Earlier this week, Rhonda posted a blog entry that got me thinking. In the post, she talked about how some artists have been recording songs or concerts from their living rooms and then posting them on the internet for their fans. She mentioned how Duran Duran seemed less than interested in doing something like this, acknowledging that for our favorite band a show is more than just playing music. It is all about the interaction with the audience, the chemistry that instantly develops and feeds both the band and the crowd.
Every time I see that Duran does not want to do some sort of performance, I feel a little sad as I know that “seeing” the band would give me great joy and take my mind away the world’s current reality. Heck, I get excited enough for their little Twitter chats that I cannot imagine how it would be to “see” them even on a video. Part of me cannot help but to compare them to other artists. For example, I saw a video of The Killers playing their new song from someone’s household bathroom. Not only did I enjoy the song but I loved seeing the joy they had from performing, from doing their job. So, while I did not offer any criticism of Duran or their decision not to do this in any sort of public forum, I found myself thinking it on some level. That said, this week, I had a change of heart on the topic.
This week I found myself back at work. No, I have not entered my school building but I have attended a heck of a lot of staff meetings via the internet. Many of these meetings focused on how the heck we are going to not only engage our student online but reconnect, relationship wise. In thinking about this daunting task, I found myself frustrated. Sure, I could post a question on something like google classroom to start a discussion. I could ask students to record a message to the class. Maybe, I could even hold a zoom session and invite students to join. All of these methods seem…less than adequate. Would any of these ideas equal what happens in a classroom when we are there face-to-face? No. Part of the classroom experience is being there all together. It is about reacting to each other’s facial expressions and body language. It is about having a shared experience that brings us closer to together. While comments can be made in an online setting, it is not the same as being truly together.
In thinking about this, I finally get how the band must feel. As I try to lesson plan, I am fighting this longing to pull all of my kids together, to be in the same room. I want to see my kids, to hear their voices through something other than a computer speaker. Without their presence, I am struggling to get excited, to really care about teaching. I always knew that I did the job for the kids but now I feel it deeply, in my core. I’m truly missing them terribly and finding this alternative to be unacceptable. I need the kids as much as they need me. Maybe this is how Duran Duran feels about their crowds. I know that I could stand up in my living room and talk about World War I (the next unit I was to cover) while recording myself but it would be far less enjoyable than if I had a bunch of teenagers in front of me. (Yes, I know how crazy that sounds!) How will I know if they really get what I’m saying if I can’t watch for confusion or see the moment when an idea clicks with them? It seems to me that the moment of understanding when the light bulb goes off is equivalent to when an audience screams for joy or claps loudly. It is the purpose, the point of doing the job. If Duran performs without an audience, they don’t have that reinforcement and feedback, just like I won’t without a group of kids.
So, I get it. While I still understand people’s desire to see Duran perform something, anything, I also get why that is hard for them to do. Unlike them, I have to force myself to attempt to despite the fact that it feels so wrong. Another reason that I have to hope that this pandemic ends sooner rather than later. Nine weeks of distance teaching will be nine too long for me.