Let's K12 Better

Schooling Through The Pandemic… What’s Changed?

March 17, 2022 Mom Of All Capes Season 3 Episode 2
Schooling Through The Pandemic… What’s Changed?
Let's K12 Better
More Info
Let's K12 Better
Schooling Through The Pandemic… What’s Changed?
Mar 17, 2022 Season 3 Episode 2
Mom Of All Capes

We started our podcast to discuss K12 education as a project and a response to COVID-19 with our first episode, “Schooling Through An Apocalypse.” What’s changed in education since lockdown happened in March 2020? Lots!

In this episode, we discuss Virtual Academy, how schooling has evolved over the last two years, and more. Mom gets feedback on her parenting during the pandemic… and there is a bird by our window looking for love. (Shoutout to the Vernal Equinox! What, whaaat!!!)

Are you saddled with a troubling situation? Curious to hear what we think about a particular issue? Send us your questions! Tell us “What’s On Your Mind?” your query may end up on the Let’s K12 Better podcast in our community letters section. Send your celebrations and questions to this form or email us: LetsK12Better@gmail.com! 

Listen to the episode that started it all, Season 1, Episode 1! 
Schooling Through An Apocalypse.

Our community question touched upon education and Black students and educators. Here's what Amber's reading that she mentioned in the episode...
Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching by Jarvis R. Givens
The Education oF Blacks in the South 1860-1935 by James D. Anderson

Love our podcast? Rate. Review. Share! 
Subscribe to our newsletter: https://bit.ly/LetsK12BetterMail

Music written and produced by Garvey Mortley
The Let’s K12Better podcast is written and produced by Amber Coleman-Mortley, Garvey Mortley, Naima Mortley, and Sofia Mortley.

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

We started our podcast to discuss K12 education as a project and a response to COVID-19 with our first episode, “Schooling Through An Apocalypse.” What’s changed in education since lockdown happened in March 2020? Lots!

In this episode, we discuss Virtual Academy, how schooling has evolved over the last two years, and more. Mom gets feedback on her parenting during the pandemic… and there is a bird by our window looking for love. (Shoutout to the Vernal Equinox! What, whaaat!!!)

Are you saddled with a troubling situation? Curious to hear what we think about a particular issue? Send us your questions! Tell us “What’s On Your Mind?” your query may end up on the Let’s K12 Better podcast in our community letters section. Send your celebrations and questions to this form or email us: LetsK12Better@gmail.com! 

Listen to the episode that started it all, Season 1, Episode 1! 
Schooling Through An Apocalypse.

Our community question touched upon education and Black students and educators. Here's what Amber's reading that she mentioned in the episode...
Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching by Jarvis R. Givens
The Education oF Blacks in the South 1860-1935 by James D. Anderson

Love our podcast? Rate. Review. Share! 
Subscribe to our newsletter: https://bit.ly/LetsK12BetterMail

Music written and produced by Garvey Mortley
The Let’s K12Better podcast is written and produced by Amber Coleman-Mortley, Garvey Mortley, Naima Mortley, and Sofia Mortley.

Support the Show.

Season 1 Clip  00:01

Why haven't we decided to stop and pivot and take a moment to reflect on what has and has not worked? And so like for me, you know, after a couple weeks of actually not even a couple, like after the first week of online school and helping, you know, my third grader and login, unsuccessfully the first time to our zoom meeting, harassing my middle schooler to make sure that she made it to her classes on time, even though she's super conscientious. Or just checking in with my fifth grader and saying, Hey, did you get that in? Hey, what are you doing? Hey, is there something happening right now, all while I'm trying to work? I was like, this is really insane.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  00:49

Hi, welcome to the let's K 12. Better podcast. This podcast is a project between me Mom of all capes and my kids.

Garvey  01:05

In our podcast, we will cover a variety of subjects involving K 12, education and family life. 

Sofia  01:10

We will talk about the ways that parents kids and educators can improve K 12 education and family life. 

Naima  01:17

Hit subscribe to get alerts when new episodes drop, and follow us on social media at Let's K 12. Better.

Sofia  01:32

Let's jump into season three, episode two of the Let's K12 Better podcast.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  01:42

Alright, we are back and we are excited for the second episode, right gang? Yes. Okay. So, this episode, we're gonna just talk a lot about what it's been like to go to school during COVID-19. We're going to do tons of callbacks to our first podcast episode, Schooling Through An Apocalypse. I think that there's a lot of growth that has happened since March, actually, that episode dropped in April. I also want to say that there is a bird that persistently is hanging out outside of our windows screaming. So trying to find a mate. It's springtime, everybody's looking for love. So we just want to let everyone know that we'll try to edit that sound out but not sure it's gonna leave. So good luck to you, Mr. or Mrs. Bird. Anyway, alright, let's jump into this episode.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  02:50

In March of 2020, we went into "for real" lockdown. I'm still in the process of understanding it all and processing all the emotions that came out of that. Not only were we dealing with the collective fear of and the uncertainty of COVID-19, and shelter in place, but we were also getting a pile on from the universe, as far as like racial reckoning, where we have this moment where we're faced, and we're forced actually to look in the mirror, when it came to the experiences of marginalized people, specifically Black people. And then also Asian folks. Later on, I think the following, actually the following March. So in thinking about all of those things, the continued question I asked myself was, "Should schools continue during a moment of collective trauma or collective fear?"... And I have to say that there's a lot of mixed feelings that I have, when it comes to how do we properly and appropriately continue society while also addressing issues and concerns that are happening in in a moment that impact literally everybody on the planet. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  04:15

So, you know, the kids and I, we are so thankful to have this opportunity to have started the podcast back in April of 2020. Had we not gone into shelter in place, we would not have been pushed to do this. But you know, I also just am interested to hear what they have to say about their experiences during this time, and they will also be giving me feedback on how I could have done better as a parent during the last two years. So I'm excited to hear what they have to say

Amber Coleman-Mortley  05:06

Alright, so we're gonna have this family conversation everyone your mic is on. So like, all the weird things you do off-mic are gonna be captured, just FYI. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  05:16

Alright, so the first question I have for you guys, because I would love feedback be as honest and but appropriately honest as you can, what has it been like to have some of your most formidable years experience during a global pandemic, and racial reckoning? Who's Wait, who's going first? Alright, you can go first, and then you'll go next.

Sofia  05:36

During COVID-19 Even though it's like really struggle, like, it wasn't struggling, but I couldn't go outside and love going outside. So that was really like a kind of problem.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  05:47

How old were you? Or What grade were you in? When I was started?

Sofia  05:51

I was just starting third grade, basically. Like I was halfway through the year about actually this time, like, two or three years ago. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  05:59


Sofia  06:00

And like, it was really like, cuz I was so annoyed cuz I'm actually still and so energetic. And like, during the first time, the COVID when it was locked down. Like it was kinda like, kind of hard. But because I had a great like family and a great community, it was kind of the is getting easier.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  06:19

Okay. Alright. I appreciate that.

Garvey  06:21

Can I go next? 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  06:22

Yeah, you can go next. 

Garvey  06:23

Okay, so I'm just thankful that we were home during the racial reckoning part. Because at school, I was already getting bullied for my hair. And I knew that all the stuff going on kids would make jokes not towards only me, but other Black kids at school. There's not many Black kids at school. So obviously, there's gonna be like, ignorance and stuff. So and already there was Asian kids getting bullied because of Coronavirus. And getting blamed for it because it started in China, supposedly, so yeah, I'm just thankful that a lot... Well, actually, when we went back to school, there was bullying at our school happening right away. So yeah, I'm just thankful that we didn't have to, I didn't have to experience or watch bullying happen.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  07:04

Right. And just knowing that your classmates were the ones who were doing this, like, how does that make you feel? 

