Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

Dr Seuss

I live in Melbourne which means, embarrassingly, I live in the most locked-down city in the world. On the day I write this – the 15th of October – Melburnians will have spent 257 days in lockdown. That’s a lot of time for a student to be cooped up in a room, trying to stay focussed on a teacher who has been little more than a head on a screen for the past few months.

Yesterday marked another gloomy milestone for Melbourne – 2,297 new infections, our highest daily number of COVID cases. The word is that it will get worse before it gets better.

It’s not easy for anyone, but as a teacher, one of my chief concerns is for the students I am striving to educate. I can’t speak to the efficacy of the tactic, but I thought I’d share one small thing I do to address my concerns.

Our students have about twenty minutes between most classes. I find some join my WebEx session early; there’s usually a handful ready to go ten minutes before class. I thought some form of greeting would be appropriate, so I created welcome videos for them. I’ll provide some examples below, but essentially these are animated backdrops taken from popular video games accompanied by a quotation I have selected from a book. Most quotations reflect the students’ current status, offering literary wisdom to help them deal with being physically (and perhaps emotionally) dislocated.

Sometimes we discuss the quotations once class starts, but typically I just let the students take from the welcome what they will.

I wasn’t sure whether they had even noticed the videos until the day I repeated one and was met with widespread condemnation. I have since made over fifty new clips – hopefully, I won’t have to use them all.

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