On Halloween, my wife and I had a baby. It’s been seven days since the baby was born, and I took the week off of work. Off of everything, actually. I hardly checked my email. We hardly left the house. It was like a vacation… or rather — staycation. Getting to know my little kid was awesome. It was a reminder of how amazing unplugging can feel.
During my absence, there was no TOC to cover my class. I suppose there was a shortage in the district. The first day it bothered me, but I learned to forget about it after that. “Everyone has my back,” I told myself. “Things are being taken care of. My role is being covered somehow. And in the end, my students won’t remember in June that I missed a week of school in October.”
Unfortunately, one of the things I unplugged from was also this course. I have no idea what is going on. We had a day off last week on Halloween, which doesn’t make things any easier to keep track of. Do we have homework for tomorrow? I don’t know. Was I supposed to read something? I don’t know.
Much like my absence from work, the fact that I can’t answer these questions bothers me. I’ve been helping my wife recover from the birth and looking after the toddler. This is the first time I’ve turned my computer on in a week. I spent the last half-hour responding to emails from family and friends that were five to six days old congratulating us on the birth. Now I’m reflecting on how much I wish to reconnect to school.
As I said… I am bothered (professionally) by having taken a week off and falling behind in my work. But much like what happened in my classroom last week, I will catch up. Six months from now, I won’t remember that I missed any time at all.
Since writing the above, I logged into Canvas and clicked through to the modules and read the course syllabus. I would like to add to my reflection a big thanks to Paula for keeping the website so organized. In a course that occurs off-campus once a week with colleagues from across the district, it’s understandably easy for things to start feeling a little out-of-space/out-of-place. As foreign as Canvas was when the course first started, to me, it became part of the fabric of the community we knit. One frustration that keeps popping up to me this term is that we aren’t using it anymore. I find that I am less inclined to read my classmate’s E-Postcards because they end up drifting into the endless spew of junk that clutters up my inbox. In previous semesters, we were forced to read and respond to at least one e-Postcard. I ended up reading and responding to one e-Postcard, and usually checking out a few more just to get ideas/get thinking/and ask my coworkers at Second Street in particular, what their postcards were about.
This term, without that central place to see them all, I’ve become less inclined to be participatory with the e-Postcards. Interestingly, I noticed the topic for this week was “Exploring Space: How the environment performs us.”
Given my previous Reggio focus with the physical environment, I thought it worth noting how interesting it was that the change in online environment (even a slight change like the move from Canvas to my email box) affected so greatly how much I felt inclined to interact with my classmates and with the learning material. As Patricia Tarr notes of the physical space of the successful classroom, “There is attention to design and placement of objects to provide visual and meaningful context.”*1
Canvas is a platform that is able to provide context for the e-Postcards. My cluttered and confused email inbox — full of baby congratulations and spam and updates of replies to my latest twitter posts and messages to renew my Norton Anti-virus before it expires in five days — is not. Email inboxes are simply a messy teacher desk. Not the appropriate vessel for attracting attention to things like e-Postcards.
I used to login to Canvas multiple times a week because I had to. And now, despite logging into my email everyday (and even on my phone), I feel less motivated to click emails that say “E-Postcard” in the subject line because they become buried among all the clutter in my box. Such a minor change (and such a major impact).
p. 35 / Tarr, Patricia, Art Education, Vol. 54, No. 3, Early Childhood & Interdisciplinary Challenge (May, 2001), pp. 33-39