Garvey  07:15

Doing what? 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  07:16

Like, your classmates are the ones who make fun of students, other students who either would are Asian, or are Black, who are different, like, you know, what is that? How does that make you feel? Like, what are what are you like, what needs to be done? Do you know I'm saying like...

Garvey  07:36

Well, we can't do anything about it. Obviously, parents are the reason because like, say, at your house, you're teaching your kids that Black people are violent. Now, when your kid goes to school, they're going to assume that Black people are violent, either make jokes about it, or not feel comfortable around Black kids because of the stereotype their parents put on them. Or the parent at home, is making them feel insecure, or social media is making them feel insecure. And so they think they have to bully others. So I don't know. It's like too big of a problem like to say like, 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  08:13

So it's a big ball of yarn. That and with a lot of layers. 

Garvey  08:16


Garvey  08:17

Okay. All right. Well, I appreciate your honesty there. How about you? Like what has it been like to have some of your most formidable years, experience during a global pandemic and racial reckoning?

Naima  08:30

Let me just preface this, it was awesome.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  08:33

Okay, all right. Tell me more. 

Naima  08:35

For me, it was really like the beginning of like, I guess, being a tween for me. So it was kind of like, I was exposed to more things kind of than I was previously. And because we're inside all the time, it's not like I'm going outside, like, 'til the streetlights come on, with my friends riding bikes throughout the neighborhood or whatever. It's more like I'm on the internet, interacting with my friends via text or FaceTiming them. And I think I probably would have turned out different if it was like, the pandemic hadn't been like, you know, you're inside now. Like, for one, I would be probably more open to go outside. But for two, I probably wouldn't have made some of the connections I've made today because of going to virtual school and be in because of the pandemic.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  09:37

So for you, it's been a wonderful experience. I I appreciate that. I appreciate that. Thank you guys for being so open with that last question. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  09:46

My next question for you is, what could I as your mom, you know, we're all in here together. What could I have done better to support you during this time? I really want to know, you know, we're gonna put me on blast. out here, but what could I have done better? To support y'all?

Sofia  10:04

Um, overall this has been a great time. Like, right. But there's only like really one thing that I would change not directly towards you, but like something that we could like, I think that we could have gone outside a little more. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  10:18

I agree. 

Sofia  10:19

And because like I'm kind of an "outrovert"

Amber Coleman-Mortley  10:22

"Extrovert?", you're totally extrovert! 

Sofia  10:25

Because like I like because I'm also energetic and I always want to ride my bike, but not every time is the best time to do it. So. But yeah,

Amber Coleman-Mortley  10:34

So going outside and being out in nature more is something that we could have done a lot better. 

Sofia  10:40


Amber Coleman-Mortley  10:40

Yeah. And you know what, hopefully, now as things are warming up, we will get out more the days are getting longer shout out to the vernal equinox happening March 20th... what, whaaaaat! We can have a lot more time. It's hard in the winter, you know, it gets dark at like, 4:30. And it's like, whoa, what? So yes, we will definitely spend some more time outside. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  11:06

Alright. How about you Naima? What could I have done to better support you? Like think all the way back to March 2020, two years ago to now; what could I have done to better support you during this time? 

Naima  11:21

Well, I don't really have anything. You've, you've been pretty, like, flexible with us. So. And like,

Amber Coleman-Mortley  11:27

What are some of the ways then? 

Naima  11:29

well, like... 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  11:30

And y'all don't have to don't be nervous like... if I sucked, let me know! [inaudible]

Naima  11:33

I definitely... like, you would you were more open to letting us like express like, our wants our needs or like negotiating. You would be very open to collaboration. Like say we wanted to go to bed at like 3:30 AM, which, you know, that's like, unreasonable, but you were like, our bedtime is 10:30. Then we maybe like negotiate me at like, 11 PM, like something like that, like you would be more flexible. And we're open minded to like different choices, because now we're in a space where we're home all the time. And yeah, and it's made the environment like, way more comfortable. You know, like, I could come to you with almost anything.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  12:20

Awww, well, I hope that that "almost anything" becomes "anything". Okay. I love you. [inaudible teasing]

Amber Coleman-Mortley  12:28

Don't, don't be jealous of our love session just now. Okay, we are passing love hearts back and forth. Well, thank you so much for that. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  12:39

What about you? How could I have supported you better during this time? 

Garvey  12:44

Um, I don't have anything because it's good. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  12:47

You don't have anything because it's good because you don't want to talk or it actually was. 

Garvey  12:51

It actually was. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  12:52

Okay. Let's give an example then. Give an example. 

Garvey  12:55

Why are we put on the spot like this? 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  12:57

Yo, cuz that's our show. Okay, you don't have any examples? 

Garvey  13:08


Amber Coleman-Mortley  13:10

It just was amazing. 

Garvey  13:11

I agree with Naima. I don't agree with Sofia.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  13:14

Don't wait, why don't you agree with Sofia?

Garvey  13:17

Going outside? 

Naima  13:19

She's the only one who likes going outside? 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  13:21

Sofia's the only one that likes going outside. 

Naima  13:23

Yes, we are throwing so much shade at you by not liking to go outside. 

Garvey  13:28

Let's do the next question.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  13:30

You got to give an example. 

Garvey  13:31

This is not even like a question. [inaudible] It's good.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  13:37

What is good about being in here? What are some things that we do that is good about being in here? 

Group  13:43

We dance. Video Games. 

Sofia  13:46

We make jokes. We play board games. 

Naima  13:49

We do have a very casual kind of relationship.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  13:53

We do. What do you mean by that? 

Naima  13:55

Like, it's not very like, monotonous. Like, 

Garvey  13:59

This is not "Red Table Talk" (show) 

Group  14:00

[inaudible] [laughter]  

Naima  14:05

We're making up for your turn, Garvey. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  14:07

Anyway, so what are you, what do you mean by that? 

Naima  14:09

Like, it's like we make like lots of jokes. Like we hang out like very casually, like it's not... 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  14:15

Do you still respect me though? 

Naima  14:16

I respect you like, you're one of the number one people I respect. Like, if you were like, "Go clean my room like my room was messy". Okay. Oh seven. I'm gonna go clean my room.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  14:28

Okay, okay. All right. Well, I mean, I'm glad that you guys feel comfortable. You're like super excited about this game. What are you excited about? Oh, see,

Naima  14:41

Making some dough. She She Jack Manifold grind, 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  14:47

Right. "Sigma Grind". Anyway. I'm glad that, I'm glad that you guys have felt comfortable. What could I have done that would have made you uncomfortable? What are some things like that's something I do want to know? Like... 

Garvey  15:03

I can go first. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  15:03

Yeah, you see now you have something to say. Let's see what... 

Garvey  15:06


Group  15:07


Amber Coleman-Mortley  15:07

Whatever. What asking for feedback?

Garvey  15:10

Like on live??? We can have a family meeting.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  15:14

Okay. All right. That's true. That's true. We are what I want... So what I'm trying to do is literally model you know, hopefully, other caregivers and educators and adults to be open to feedback from the young people in their lives. That's all. You know, 

Garvey  15:33

I don't have anything. I really liked it. I liked how you parent us. I like how we live. I'm... I like it. I like it. It's good.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  15:41

Alright, fine, fine. I'll give you guys a survey later to fill out a Google form. Okay, you tell me what could What could I have done? That would have actually made you feel very uncomfortable? During this time?

Naima  16:00

Like Garvey, I don't think there's really like, anything you did to make us feel uncomfortable, 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  16:05

Not what I did. But yeah, but like, what are some things? 

