I log into zoom (at least) five minutes early, and there is always (at least) one kindergartner waiting at the virtual door. “Ms. Ellerman, can I tell you something?” or “Ms. Ellerman, I want to show you something.” They are poised for storytelling. As more kids pop in, they juggle for air time—with me and with each other. At this point they’re comfortable calling out to each other, sharing and checking in.
Sometimes the cross talk becomes too much. “If you can hear my voice, touch your nose. . . If you can hear my voice, wiggle your ears. . .” We remind each other to take turns, to listen to each other.
This head start on our day—head start on each lesson, really, because it happens each time we log in—this time matters.
This is when we find out who has a wiggly tooth, who built the International Space Station out of Legos, and who is so excited for her birthday (in a month and a half) that she can’t sit still. Those first five minutes (that almost always turn into ten minutes) are when we learn who slammed her finger in the car door, who just found a treasure map, and who spent the morning designing a snack shop ready for customers on the kitchen floor of his home (during lockdown).
Making space for these stories is a gift.
This routine is part of my life as a remote kindergarten teacher this year. I look forward to that moment every live lesson every day, when expectant faces pop on screen, followed by the inevitable (and oh so welcome), “I have to tell you something!”
On this Monday, the first day of the March Slice of Life Story Challenge for 2021, I am reminded of the power story has to connect us. I am reminded that carving out time to share and to listen is how we build community. And as hard as it is to commit to writing and posting every day for 31 days, I’m going to give it a go.