unmuted bumps

I remember back in the beginning of distance learning, the idea of muting someone felt wrong.

We don’t mute people.

But it had to be done because we couldn’t make sense of who was talking.

We learned how to find space for our voices without raising hands. Tricky with the lag, but students figured it out. They learned to pass the conversation on to someone else without me orchestrating it.

In the virtual space, when we write, read, or think, muting become an expectation.

Students policed each other. “X- you’re un muted” is the phrase used to keep the work space quiet.

And it is deafeningly quiet.

Today, students were taking a mandated math assessment. Occasionally someone would ask a question and then forget to mute.

We’d hear…

“Ten times four plus twelve”

“A, you’re unmuted.”

“Ugh, I can’t believe I did…”

“Oh, I get it!”

“H, you’re unmuted.”

“This is easy.”

Each voice would realize or be informed of their unmuted status and mute themselves.

We all process in different ways. Thinking out loud is necessary sometimes.

One of my students has a beautiful voice and she loves to hum as she works. And I’m sure others have their habits. We just don’t them. Yet.

At some time to be determined in April, my school will be going to a hybrid model. The majority of my kiddos elected to stay on line, but for the eight returnees learning how to be with other humans outside their home will be the first order of business. There will be no mute buttons.

How will it feel when they are surrounded by others who have their own, sometimes noisy, ways of sorting through problems?

Now that they have had their own audio space, I wonder if sensitivities will be greater.

When we return, there will be bumps. And muting will not be an option. We don’t mute people.

Perhaps, the experience of being in a space without the intrusion of others will help kiddos see the need for tolerance and self control. It’s a tall order for any one. Learning how to live with others respectfully is one of the most important things to teach and learn. For now, I’m imagining the unmuted bumps.

Day 25 slice of life daily challenge 2021.

14 thoughts on “unmuted bumps

  1. All your student examples listed make this piece so rich. Your slice is such an interesting POV. Staying muted or not talking was what I wrote about today. You’ve given me more to think about now. Thanks.

    • Now you bring up another aspect I didn’t think about! I was thinking whole group. Small group is a whole other problem on line . You’ve given me something to think about!

  2. “We don’t mute people.” Thank you for this thoughtful reflection about what has become so commonplace in our language and our meeting behaviors. We’re learning right alongside our students on this one which may be a healthy tradeoff of this challenging time.

  3. I was just thinking about how much my students have learned about having conversations on Google Meet. They are better at taking turns and not talking over someone else. Mostly. (HAHAHA!!!!)

  4. I kept smiling with recognition in reading this through and thought about the complex ways that we have had to navigate teaching and learning, assessment and evaluation in such unforgiving technocratic spaces. You are doing a wonderful job and it shows everywhere in this writing.

  5. I love the perspective you bring to this. This line really caught my attention: ““X- you’re un muted” is the phrase used to keep the work space quiet./And it is deafeningly quiet. ” I love this part, too: “One of my students has a beautiful voice and she loves to hum as she works. And I’m sure others have their habits. We just don’t hear them. Yet.” I am going to be thinking about the noise in my classroom differently tomorrow! Thank you for a beautiful way of thinking about honoring children’s (literal) voices.

  6. I loved the line, “we don’t mute people, repeated throughout. I also appreciated how you showed everyone’s development with this new normal. I also wrote about this for a slice, “the power of the mute button”.

  7. My students mostly stay muted–it’s very rare to hear a voice (and even rarer to see a face). So sometimes when they are accidentally unmuted, it’s so tempting to leave them so. There are people out there! Even hearing the click of their keys on the keyboard feels companionable sometimes. I am having such a hard time wrapping my mind around continuing to teach online while also simultaneously building an in-person community for the handful of learners who are in the building. How are we going to do that in late April?!

    • High school is so difficult. This is what I hear from all who are teaching and from those who have kids in the classes. I don’t know how you do both simultaneously. One way alone is hard enough. Day at a time seems the only way. 😘

  8. We went hybrid in October. The kids in the building were quiet! It was odd for a bit, especially since different students came the next day. They were so good at taking turns with the kids online. When the kids on Zoom had discussions in breakout rooms, the kids IN the room with me were still mostly quiet – it was odd being at least six feet away from people you’re supposed to discuss with. We’ve been “all in” since January (3 feet, sometimes closer), and now everyone IN the class is talking, and it’s like pulling teeth to get the kids at home to talk. It’s totally ONE DAY AT A TIME these days. I have faith that your kids will find their voices again, as mine are – now mine are learning how to LISTEN to each other – again. (I’ll have 18% of mine at home starting Tuesday.) Big sighs. You can do this – it may not be your best year yet, but I have faith that you will enjoy bits of each change each time it changes on you. I do remember fondly that it was nice to hear giggles to some of my jokes or the videos we watched… it warmed my heart to have SOME in-person feedback.

    • So good to hear details about the transition from
      online learning. I am only teaching one group of kids at a time. So the online and in person will become two separate classes. They won’t interact. While that is easier in some ways, a
      lot of me wants to keep them all together.

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