Naima  16:07

Um, yeah, but like, I think that if you like, we're like, even though we're in COVID, you still have to, like, do this, and this and this, and like, piling things on us, that would have been, that would have been like, way more stressful. Because I feel like it would have been even more stressful back then. Because I was about to start Middle School. And, I mean, I'm pretty sure everyone hearing this above the age of like, 10 can kind of relate to that. 

Naima  16:40

But like, it's starting middle school is extremely stressful for me because I was like, like, what's going on, and then we're also in the middle of a pandemic. And so like, piling multiple and multiple things on is, like, would be like, a comfortable situation, 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  16:56

We actually had to, like, grow... during that first year, you and I, both of us. Like, I know, I had to kind of reset my expectations of like, what middle school could be and like how I can parent you better. So you know, I just want to say that I grew as a parent, because of YOU. You know, like... 

Sofia  17:22

Awwww, expressing feelings [claps] 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  17:25

Yo, whatever, like, whatever. Anyway, 

Sofia  17:29

This is a real mother and daughter moment guys. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  17:30

Okay, stop, stop anyway. Anyway, so I just want to just thank you for being patient with me. And working with me, because we we... middle school was not easy. The first year was not easy for us. And we we definitely got to a better place. And I just want to thank you for that. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  17:53

So what could I have done that made you feel uncomfortable? Yeah, right. Trapping us here, when the when the sky is clear. That rhymed! [laughter]

Sofia  18:08

Nevermind. Now I have to change what I was going to say.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  18:13

Alright, but what what,

Sofia  18:15

Um, something that would make me feel uncomfortable, if like, if like, we couldn't access the internet. Because in a time, where basically the whole world is the internet right now, because of the state we're living in. So that would be... it wouldn't like necessarily make me uncomfortable, but like, if I just could only go on my Chromebook, go to school, do my homework, do my other work, and then just go to bed or read a book or something? Like, like, like, it would be just like not really, as fun or as interesting how that as time is with us.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  18:58

Hmm. So restricting your ability to be on the internet and explore what have been not awesome. 

Sofia  19:05


Amber Coleman-Mortley  19:06

So then, coming back to you what groundwork have I done to make sure that I can trust you with the power of the internet? Right? So it's not like I'm just like opening the door and you're running out into the internet world? What are some things that we did to make sure you'd be okay?

Sofia  19:23

Some things that we did where we actually set up, like some kind of rules or things to do on a situation. For example, if like, you if someone messaged you, and like you didn't feel comfortable, or someone sent you a picture that was inappropriate to like to bring you in the room, and to like, ask what to do. And like if it's get really serious, maybe call the police. But, um, yeah, yeah. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  19:27

And I also I'm always asking you... 

Sofia  19:46

What are you doing on the internet? Who are you playing with?

Amber Coleman-Mortley  19:58

Right and not in like a non-trusting way, just saying, "Tell me more", Right? So like, What game are you playing? Who are you playing with? Tell me more about this experience. I want to learn more, because as a parent. I don't know everything. I do not know... Everything. 

Sofia  20:11

It's not like you don't know "anything". 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  20:14

I appreciate that. Appreciate that. All right, okay. Okay. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  20:18

Around the five minute and the seven minute mark of episode one of season one Schooling Through An Apocalypse, I kind of talked about the ways in which the school system is was trying to continue business as usual. During a time that was completely unusual. 

Season 1 Clip  20:37

"... Just thinking about the ways in which the K 12 Education Machine is still trying to function business as usual, during these unprecedented times. Many districts, you know, have decided, okay, like, this is happening, we're going to throw out technology out there giving students and educators tutorials on how to use video webinar platforms or not right taking a stance not to, you know, providing resources online or packets online. Because K 12 education has to keep going..."

Amber Coleman-Mortley  21:21

So I kind of want to ask you guys, like, what were some things that you were like, this is just totally ridiculous and old and arcane about the structure of schools that you were like, why are we doing this? Right? And then what were some things that maybe have evolved out of that to be better? Alright, so I'm gonna let you go first, Naima.

Naima  21:42

I feel like how school is structured like how it was like, like you the basic like, I guess, for me, would be elementary school like structural rules, like you had the first period and you have like, a small break to get ready for like switching classes, and then you go to your math class, stuff like that... how the school schedules made was kind of unsustainable, because it was just following the normal school schedule. And now in my opinion, like, our virtual school, like that, we go to at least has a more well structured schedule for like the type of school we do.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  22:16

So what is, what are the changes that you experienced, that you experienced for virtual school that led you to this opinion?

Naima  22:24

So for me, like, they would put like A-days and B-days, instead of having all of the classes, and then like one or two alternating classes, or like an alternating club, and now, as well as having like an advisory period at lunch, which I think also kind of helps, so that there's like a sort of on and off advisory slash, kind of like study hour kind of period that you can have to kind of rest from your day. And I think it's very helpful because some people like get kind of overwhelmed, in like situations are uncomfortable, as we stated. And so I think that structure is like, better because it's less overwhelming, in a sense.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  23:10

I like that. I like that. Okay, yeah you can go. 

Garvey  23:12

Okay, so, um, something that was unsustainable, right? 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  23:16

Unsustainable or outdated, or you're just like, why are we doing this? 

Garvey  23:19

Okay, so forcing people like, my school, it got to the point where it was hybrid, and then almost everybody had to go back to school. And I thought that that was just ridiculous, because a lot of people like felt like unsafe. And doing hybrid, I guess was like a, like, we're gonna go back. And like, everybody wants to go back really badly. And then like, right now, I think my home school is completely back to school. And I don't think that's good. I think that's like, like, I think it's just ridiculous again, because like some people, a lot of people got COVID. And, yeah, I just, I don't know, just the fact that they were forcing people to go back now. And the school that we go to, there's a long waiting list. So it's not like you really get to choose unless you're like, first come first serve. So.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  24:16

So for you being virtual, the entire time has been beneficial. You like the way it's structured. So how is it structured? Other than you being virtual, because it's clear, you don't want to be at school, right? Like I heard you. I heard you too, sis. So and you're not you guys are doing virtual through our district, which is really amazing. But I want to know, like, what about virtual school, made like, is making this a wonderful experience for you because some kids didn't have a good experience virtually. So how, why are you having a good experience?

Garvey  24:56

Um, I think I'm having a good experience because since the County, teachers actually want to be there, and they actually care about teaching, like before, when everybody's forced into lockdown, of course, like some teachers did not care to teach good because they want to they taught better in the classroom or they just want to go to the classroom.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  25:17

So strengths and weaknesses. 

Garvey  25:20

Yeah. And so then like, again, like a lot teachers, they liked being home because they have families at home, or they felt safe at home, or they're like, pushing towards elderly. So yeah, I think that's why... what's the question? 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  25:35

So wait, so you're saying 

Garvey  25:37

What makes it better? 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  25:38

Yeah, what makes it better. 

Garvey  25:39

Yeah, that the teachers actually care. To be there. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  25:42

Okay. So like for you, it's all about the fact that your teachers have selected to be in the virtual experience. And so they're motivated. They know how to teach on a virtual platform, and they're excited to be there. 

Garvey  25:57

Yeah. And another thing that... 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  25:59

We do have to like, realize, though, that most teachers go to school, their, their program in college or graduate school, to teach in front of kids in a classroom. It's a completely pedagogically very different experience. And then we got to give them credit, you know what I'm saying? Because, like, yeah, they just got thrown on a Zoom. And you know what I'm saying? Like, it's like, what is this? 

Garvey  26:27

Well, soon, the standard will be... I'm predicting that like, in a few years, or maybe even like, next year, next two years, since I said, again, like our school district is actually funding this, and I think it's permanent. So I'm assuming that maybe later, everybody will have an opportunity like this, hopefully. And then colleges will have the standard of like, a virtual teaching class to elevate the

Amber Coleman-Mortley  26:54

accessibility. Yeah, yeah. Because that is one thing that did emerge from this experience is the level the ability, the accessibility, of opportunities.

