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Another rainout thanks to thunderstorms

On Wednesday night I sent Abrome families the following message by email: “Currently the forecast tomorrow is all day thunderstorms. I’ll wait until tomorrow morning to make the call but if the forecast then is similar to what it is right now we will need to have our second remote day of the year. I’ll be in touch by 7a.”

When I woke up it was the same as it was the night before—another all day thunderstorm forecast. I contacted the other Facilitators, updated our family resources page on the website, I sent out a community email, I sent texts to all families, and I updated the internal Facebook group. I lost about 90 minutes dealing with cancellation related issues, but because my start time was now 10:00 a.m. instead of 9:00 a.m., I gained an extra hour on the back end to write a blog post. Side note: if Abrome was a school I’d present that as a word problem and demand that students identify the problem with that logic and ask them how much time I lost or gained. But we are not a school so I think I’ll just bring it up sometime today in conversation.

Our experience with being remote last year taught us that we do not need to fill the schedule with offerings, but that having some offerings was a great way for interested Learners to interact with each other and the Facilitators. One Learner had already scheduled a Scary Story offering on Discord, and then each Facilitator added an offering of their own: Crossword Puzzles, Artists Studio Hangout, and the “I’m Thinking of a Thing” game. Those offerings are in addition to the morning meetings that are broken out by operating cell, and the afternoon roundup that we planned to do as a community. I also had two check-ins with Learners planned.

The day for our cell started at 10:00 a.m. with five Learners and two Facilitators at the morning meeting. One Learner slept through the meeting and another Learner missed it because he thought that we were checking in remotely at 11:00 a.m., but on days that the entire group is remote we host everyone at the same time. Without being able to write their own intentions out like they do when we meet in-person, I wrote down each Learner’s intentions for the day on post-it notes that I added to our daily log. Included in some of the intentions were attendance at all of the offerings, eating food, playing Minecraft, exercising, making rainbow crochet, spending time with pets, writing music, editing wiki, making art, and reading.

After the morning meeting I hosted the crossword puzzle offering, of which one Facilitator and one Learner joined. But the Learner didn’t want to do a crossword so we went for simplicity and played rock-paper-scissors. After getting bounced from the game before anyone else, I began trying to figure out what the other two members’ strategies were so I could beat them the next time around, assuming they weren’t just randomly choosing rock, paper, or scissors. But after the game the Learner left and Facilitator Lauren and I finished a crossword puzzle.

With an hour until the next offering I got on the phone with an advertising company to begin a campaign to let people know that Abrome was meeting in-person during the pandemic so that we could grow our community. Then I drank some more coffee, and then I logged onto Zoom to support the Artists Studio Hangout offering. We had some technical difficulties with that offering so I did not get much of my to-do list done during that time, and then I rolled into a Learner’s Scary Story offering at 1:00 p.m. The Learner who was hosting it had some difficulties finding the Discord channel that everyone was meeting at so I retold the one ghost story I know for the Learners who were there. And since my story is a true story I think it held their attention. Once the host Learner plugged in she shared two stories, and then another Learner decided that she would also share a story. That Learner also told us that she had previously started a scary story group when she was living in Brazil! I think these two Learners may hit it off fabulously. The offering was only slated for 30 minutes so we said our goodbyes and moved on with our days.

I ate a nice hot bowl of soup for lunch and then did some minor email tasks while waiting for my meeting with a Learner. Unfortunately my meeting with the Learner was at the same time as Facilitator Jennifer’s “I’m thinking of a thing” offering, but it was great to finally catch up with the Learner who is in a different operating cell than me. After that call I planned on moving into my second call but there was confusion over the day that we were meeting so we planned to meet at the same time on Friday. I then used my little bit of time before the afternoon roundup to get some more emails in.

At 3:30 p.m., much of the community came together for the afternoon roundup. The prompt for the meeting was: what was the best thing about your remote day, what was the worst thing about your remote day, and what can make future remote days better? Some of the answers for the best thing about the remote day included sleeping (and we start our day at 10:00 a.m., unlike most schools!), mowing the lawn (an out of state Learner), drawing, more time for Minecraft, Scary Story offering, coding, breathing, came up with an idea for Halloween, rested, and cooked a warm lunch (not me, but I agree). Some of the answers for the worst thing about the remote day included getting rained on, being at home alone (without other Learners), couldn’t sit on the dock at the lake, kinda bored, didn’t do much, can’t be together, missed out on the Artists Studio offering, and being inside. The few answers for making remote days better were all pretty much the same—more offerings.

Checking in with each other at the end of our remote day

Checking in with each other at the end of our remote day

For me it was a so-so day. I am glad that we could be together in some way, even if it was remote. I missed the opportunities to just fall into conversation with Learners just sitting around on the dock or going for a hike, but I was glad to be able to talk to Learners who are not currently in my cell. I was hoping to be able to get some more administrative work done, but just like last year I found the day frustrating because there’s not much that I can get done when it is broken up so much. Which makes my morning work routine (5:00-9:00 a.m.) all the more important.

After we adjourned the meeting many of the Learners left, but several stuck around to talk. As soon as we adjourned the Learners just let loose on chatting, laughing, and telling stories. That’s the vibe that is largely missing on remote days. That spontaneous conversation is something that naturally happens when we are together in-person, but on remote days it takes a called meeting with the time and space to linger afterwards. Something to remember.