The art of gathering 8 year olds online

Lucky and I learning together

When I opened this blog (for the first time since October), I was surprised I had only written one entry. I had many memories of profound wordsmithing and brilliant insights, but clearly, my sourdough-laden brain and overactive sleeping imagination were off the mark. I wrote one entry to mark this year of pandemic pedagogy.

Summing up the past year and a half of teaching, learning and living:

Each month felt like a year and each week felt like a month and each day felt like a week… and yet, it all went by in a blur. 

This has been a hard year for me, and I say these words while acknowledging my extraordinary privilege. I continued to work throughout this year, my friends and family are healthy, my students had the resources to access their online learning and I am a white, middle-class woman living in an affluent neighbourhood of Toronto.

Early into the pandemic, I listened to a Ted Talk by Priya Parker. She wrote The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters. Her insights into the importance of building community stuck. Creating inclusive and supportive communities have always been essential to my teaching and learning. In March 2020, I was quick to realize that staring at 20 small icons of Minecraft paraphernalia while I lectured myself about healthy digital habits on a Google Meet did not inspire a community. At that point, I was terrified about pandemic pedagogy.

I spent the fall working on my own self-care. I tried to gaslight my feelings of anxiety and burnout. I tried to read those inspirational quotes on my Instagram feed. I tried to bury myself in baking. I tried adding bling to my face guard with gemstones. It didn’t work. When the winter break came, I spent most days lying on the couch and checking my pension calculator.

It took the winter return to online learning for me to actively reflect on how I could build community in my grade 3 classroom. My 15 minutes of HeadSpace meditation didn’t reveal a transformational moment of educator enlightenment,  I simply realized I needed to feel connected to my class as a community.

The following months have been slippery work. But I have found many things that “work” for 3Oville (as I call my class of 15 hyped-up riddle-telling mavericks). I put my ideas into this slideshow: The Art of Gathering 8-Year-Olds

I’ll let the slides do the rest of the talking.


7 thoughts on “The art of gathering 8 year olds online

  1. Kathryn, every part of your slideshow tells me that you have developed a whole new kind of community in your classroom. The things we used to rely on as teachers and builders of community, particularly in the elementary classroom, have disappeared or significantly transformed this year. Rest assured, you have turned everything upside down and created a memorable, engaging, fun, safe, therapeutic environment for ‘3Oville.’ And you know what? Your students will remember this year…not because of the pandemic (well, OK, maybe also because of the pandemic) but because they had a teacher who cared and tried wacky things and made them dance and run around their homes and laugh together and share their feelings. Congratulations on creating a whole new type of community. They are lucky to have you.

  2. What a powerful journey you’ve shared here @kobrien. I love your closing quote in the slide deck about all things will end – and will it have changed you?

    I think that your provocation of finding your “self” as a ‘remote’ or online teacher is equally as powerful. We have all had moments of identity crisis, haven’t we?

    Thanks for sharing, and your slide deck is a great model of what learning looks like at Cohort 21.

    @jmedved @acampbellrogers @ckirsh @lmcbeth

  3. Hi Kathryn (@kobrien),

    It was such an honour to read through your Cohort 21 Action & Engagement Journey. Thank you for sharing your lived experience of “teaching, learning, and living” in a pandemic so openly. Your self-reflective story and the quotes and resources you shared in your slide deck were excellent and will serve many others in the C21 Community.

    I hope your classroom community continues to fuel your teaching voice as you finish out this academic year!


    @cfong @lyorke @lmitchell @dneville

Comments are disabled.