Garvey  27:05

And, oh, sorry, another thing that makes it better again, it's like, they don't force us, they force us to participate, because obviously, like, it's school, and you, you didn't choose to be here all the time. But most of the time, again, like

Amber Coleman-Mortley  27:16

Most people chose Virtual Academy. Actually, all the families who are in the Virtual Academy have opted into this experience. 

Garvey  27:32

Like, um, a lot of the time, during the first year of the pandemic, I mean, they didn't really care if you turn your camera on, but it was like, "PLEASE, turn your camera on". But now they feel like they don't feel more comfortable. They, of course, they'd like cameras, but they're not like, please, please, please, like begging you for like, if you turn your camera, like, I'd appreciate it, but I'm not gonna force you because it's not, you know... 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  27:54

So they're not equating camera on with learning, or participating or being present academically. 

Garvey  28:04

Yeah. And of course, like, you're there, like, obviously, because they can see you. But they're not gonna say, Oh, you're gonna get a D because your camera's off. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  28:14

Right. And I think that, again, we've evolved what it means to be present, academically, what is going on in students homes, right. Like, I think that was a shock for a lot of educators who may have thought, you know, these, this group of kids that I'm teaching here, these five students are struggling, whatever, whatever. And then when they got in COVID, they really, the pandemic and shelter in place, they really could see what those students' home environments were like. There were some really horrific, scary, you know, not great conditions. And then some students had amazing conditions and still didn't want to participate. So let's keep it real, that there are some kids out there who they have everything out there for them. And still, they just don't want to try. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  29:05

But I'm gonna ask you next, what are some things about the virtual schooling experience that have evolved right, some things that you were just like, what why are we doing this? And then to now be like, YAS, I'm glad we learned this?!

Sofia  29:21

So actually, so something that has evolved, so basically, I like how so Breakout Rooms in my class we have, like... our teachers actually like so two things. So basically, a teachers actually put Breakout Rooms at least every Friday. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  29:41

Oh, what happens in breakout rooms? 

Sofia  29:43

In Breakout Rooms you can basically talk, share your camera, show what you did, do whatever you want, right? And it's basically I think it's like evolved in like, at the beginning of class, like when you first come in, when you sitting in the hallway, you're talking and sitting next to your friends. So I think that's... 

Naima  30:02

Sofia, are you talking about like how like in school like you would be like in the hallway with your friends or like at your table with your classmates? Like a simulation of that?

Amber Coleman-Mortley  30:14

Yeah, yeah. So like, it's trying to give you guys the opportunity to connect with each other, and communicate with that with each other in a non-learning way, but in the socia-emotional learning way, where you need that, especially as elementary students, you need that opportunity to get to know people to talk about things that are not the learning. Okay? Okay. I mean, middle school and high schoolers need it too, so let me just say that.

Sofia  30:40

And another thing I'm actually going to say is, I made a lot of friends in Breakout Rooms. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  30:44

Oh, that's awesome. I mean I already knew that. 

Sofia  30:48

One of my closest friends are made and, but she went back to school. One of my closest friends that I made and online was in a Breakout Room. But another actually thing that has evolved, like from things in the regular class, right, is like, so this this thing, I don't know if you guys know about it, but it's called a Flipgrid. And like, it's the same thing we actually do every Friday after we do Breakout Rooms. But we do Flipgrid where people can dance on it. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  31:19

Shoutout to Flipgrid. 

Sofia  31:21

Yeah, they can like play games on it. They can share links on it, they can, but it has to be child friendly, of course. But like, it's like really cool, because people share artwork, people sing, people dance, people do a bunch of other things. And it's really cool to see how creative other people are with their ideas.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  31:39

So I think it's very amazing... What you're highlighting here is that educators have learned how to trust kids on virtual, in virtual spaces, how to create containers for their students to be able to make emotional connections with others, to share and to have conversations. So I think that that's super amazing. Because yeah, at the beginning, people were kind of worried like, should we have the chat on? There's someone spamming the chat? People are zoom bombing, we don't want people to zoom bomb into a classroom and show inappropriate stuff. 

Naima  32:19

So I have two things. Okay, first thing, I think it's a great point about like, the trusting because at the beginning of virtual Virtual Academy, most of if not all of my classes, had the chat off. But now this year, all of my classes, they let us talk like pretty openly to each other. And I think that's really nice that like, they're now starting to be like, okay, like, you know,

Amber Coleman-Mortley  32:44

This is a school, so let's be school. 

Garvey  32:47

And we'd have no other opportunity to talk.

Naima  32:48

That's because we don't have the in the hallway time. 

Garvey  32:51

Now, they made this thing it's called Lunch-something. And you're able to go and eat lunch and like, talk to people. 

Group  33:03

[inaudible discussion about Lunch Bunch]

Amber Coleman-Mortley  33:04

Well, for them it's probably Lunch Bunch

Garvey  33:06

No it's not. Yeah, it's called. It's called Something-Cafe. And like, basically, it starts at like 12 and ends at 12:30. And like, you can sit in there and talk to your friends. It's like it's not a Lunch Bunch...

Amber Coleman-Mortley  33:20

Alright. But for elementary school kids, it probably is a Lunch Bunch, because you do kind of want to make sure things are going okay.

Naima  33:29

Um and then my other thing... Why is Cool Math, who snitched? Why is Cool Math Games still blocked again? [laughter] Unblock Cool Math Hames 2022...

Sofia  33:43

Another quick kind of bonus thing is. So basically in my class, though, like at the beginning, I understand why the teachers had to find another way to communicate because like, basically, on the first day of school, my teachers wanted to get to know, like, get to know each other. So they open the chat, and it just started spamming... 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  33:46

Everyone started spamming the chat? 

Sofia  34:07

So and the teachers probably like, Okay, we have to find out another way to do this, but not have it tooooo open so let people can spam the chat. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  34:16

Yeah, yeah. Well, we're all we're all learning. Yeah, we are all learning. Nice. So we are, I think the wonderful thing about watching you guys participate in Virtual Academy and I have just had the wonderful experience as a parent. I think it's been great is how education is adapting to current times. And so I just want to you know, give our Virtual Academy a shout out, but also give all educators using virtual means, a shout out using great tools like Flipgrid and other virtual and digital platforms and edtech in a way that makes students feel as if they are in the classroom; feel like they can connect feel like they can still share and have a meaningful and worthwhile educational experience. 

Naima  35:16

And why would I want to do that? 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  35:17

Yeah. You do. You do. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  35:20

Okay. Alright. So you guys have mentioned Virtual Academy and we attend Virtual Academy through our district. So you guys are... shout out to that. Okay. All right. So you guys attend Virtual Academy? What is virtual academy? Why don't you tell? Nope. She's going first. She's going first No, she's first. Way to be excited.

Naima  35:47

Virtual Academy is basically exactly what it says it's a virtual academy. It's basically school. It's basically school. Just online. You know, it's usually done on Zoom. But the cool people you teach on Discord

Amber Coleman-Mortley  36:05

What your class is on Discord? 

Naima  36:07


Amber Coleman-Mortley  36:08

Okay. What the heck? Anyway, so the students are on Discord?

Naima  36:14

Yeah, like, I guess that kind of leads to the next questions spoiler warning. But like, it's basically like, we're teaching through means of like, the school supported like website, which is Canvas and like, a Google classroom or like Zoom like different, like websites instead of a classroom and some different worksheets.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  36:36

So I have a question. Is it as challenging?  Is it the same as [in-person] school? Or is it easier than school? Um, meaning like, the curriculum? Right? So how do you feel about the curriculum?

