by CMS Teacher Marissa Chamberlain
In a time where so many of us may be feeling disconnected or alone, I’ve been grateful for the connections I am able to make with my students at China Middle School. I recently began holding a “Lunch with Ms. C” Zoom call on Wednesdays. It is open and optional to all of my 5th and 6th-grade students, and we enjoy sharing what we’re eating for lunch as well as updates on what’s going on in all of our lives. Some of us had been milking cows at 3 AM every morning. Some of us had been outside exploring and hiking. And some of us (yes, I’m guilty) had been binge-watching our new favorite Netflix shows.
This past week I had students choose what I ate for lunch. They ended up voting for Greek yogurt with strawberries. One of my students recommended I sprinkle cinnamon on top because that’s what he and his mom always do. It was delicious! I made my lunch with them, and we continued chatting about life these days and the ups and downs of the world we’re living in now. I even had students join in who I wasn’t lucky enough to have in class which was a pleasant surprise.
The day continued on as usual, and the sun went down. As I tucked myself into bed, I began to reflect on the day, as I do every day, especially now that I am a teacher. Those kiddos never seem to leave my brain. I realized that in some ways, I feel more connected to my students now than ever. There are students who it was like pulling teeth to get them to say two words in class who have found new confidence in virtual lessons, and now I can’t get them to stop talking. I would’ve never known that fun tidbit of information about my student eating yogurt with cinnamon because his mom did. I would have never known how much my students actually enjoy school if it wasn’t for the emails and photos from afar that they send telling me it’s not the same. The random run-ins with students while on walks around the school loop or at a local restaurant picking up take out mean so much more now than they ever did before.
In a time where I found myself slipping and feeling defeated by this pandemic, feeling disconnected and alone, the connections we’ve been able to make, even in a small way like sharing lunch together for a half-hour on Wednesdays, have saved me. And I hope and imagine that the time we’ve been able to spend together virtually has helped them too. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There have been many days I’ve wanted to throw my laptop out the window and pretend my email doesn’t exist. I will say though that holding on to these small moments of connection with students has made it a whole lot easier. Until we can be together again, our time on Wednesdays will have to do.