So the new school year puts you on a racing course, except you don’t know how to drive yet
Here’s my schedule for the past couple of days:
8:30am Wake up
9:00am Get son ready for class to start, it feels like a good first day of third grade! We took a “first day of third grade” selfie to post on Facebook =)
9:15am Class starts, but we didn’t log into the right classroom
9:18am Madly scramble for the link but couldn’t find it through rivers of emails from the school district, school, two different teachers for two children, emails for meal kits, parent family connection, technical support, classroom announcement. Email the teacher about it in desperation. Oh wait, found it!
9:20am Finally logged in. But the internet is so clunky that the teacher felt like an alien talking in jibberish.
9:25am Not able to pinpoint the technical issue, I thought it might be the Internet. So I rushed to set up the hotspot on my cell phone.
9:30am Somehow my cell phone has been played by the kids, who entered the password too many times. I’ve been completely locked out — it’s telling me to “connect to iTunes”. (desperation while jibberish continues in the background)
9:35am Son gets impatient about being cutting in and out of class and starts making horrendous noise so that teacher could hear him.
9:45am Literally can not understand what the teacher is saying!
I remember asking the school about a hot spot and totally understand their decision to reserve it for those who don’t have Internet at home. I think I can figure this out!
10am Shut down the computer and follow school instructions to “update” the operating system, in and out of the Zoom meeting multiple times as the computer restarts. We are now definitely running the latest version of the software.
10:30am Phone reset finally completes— but to get a hotspot, I need to pay extra to “upgrade” my plan. So that didn’t work.
11am Teacher asked us to download something from the school site, but it’s in “loading mode” forever. The server probably crashed due to the large visitor traffic.
12pm We finally figured it out. The Chromebook we got cannot handle both Zoom and a Chrome browser at the same time, as it caused “CPU overload” and hence the broken sounds from Zoom meetings. We close all the tabs on the browser.
But the class was over.
I couldn’t resist thinking about how it is for other families and teachers. Being an educator myself, I empathize with the teachers fully. It’s not easy on the other side of the virtual classroom, trying to keep kids engaged while figuring out technical challenges. I almost burst into tears when a student in the Spring gave me feedback that “the instructor refused to adapt to technology updates” because school wasn’t able to supply me with an iPad. What about other families out there? Perhaps the solution was a large investment of new laptops, top-notch router, high speed “upgraded” internet service? How could families do it while juggling the stress from job loss or having to decide between children and work for the day?
I got a message from my son’s old elementary school teacher in the evening and it’s so comforting I just have to share it here. Thank you so much for the note! We are all in this together, perhaps just need a bit more patience. This experience just puts us all in a place where we became more aware of how limited we are in every aspect of life. It’s humbling and awakening at the same time. Is it technology or humanity that we need more? Is technology the solution or the problem? The source of our frustration, is it a broken routine, or the lack of confidence and control in the current “situation”? I don’t have an exact answer. What is certain, is that connection helps. Any kind of community that you surround yourselves with. Letting out your frustrations. Send a little note of some sort to your friends who may be struggling. It’s moments like this that we hold up knowing we are not alone.