Naima  36:51

In my opinion, the curriculum is the same. But like, how...

Amber Coleman-Mortley  36:54

Well some people don't know it's the same. Some people might think because you're on a virtual space, it's easy.

Naima  36:59

The pace of it. For some my classes, I will say the curriculum is the same as what I've, from what I've known, but the pace that we learn is more flexible from class to class, because we're in a virtual setting, 

Garvey  37:13

They can... Can add too? They can always, they can give assignments faster and more efficiently. And they can also communicate with us off Zoom all the time. Because like, since we're virtual, we all know to check our email vigorously. Because if we weren't virtual, like why are you checking your email, we're going to school. So yeah, they can give actually, in a lot of our classes were ahead of the curriculum, I think, because the teachers like, it's just so much easier. You don't have to, I mean, obviously, some kids are not going to do it. But you don't have to waste time handing out papers, you just give us the link, or you just tell us where to go. You can just share your screen, and we can all see everything. So like it's just so much easier. And that's why I think it's easier to get finished with the curriculum, because a lot of times in school, I know that we don't even get close to finishing the actual curriculum, because you're stuck on the same thing because it takes time to collect papers, grade papers. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  38:11

So there's a lot of transition time that Virtual Academy doesn't require, that you can get right to the lesson.

Naima  38:17

As well as, adding on to Garvey adding on to me... speaking of like, assignments, and like curriculum wise, because of online school, like some of the like, kind of I guess upsides of it is like you can use some assignments you can use like auto grading features, like I will be able to get a quiz score. Like say I had a quiz that I messed up seven questions out of like 27, I will be able to get which ones I got wrong because of the auto grading. And I'd be able to learn about those questions and be able to take the retake faster. Like instead of having to turn it in, the teacher has to grade it. And then I have to wait to get the retake for like, a few weeks after because we're moving on in the lesson. And I need to get out a whole different like resource. Like it's all there virtually.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  39:07

Right. So you like to have the access to the feedback, right? So this is... I forgot. Oh my God, pedagogically I know the word. Assessments! Wow, my mind blanked for a second. I am in education. I know. Right? I failed the test of understanding and knowing what we call tests. So ASSESSMENTS, you get feedback from your assessments faster on the virtual platform. You're saying then when you're in school, when you were in school? 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  39:35

What is what is being in these digital spaces training you to do? Right? So like you guys are talking about email and stuff like

Naima  39:44

It's training us for more flexible jobs like you work virtually.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  39:51

I do work from home. I've always worked from home. I've worked from home since like 2014

Naima  39:56

And now it's getting popularized. But even back then, like It was more flexible, like not saying that you were just able to do whatever you wanted, you still had set work hours, you have to go to work, like we can't disturb you when you're on a meeting. Because like, it's important, that's work. But now it's like, people are starting to recognize that it's more flexible to work from home. And it's less like, not time consuming, but like, kind of time consuming in a way that's like it's less efficient.

Garvey  40:31

It's teaching us adult skills. So like when we went to regular school, we didn't check our email, like I said, because you're going to school, like, why do you need to check your email? But now like, I know, email is going to be the new standard, because obviously, like, it's fast. Yeah, exactly. It is the standard, like, why are you sending mail now? Because an email. So when I went to regular school, I was never taught to do that. And now, I mean, you taught me to do that. And like also school, because that's where we're getting all the information. Um, that's a skill.

Garvey  41:06

Typing, typing, because like, obviously, you need to learn how to type fast, and we're not writing stuff anymore with our hands. What else is it teaching us? It's teaching us email writing skills, too. Because when we were at school, I mean, I got taught by one teacher how to write an email. But this year, I got taught by several teachers, which was really helpful, how to write up not professional, but like, when you professional... 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  41:37

Right, when you have to self advocate for your grades. That's a that's a professional email, you know? 

Garvey  41:42

And like, yeah, so I think those, this doesn't teach us how to do everything, but it's like more than regular school. 

Naima  41:51

Can I add, there's also like, they're teaching us more of a, I guess, I want to like phrase it like as digital connection and collaboration, if that makes sense. Where it's like, now, because we're doing most things digitally. It's more like this is how to communicate with others, like, you don't just have to meet them for a playdate after school or talk to them in the hallway. Because, like, and I guess that like makes your relationships with the people in your school stronger as well. Because it's giving you a more...

Amber Coleman-Mortley  42:24

I love that. Because there's a lot of folks who are saying that connecting on virtual platforms makes weaker connections. So why would, why did you say that it's stronger. Because there's a lot like folks are like, "ah, when kids are on digital spaces, or when humans are on digital spaces, it's weaker, it's terrible. It's not that great, that doesn't mean anything". So you're pushing back on that with that statement. Hopefully folks will listen to you. Why do you think it's stronger?

Naima  42:53

Okay, so I might be kind of biased because I do like digital mediums more, whether it's like, anime, TV, video games, like Discord, I guess, Twitch streaming, stuff like that. I like I like digital means more, because it's easier to express yourself kind of. Yeah. Like, there's, it's kind of like, instead of meeting, riding your bike to the park, with your friends, or having a playdate, or like just talking to them in the hallway, you actually have to make an effort to like, keep talking to them regularly. And so the people you don't do that you're just slowly kind of like, not talking to them anymore. But the people that you are keeping up with them, or even if you're not talking to them for a while, and then you talk back. Like, it builds a stronger connection because you guys are making an effort to stay friends. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  43:46

So you have to be on a digital space... Intentional. You can't be like dependent upon happenstance or convenience,

Naima  43:56

Because that's what used to happen predigital. And like, like, sure I like for like this kind of a personal example like sure, like I had like one or two friends phone numbers and like, fifth grade, but like for virtual, I wasn't really keeping, keeping in contact with many of my friends because I didn't have a phone until like last year or like the beginning of COVID around. So I didn't really have like someone to call it which usually we'd meet up our parents will set up a playdate for us. But now I have a phone like I have Discord and I'm making an effort to talk to my friends and like the people I'm connected with. Like regularly. 

Garvey  44:38

Can I also add something? Actually, speaking of like the parents setting a playdate for you. Um, being online more has also taught me like planning skills if you know I'm saying like, now my friends and I like of course have to talk to you first like, "Hey, Mom is okay if I hang out with this person? And then what days are we free?" Like I'm now, I have to do it. You know, like, it's not like our parents anymore. Like now I actually have to like, talk to my mom talk to them, like learn how to schedule stuff, if you know I'm saying so yeah, that's also something that's good, I guess.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  45:12

Awesome. Awesome. One more thing about time management being different on the virtual platform versus in person, right? What are some differences with time management that you guys are noticing?

Naima  45:25

Time is kind of like time is more fluid. Like, in a sense that, like, I could text my friend at 3:30 AM. And they could reply at like, 10 PM

Amber Coleman-Mortley  45:36

Wow I'm a bad parent.  [laughter] 

Naima  45:38

No, I'm like saying like, because we have means like... 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  45:41

How sway your phone is in my room at like 8:30? 

Naima  45:44

No. I'm saying like not saying like, I'm texting my friends in like the middle of the night...

Amber Coleman-Mortley  45:48

Are you telling on yourself?

Naima  45:49

But like I'm saying like, I'm saying like, if I were to text my friend at 3:30 AM, instead of them having to like, text me back at 3:31, they could text me back at 8:30 or 5pm. Like conversations are extended... [inaudible] 

Garvey  46:05

And actually want to add since a lot of... I think most of my friends live internationally now. I know exactly what she means. Like, they can message me anytime. And I can always reply anytime that I want. 

