Moving is quite the process. I’ve done it seven times in my life across three different states. But I’ve never experienced a move quite like the one educators have recently made by moving their classroom online. And this got me thinking. I wondered if my past experiences with boxes and U-Hauls might have something to offer towards navigating this particular move.
My first thought was, Well, there’s really four stages to moving.
The first is just getting all your things together, which is time-consuming and incredibly overwhelming. As you pack, you take stock of your belongings, seeing what you might be able to use in the new space. You quickly realize you don’t actually need half of the junk you have, and you can’t use half of the rest. So, you jump online and find the pieces you need to make the new place functional.
Okay, well, that sounds familiar.
Next, there’s the literal act of moving your things over. You pick a vehicle and start to load things up. If you’re the independent type, you will work yourself nearly to death at this point because, gosh darn it, you’re going to do this on your own! For others, this can be an anxious time as they realize they need help, but don’t feel comfortable asking for it. Thankfully though, we all have someone we can rely on to help with getting everything transferred.
Yep. Go on.
What follow’s next is the tedious organizational step of unpacking everything for immediate, functional use. You search through your things, opening up only the essentials, haphazardly placing them in what seems like the most logical place at the time. It’s slow, awkward, clunky. Nothing feels familiar yet, making it tough to navigate.
Ugh, that’s so true.
Then, several weeks later, you start settling into your new reality. As you do, you make small but meaningful modifications and find new potential in the intricacies of the space. You see things differently now that you have lived here for some time. Subtle things get rearranged. You get organized. You go onto Pinterest or Instagram and find the perfect piece to add. You bring in elements of nature, hang up a quote, unpack family photos and put them on display. You may even establish a motif. The space becomes an extension of your personality, an extension of you.
I wonder if we educators are now entering that fourth stage in our move to elearning. If so, how might we start to transform our online space from a landing page to a learning home. What personal touches might we add? Can our students feel our presence in this online place? How might we bring elements of nature, culture, history, and the world outside of their homes into our shared space? This goes beyond aesthetics. It’s time to start thinking about how it feels to experience learning in your new classroom, especially if it’s somewhere we might be for a while.