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Setting a positive attitude for remote learning

School will be starting soon, and our children—and most students in our area—will be taking all their courses online.

The spring semester was a little rough around here. As we prepare to begin a new year, I am trying to bring a whole new attitude. This is what I’m trying to keep in mind:

Worrying doesn’t help. Ready or not, this is happening. Try to keep things in perspective and remember that it’s all right if your child isn’t fluent in Ancient Greek by Christmas. Let’s try to keep everyone healthy and safe and relatively happy. Anything else is gravy. And you’ll need gravy since you’ll probably be cooking a turkey for a socially distant Thanksgiving.

Preparation might not help either. Yes, we should find earbuds and charge up the devices. Maybe I should order some loose-leaf paper. You might want to carve out a workspace for your child. And every night at 10:30 I should frantically remind everyone we should have been in bed at 9 and berate myself for not paying better attention to bedtimes. But we can’t fully prepare for this experience with so many unknowns. Deep end of the pool, here we come!

Your children will learn something. It might be how to recite the Gettysburg Address. It might be how to play video games on a device that’s just out of sight of the laptop’s camera. Maybe they’ll learn how to make a PB&J because they have one chance to eat lunch, and it’s during one of your work meetings. Maybe you’ll see them grow in independence, responsibility, and resilience.

Teachers are magicians. I look at the school schedules we’ve received, and I wholeheartedly believe it’s impossible for a child to sit that long. But teachers do amazing things. Somehow they’ve taught our sons to read and do math that’s over my head and learn all kinds of information I’ve never learned. They will be there to teach and guide and stimulate and focus and connect with our children. I have tremendous faith in our teachers, and I know they want their students to succeed. I keep reminding myself that they know what our boys are capable of and will help them achieve it.

It can only go better than you think it will. Back in the ‘90s the Baltimore Opera had a marketing campaign slogan, “The Baltimore Opera: It’s better than you think. It has to be.” That’s my slogan for remote learning this fall. My expectations are low. I’m mostly aiming for survival. Maybe everyone will rise to the occasion. Maybe we will limp along. But my expectations are appropriately low enough that they can only be exceeded.

You are not alone. In the spring, I learned just how much the teachers wanted to partner with me in helping our children, and I am certain that will be the same this fall. But I also have other mom friends who will be facing similar challenges. It’s really important to have friends who can listen and text a wine emoji or a note that says, “If the link for art class changes one more time, I am done!” just when you need it most.

Let us pray. This isn’t the first challenging time in my children’s education, and it won’t be the last. Every other time we’ve gotten through, and each time—after the chaos settled—we’ve been in a better place. Let’s invite God in and see what He has in mind for our children and our families this fall.

I wish you all the best on your educational journey this fall. Here’s a prayer to start us off:

A Prayer for the Beginning of School

O Lord, as this unusual school year begins, we ask for blessings on the journey that lies ahead.
Bless the teachers with wisdom and energy and creativity.
Bless the students with focus and curiosity and enthusiasm for learning.
Bless the parents with patience and strength to support their children and the teachers.
Bless everyone with health, safety, and the ability
to recognize the beauty and the opportunity this time may present.
In these moments of challenge, may we also find friendship, faith, and joy,
and know that You walk with us each step of the way.

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