Naima  46:19

Timezones are flexible, because like Garvey says if you have a friend that lives internationally, and the time zones don't match up, you can reply any time and they can reply anytime. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  46:29

She just said that. 

Garvey  46:32

I'd also like to add on to what I just said...  it's just like Naima said it's more helpful, like, now, like when you're in person, like you have to be there. But you don't actually have to be there now. You can say whatever you want. Whenever you want, however you want. But it's also bad... 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  46:54

I don't understand what that means. 

Garvey  46:55

That's also bad. Because, you know, like, some people talk without... say you're texting, and you don't use like, tone in your conversations. Like say like an exclamation mark like to show you're happy. And like, you're literally just like typing a sentence. You don't know how they're saying it. Like when you're in person you're like, 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  47:18

You can look at their person's face or hear them. 

Garvey  47:19

Right. Happy and then like, exactly. Then when you're texting, like "how are you?"... It's like, do you even care? 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  47:25

Hmm, that's real. That's real? Well, I want to ask you. Like, what is virtual academy? Well they've already defined what Virtual Academy is, but like, you know, how do you stay connected to friends? And how are you experiencing it? Because you're in elementary school? You're about to go to middle school. So how are you experiencing Virtual Academy as an elementary schooler?

Sofia  47:49

First of all, I connect with my friends during,*games*, like, I play games, and probably call them like, one of my favorite games to play with my friends is Roblox and Minecraft. Like, mostly because there's a variety of things that you can do.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  48:06

My other question was, how have you been experiencing it? What is virtual academy like in for elementary school kids? You're in the Lower School, they're in the Upper School. So it's different. It's a different experience.

Sofia  48:19

I would say that. Yeah, this is not as much as classes. Like there's not as many classes. But actually, for my schedule... at first like, if you look at it, you'd be like "Oh, my God, it's so complex". But like, when you actually do it, it's so easy. Because so basically, it's like, instead of having actual eight classes, I have one class, and then lunch break, and then the two other classes. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  48:42

Oh, nice. 

Sofia  48:44

It's just like, basically two classes, because like, we have, like, free time to do extra work.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  48:49

So during your asynchronous work, your extra work? You know, what is that? What is that if I, you know, if I were a parent, or even an educator, and I'm like Virtual Academy, I'm trying to wrap my mind around it after being in the pandemic, and experiencing whatever version of virtual school I experienced then. Right? And then I'm hearing us say, "Oh, my God, this is so awesome!", You know, like, like, because it is, you know, what, what, what is elementary school's asynchronous work experience, like, what do you do during asynchronous?

Sofia  49:23

Like, I basically, I actually spend half of the time doing work, and then half of the time doing, like, work after school because like, even though I do it thoroughly, most of the time, get it done quicker. But basically, it's like, four weeks is science and then the, and then there's one week of health, and then we have four weeks of social studies. So right now we're actually doing the second week of social studies.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  49:53

That's cool. That's cool. I have another question. So you know, a lot of parents and anyone can jump In all this right, a lot of parents value school to socialize their kids, right? Or that their kids are missing out on, like social experiences, not just the learning the learning too. So what do you guys think about that?

Naima  50:18

As a person who doesn't like interacting with people? I think it's kind of weird that you're trying to pressure kids into social situations, because you should have a discussion with them about like: Are they comfortable with this? Or like, do you want to be in this activity at least a little bit? Instead of just forcing them and like, you have to do this, you have to make friends, because that's gonna lead them to have these ideas and then pass them on. It's not very, I don't want to say productive, but like, efficient,

Amber Coleman-Mortley  50:50

Okay. Okay. Just like, there are a lot of parents, I've been reading just tons and tons about, like parents who want their kids to go back [from] virtual school, because they are saying that their kids are missing... they're missing out on all these different things, experience-wise, for in person. And so I just wonder what you guys think about that.

Garvey  51:11

Um, this is like, the new standard. And with that comes the fact that it's not going to matter. Like, it's still gonna matter if you have friends because friends are like a staple in your social life, especially since they expose you to new things. And you learn basic social skills by having friends, like, don't talk bad about them, you know, I'm saying like, basic social skills, right? Um, but again, like with that comes the fact that like, there's a lot of kids who don't have friends. And it's hard for them to make friends. So you saying, "oh, like Johnny needs friends". It's like, Johnny has a hard time making friends anyway, and has an easier time making friends on Roblox. Why can't you use that? And like, say, like, help Johnny, like, see if any kids at your school also play Roblox? You know, I'm seeing saying, so like, I feel like it's just like, don't talk for your kid. Do even know how many friends your kid has before you say that? Or if it's easy time for them making friends at school anyway. Because kids are not nice. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  52:21

Hmm, why aren't kids nice? I'm just curious if parents were like, spiraling into other things. And we can talk about this in another episode, but I'm just curious. You guys are pulling up so much. So many things. 

Naima  52:33

Not to put it on the parents of mean kids. 

Sofia  52:35

Yeah, but maybe it's parents... how they were raised. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  52:40

Okay. You go.

Naima  52:41

Bruh... you we're not raised to cut me off, honey.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  52:44

Okay, okay. Hey! So you said, parents, she said parents as well. Um, what do you mean by that? Are parents deliberately raising terrible kids?

Naima  52:55

If you're not paying attention to your kid in a way that's like, um, like, "Are you being nice to Johnny?" Like Garvey said. Johnny likes playing Roblox. How, like, Have you played Roblox? Like, not speaking for your kid, but speaking with your kid? And giving them a discussion about like, you have to be kind in order to get somewhere like, socially.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  53:18

Okay. And so, do you have anything that you want to [add]? Yeah, go ahead.

Garvey  53:24

A lot of the time, actually, it's sometimes it's the parents, but sometimes it's them. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  53:28

The kid is just a jerk. 

Garvey  53:30

They are, or they're insecure, and they feel like they need something to make them feel better. So like, a lot of times, it's the parents, but like, a lot of time, it's also their fault.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  53:40

The kids fault. When you say "their", you're saying the kid. Okay. All right. Cool. I like that. You know what we will table this at the kitchen table and come back to this conversation of why are kids mean to other kids socially. Because I really want to go into this a lot deeper, and understand the psychology of this more, maybe we'll pull up some articles and we'll read them and we'll talk about it too. So this conversation will be tabled. We talked about Virtual Academy, we talked about what it's been like to experience schooling during COVID-19, during a global pandemic, during a racial reckoning. We talked about what it's like to now go from that experience into deliberately selecting virtual school. And what are the benefits we saw? Are there any negatives? How if or anything you would change about your school?

Group  54:33

No, no...

Amber Coleman-Mortley  54:36

Whaaat? Kids liking school. What?!

Naima  54:39

I don't like school. I like how school is structured now. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  54:43

Oh, I love that. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  54:49

Timeout! We had to put that on repeat and maybe put that on a t shirt. I just want to say this one more time you said you don't... it's not that you like school you like how school is structured now.

Garvey  55:03

Actually BEING structured because it's still not,

Naima  55:06

It's still not set in stone.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  55:08

So I like the flexibility that they're open to making things changing and evolving.

Naima  55:12

Yeah. And especially now being exposed to like Student Council and stuff. They're actually asking the students about what they think. 

Garvey  55:20

And changing things. [inaudible] The reason the cafe that we talked about in the beginning is even there is because the Student Council suggested it. 

Naima  55:31

I pitched the idea. 

Garvey  55:32

Yeah. And so like, they're actually starting to listen to us. And I think it's because one the adults don't know what to do, because it's new. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  55:43

And to Okay, right? We want to let that be clear. But it is okay for adults to get feedback from young people.

