was truly remarkable to witness these most heartfelt acts of kindness.
In sharing a few final thoughts: we have never worked harder for your learners than we have since the beginning of COVID-19 and its multiple uncertainties. We have encountered many work-based complications that we never thought possible. The planning, scheduling and execution of online teaching is indescribably challenging and becomes even more complicated when teaching a hybrid class. We’ve also never been under such financial duress as business owners than since the Coronavirus threatened to shut everything down— but after working with our incredible learners over the summer, we are inspired! Your learners fill us with hope!
When you can’t find the sunshine BE the sunshine!
Ms. Frank & the Club Literacy