It’s now day 93 of lockdown in Auckland. Over these many days, I have been teaching Marrzipan classes online. Although I have been the one teaching the classes, I have been doing a lot of learning.
I’ve learnt the importance of turning off the chat function when working with 5-year-olds on Zoom. I’ve also learnt the importance of upgrading my internet connection. But in particular, I have learnt 3 key lessons:
Lesson 1: Embrace the Chaos
As someone who thrives on order, Zoom lessons can be a lot of chaos. There are times where one student is showing you their cat, another has a video filter on that makes them look like a Zebra, and another child is amidst a sibling war. I have learnt to embrace the mishaps, and take them as an opportunity to try something new.
In one class, my laptop microphone stopped working and the kids could not hear me at all. From this, we invented a game of ‘Read my Lips’ where one student would put themself on mute and tell us a sentence. The rest of us would try and work out what they could be saying.
In another class, I was thrown out of our Zoom call due to a bad internet connection, and a student was made the host of the call. The host has the power to do anything they want. Luckily, the eight-year-old student did decide to let me back in! We turned this into an opportunity to pass the leadership around and have the students be the teacher of the class.
Lesson 2: Every Marrzi-Person is Different
We all like to have a solo dance party or a loud sing-along from our bedrooms! For many of our quiet types, being comfortable, crazy, and weird felt natural when in their bedroom alone. I was amazed to see how big and bold many of our students became in the home environments that are familiar to them.
In contrast, I watched as other children had to adjust to being their most authentic selves in front of a reflective screen. For many of even the most out-going and enthusiastic students, seeing their own reflection for the length of class, added to feelings of self-consciousness.
At Marrzipan, we celebrate that every child is different. In lockdown, while some students opted to do class with their video off, others wanted to perform original songs and full-length monologues for me. I learnt to embrace both with open arms (and had lots of fun doing it!)
Lesson 3: I’m One Lucky Ducky!
Teaching in this lockdown has taught me just how lucky I am. While lockdown can feel like a big grey cloud, teaching the Marrzi-people each day was my silver lining. It was awesome to see all of the joy and energy on my screen. Our Marrzipan students are resilient, hard-working and brave. While I knew this already, this lockdown has truly proven it to me.
I am confident that whatever next comes our way, our Marrzi-people will be rearing to go! Albeit with some knock-knock jokes and strange costumes in tow!