Garvey  55:53

Yeah, of course. Yeah. And like it stigmatized. That's not because we don't know anything, or like,

Amber Coleman-Mortley  55:58

We didn't go to school and get a bachelor's degree or a masters degree. 

Garvey  56:04

There's kids who are smarter than adults. But the point is, the point is,

Amber Coleman-Mortley  56:09

Or there are kids who have really great ideas, it's not necessarily we don't want to label it, like smarter or not. There are kids who know, there are kids who have really great ideas. They're adults who are open to listening and implementing those ideas in a way that benefits everyone. Right? I just want to phrase that. Yeah. Okay. Cool. Cool. Cool. Anything else? 

Sofia  56:33

I just want to say that Virtual Academy is good. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  56:37

Okay. Alright. Well we give it our thumbs up and approval. Shout out to Virtual Academy. Okay, yeah to that. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  56:45

So we just want to, you know, encourage parents, caregivers, educators, mentors, adult mentors to, to maybe take this Women's Hstory Month of March, the, the second year that we have, you know, been through this global pandemic, and just take some time to sit down with the young people in their lives and say, "How has this been for you? Have I stepped up in my role in supporting you?" and be open to the feedback that young people give us... Right? 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  57:21

My kids are always telling me things that are terrible. And they're always telling me things that are great. 

Naima  57:26

I can tell you something terrible, I just died in Minecraft. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  57:29

Okay. Wow. I'm mad that you're playing while we do this. Although I think multitasking, alright, fine. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  57:37

Anyway, adults in the lives of young people do not be afraid of what you're going to hear back from the youth in your life. Yeah. Alright, because please believe when these mics come off, these guys are going to probably tell me one or two things that, "Oh, I should have said this", and then I'll be like, "my feelings are hurt". But that's okay, let's pivot. So let's use the second anniversary of us in this pandemic, to reflect and think about how far we've come if you've gone back to school, maybe get feedback from your kid, about what it's been like to go back to school. Do they love it? Do they not love it? What are some things that they would love to see changed? 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  58:20

And be open to actually hearing that whether that hurts your feelings or not. That's one thing I really want to say to adults, right? We sometimes we get our little feelings hurt, and we don't want to hear from kids. Because we think we know better or we've gone to school or whatever. And that is counterproductive to us building a better society and experience for everyone involved. Alright, well, I just wanna thank you guys for your candidness today.

Sofia  58:49

Thank y'all. Thank you guys for being so awesome.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  58:54

Okay, well, the show's not over... we're going into the next segment.

Garvey  59:09

What's on your mind? Do you have a question or an issue or celebration to share? Send it to us and we'll discuss it. Share what's on your mind. The link is in the description or send your questions to LetsK12Better@gmail.com.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  59:27

Alright, we asked y'all for community letters and wow-wee y'all brought the heat! Okay, so I am so excited to jump into this first question. This questions from an educator and we're gonna we did we're not gonna divulge where this educator is or who they are their names. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  59:48

So, educator says in the climate, the current climate of white parents and Republican politicians falsely claiming that white children are being hurt by it. equity and diversity in classroom curriculums and in school pot policies. What do Black students want to learn in school? What do Black students need in schools from their administrators, teachers, coaches, counselors, etc, to feel seen, heard and to belong? And what do Black students want to see more of in their classes, school library and enrichment opportunities? 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:00:27

So I'm gonna ask you Garvey first, to answer this question.

Garvey  1:00:33

Okay. So firstly, I think Black students want to learn about themselves. White students always get to learn about themselves. So they get to learn about Christopher... I mean, not all white students are European, there's some students who are from other places who are white. But a lot of the time, it's like, just white other white people, just other white people that they get to learn about, they get to learn about Christopher Columbus. And either if it's in good light, or bad light, which most the time it's turning to be bad light, but a lot of the times, sometimes in some schools, it's good. They're like, "Oh, he didn't do anything [bad]". But, um, they get to learn about the Greek people, they get to learn about... 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:01:15

Who were influenced by Africa and also people on the Arabian Peninsula.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:01:24

They get to learn about all of these white males and females, they get to learn about all these people, but Black kids just have to sit and listen, like, where just now I'm in eighth grade. And I've known about slavery, as long as I can remember, even if it was a different degree levels. As I got older, of course, I learned about the severity more. Um, but I've always I think, as long as I can remember, I've known about slavery. And I've been so confused. Why are we just talking about this in school? And finally, in eighth grade, we're talking about it in school, like, I just don't think that's right. So I think we just want to learn about ourselves. Oh, yeah. And it's not just slavery. There's like the Ethiopian gods and goddesses, like, just things about Africa that we never even touched or covered about the Caribbean, about Afro-Latinx people, we've just now barely, we're even like, touching the surface on all this stuff. And yeah, I think we just want to learn about ourselves. It's frustrating.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:02:27

What do Black students need? And you're the one Black student? 

Garvey  1:02:30

Yeah, I'm one, out of so many. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:02:31

Right. So I don't want to say like, I know everything, but you're one Black student. What are some things that Black students in your estimation, need?

Garvey  1:02:41

Um, I'm gonna bring it back to actually when I got bullied for my hair. Um, my school handled it very well,

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:02:50

They really did. I was really impressed. Because I was like, gonna go up there. [laughter]

Garvey  1:02:56

They talked to all the kids involved. I think they even sent out a letter to the parents, I think about like, um just making fun of others for something that they can't even change like hair or touching someone's hair, stuff like that. So our school handled it very well. And we're very fortunate because I live in a very white community. It's diverse, but there's a lot of white kids. So they could have just been like, "sorry, like, we can't do anything". But that I think that's what we need, just like people to be open and be empathetic, because, you know, they're not going through this. So it's not like, you know, so yeah, just be open to help open to listen to our experiences. Um, yeah. Oh, yeah. And also, I mean, yeah, okay. Yeah. And then what do Black students want to see more in their libraries,

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:03:56

and schools and their enrichment programs?

Garvey  1:04:01

I don't know. Like, I want obviously, everybody wants to see more diverse books. And when we say diverse, we mean like BIPOC, like Black people, Indigenous people, everything we want to see it, but I can't even tell. I think right now, like, at least at my school, we have a lot of books about Black stories. We have a lot of books about all this stuff. So I can't say. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:04:22

But some schools districts are pulling all of those things. So we are very fortunate to be in a space where you are exposed and intentionally exposed to diverse narratives and multiple perspectives, historical perspectives. That's not the case everywhere across the country. 

Garvey  1:04:43

Yeah, for example, like Texas. Cut this out if it's wrong, but aren't they? Um giving misinterpretations about slavery and what happened to people who are Indigenous people

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:04:56

Yeh they have som really, very interesting ways of wording enslavement. As if it were labor that people wanted to do. That they just opted into. But then you have to say then, "how did they [Black people] get there? How did these Black folks get to Texas? To do the opt-in work?" You know, anyway, keep going...

Garvey  1:05:19

Anyway. Yeah, like, just. And there's also a lot of schools who can't even afford to get more books. So I mean, like, I think just maybe schools who are like more fortunate, giving to other schools. I mean, that's like, I don't know if that's just what Black kids want. But what like, I can't really talk about it, because I'm not in a situation where like, I don't have, so I can't really say anything about...

