I have the smartest grandchildren. Of course, all grandparents think they do, but I really do. My daughter and her family came to spend a few weeks with us in the summer, and I quickly learned how smart my grandchildren are. Of course, part of intelligence is a matter of curiosity, and it wasn’t long before I learned how curious a two-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy can be.
Because of the Covid virus, I’m teaching from home. I’d love to be in the classroom with my students, but there are no good options for that. So I have a section of my house set up with a whiteboard, a camera, and all my teaching station necessities.
The problem with all those things is they are nothing but an endless supply of items for children to explore. And so, soon after they came, I had a day of teaching that went something like this:
After a verbal explanation of the material using PowerPoint slides, I went to a slide with a sample question.
“All right, everyone,” I said, “go ahead and punch these numbers into your calculator, and I will do the same.”
At that point, I reached for my calculator, but it was nowhere to be seen. That was when I remembered my granddaughter watching me while I used it, and I was sure I knew why I couldn’t find it. So I said, “I will also punch it in the minute I find out what my granddaughter has done with my calculator.”
I then tried to do a quick search for the calculator but had no luck. I have a big box of dollar store calculators I bought to share with my students in the classroom. So instead of my one hundred and fifty-dollar calculator, I grabbed a dollar store one. The buttons were small and hard to punch, but my class was waiting.
At that point, I returned to my computer and said, “Okay, I found a calculator. Does anyone already have the answer?”
Inevitably, by that point, someone did. A student shared her answer with all of us. “That looks good,” I said. “Now, let’s talk in more depth about this answer as I write it on my whiteboard.”
At that point, I reached for my whiteboard markers and found every one of them was missing its cap. I tried to write with some of them, but they wrote so lightly they were impossible to see on the computer screen.
“Okay,” I said, “I will be right back after I go get a new marker.”
Luckily, I had a cupboard with a stash of new markers. I went and retrieved a couple and took them to my teaching station. I switched to the whiteboard camera and wrote the problem on the board. When I turned to look at my computer screen, it showed an image of one of my ceiling lights. That was when I remembered my grandson asking me what the camera attached to my desk was for. He must have turned it.
My students hadn’t even said anything while I was writing the problem. It made me wonder if any of them were really with me in the discussion. But I got the camera facing the whiteboard, and we discussed the problem. Things did go better after that. But when I went to check the clock to see how much time I had left for class, I found it was missing.
As you can imagine, every day after that, before it was time for class to start, I tried to check and make sure everything was ready. I could no longer assume anything would be in the place I put it the last time I used it. I also put a box of markers and dollar store calculators on a shelf, supposedly out of the reach of children. I say “supposedly” because I was continually surprised at what they could get into.
That evening, the children came to sit by me after their baths, and my granddaughter asked, “Gampa, can we watch a kitty movie on ootube?”
I found a good one, and they snuggled up close as we all watched it on my small computer screen. And even after all the craziness of the day, I smiled and thought, “Thank heaven for sweet, darling grandchildren.”