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:05:44

Okay, well, I'm just gonna jump in and just thank this educator for sharing what's on their mind. I want to just add to this, that, we have to think about the reality. I'm in a book club for, you know, Black educators, and we're learning about the history of education, in the Black American experience. Much of Black education coming out of enslavement, we need to remember that during enslavement, Black people were not allowed to read, they were not allowed to write. So we all need to position our minds around, what does it mean for people to be on American soil, and they are prevented from the opportunity to read and the opportunity to write... right? Because they are considered right, because they are considered uncivilized. And they are considered three-fifths people [in the Constitution]. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:06:44

So right, their education traditions, coming out of enslavement, the first thing that Black people wanted to do was get an education, the movement for public schools started from post-enslavement Reconstruction Era Black people who wanted and believed that public education was the right of every single person on American soil, right. And eventually, that was picked up by poor white folks who also then got on board for their own version of public funded education, right, non-inclusive, still. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:07:22

So thinking about that Black people have always been fighting for this right to be a part of the public school or American education experience. And I think essentially, what Black students want, is what Garvey said... to be seen, heard, to belong, to see, to be recognized, to see the truthful version of themselves reflected in curriculum, right. And it doesn't have to be all trauma. Right? We do want to infuse some great things in there. But we also need to be realistic about that. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:08:01

If we're going to teach Shay's Rebellion, we need to teach about Nat Turner, just let's be honest, right? If we're going to teach about the American Revolution, we need to understand the place of Crispus Attucks and the blood that was shed by him to start the American Revolution, right to push back against the British, right? 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:08:21

So like thinking about these things... I think, in this moment, it's very interesting that all of the racial reckoning that happened while we all were forced to watch, and then having this knee-jerk reaction to equity, to, you know, inclusion, to curriculums that are open to expanding narratives around history, is not surprising. For me, as a Black parent and former Black educator, you know, I cannot say that I'm surprised but I am hopeful. Because a lot of folks are saying, "hey, this knee-jerk reaction is not necessary". I do want as a Black person, as a white person, as an Asian person, as you know, as an Hispanic person, as you know, whatever person of color or not person of color I am. There are folks that want to know this information. And it's kind of the responsibility of education, not necessarily to give people the beliefs, but to provide them the skills to seek what they're looking for. Right and to expose them to new ideas so that they can choose for themselves, what direction they want to go. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:09:39

So thank you educated for sharing what's on your mind. We have more. Is there anything else you want to add? Okay, we have more questions, this episode is probably getting really long so we will address the other questions of what is on folks' mind in the upcoming episodes. I just want to thank this educator and everyone else educators and parents who have dropped their What's On Your Mind questions in the chat for us to discuss. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:10:09

Please send that to us. The form is linked in the show notes, or email us at LetsK12Better@gmail.com. We want to know we want to talk about these things, we want to go deeper into these things. I will link some of the books that I'm reading in my Black educators book club so that folks can understand a little bit more about the Black educator tradition, and what it was like to come out of Reconstruction with this new and open experience in front of us while also being, still fighting back for our humanity, right and pushing back and saying, we we are here.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:10:50

So thank you. This question is amazing. Thank you so much, right? Like, oh, my gosh. I know, right? Like we were like maybe people won't you know, so send us your questions, send us what's on your mind, send us celebrations, send us deep things send us surface things, we want to talk about it. Thank you guys. [bird sounds]

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:11:16

Alright, here we are. At the final segment of the show, generally, we will share you know what we're reading this episode has gotten to be a little long. And so I'm going to leave that part out. We're still reading the same books from last time. So please go back to episode one to see what we're reading. We will also link those in the show notes. So we're gonna link what we're reading in the show notes. Alright, so before we close out, what do we hope for our listeners until we are with them? Again, Sofia? 

Sofia  1:11:53

I hope that well, first of all, shout out to all the women and girls and ladies in the crowd because it's Woman's History Month, shout out. But I hope everybody has a great March. We're probably gonna do another episode in March. But I hope everybody has a good week. And like, if you're having a bad day, you know, maybe do something that you really like to do. Go outside, even if it's not for a long time, like, you know, but in a way pajamas for like five minutes. Go outside, maybe take a walk.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:12:23

Alright, so get outside. Yeah. Well, don't be weird. Alright, Naima, what do you hope for our listeners until we are with them, again?

Naima  1:12:38

I have three little short clips. First of all, Happy Women's History Month to all the guys gals, non-binary pals! Whoever you are, celebrate Women's History Month because women need to be recognized. Second, go check out the newsletter. I'm writing it now. So yeah, that's something cool. And then the last thing talk... communicate with your kids because that is important. That's the goal of our podcast. Well, not the goal specifically but like one of the goals. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:13:10

It is. Yeah, exactly. Thank you. I love that. I think that's beautiful. Alright, Garvey What do you hope for our listeners until we are with them again?

Garvey  1:13:19

I hope you guys like just because it's not Black History Month anymore [you] don't still celebrate Black culture and that goes for like literally every month like just because it's not Women's History Month anymore, just because not LGBTQ month anymore, just because not Hispanic Heritage Month. Like a month is not AAPI Month Oh yeah. Um just because like it's a month is over doesn't mean you stop appreciating or learning about the culture. So yeah

Naima  1:13:43

That is a sermon right there.

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:13:44

Yo preach! [inaudible]

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:13:46

Yes. Thank you so much for that. I appreciate that. Yeah, I guess I'm gonna keep it kind of quick and just say, you know, the bird left. So

Naima  1:13:57

bird update updates... 

Sofia  1:13:59

[singing] No more the bird tweets... [inaudible]

Naima  1:14:02

Birds bird updates. The bird came back guys. .

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:14:06

Okay. Okay. So here's what I hope. The days are getting longer, and the sun is getting brighter and will be in the sky. 

Naima  1:14:15

You should still stay inside though. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:14:17

Um,  no, can I say what I hope for our listeners. Thank you. I appreciate you. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:14:25

Yeah. So you know, I hope that as spring, springs into your life, that you go out and enjoy it. I also want to piggyback off of what Naima said and talk to your kids. Talk to the kids in your life. If you are an educator, caregiver, parent, mentor, athletic coach, teacher, teacher, administrator, whoever, you know... if you have had young people under your care during the pandemic, please make sure you get feedback from them. Ask them, "How have I done?"; do a quality assurance survey with them, you know, have a real talk session with them about their mental health during this time, talk to them about the things that they have experienced that were really amazing. The things that were traumatic. Open up and share things that YOU found were amazing, and things that you found that were traumatic. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:15:31

And the other thing I would say is be open to the experiences of other people. And recognize that though you may feel you're doing good, you may actually be doing harm. So I'm gonna go back to this educator's What's On Your Mind, you as a parent advocating at the school board level might think I'm doing good by protecting my children or the children in this district, from reading books that may traumatize them. But you may actually be doing harm by erasing the experiences of other people. And so just sit with that and think about that for a moment. 

Amber Coleman-Mortley  1:16:11

So I just want to thank every single person here for their awesomeness. You all are beautiful spirits. You are amazing. We appreciate you. And we just want to thank you so much for choosing our podcasts and listening to our zaniness. Yeah, whenever we release episodes, so thank you so very much.

Group  1:16:35

Yeah! Thank ya'll!

Sofia  1:16:42

Thank you for listening to the Let's K12 Better podcast. 

Garvey  1:16:45

You made it to the end! Please like, subscribe, and share.


We want to hear from you. Connect with us on social media @LetsK12Better on all social media platforms. Or connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Clubhouse @MomOfAllCapes. The Let’s K12 Better podcast is available on every podcasting platform; so if you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to rate and review our podcast. This is a family project and your feedback helps us grow. Thank you so much for listening.  

Naima  1:17:23

See you next time.

What has it been like to have some of your most formidable years experienced during a global pandemic and racial reckoning?
What could Mom have done better to support the kids during this time?
Clip from Season 1 Episode 1 "Schooling Through An Apocalypse"
How has virtual learning evolved from pandemic schooling to Virtual Academy?
Shout Out To Flipgrid!
What is Virtual Academy?
How do you stay connected to friends?
Community Letters: What’s on your mind? (What do Black students need?)
What do we hope for our listeners until we are with them again?