Animal House

There were a few reasons that lead to a talking animal fair during remote learning. The biggest being a bout of temporary insanity.

I wanted an online project for young students where kids could turn of the TV. After six months of remote classes, these kids were quite over Max Headroom Ed. The students were tuning me out like an annoying informercial for Ron Popeil’s Pocket Fisherman or a rerun of the Brady Bunch. My viewer ratings were right up there with George Glass and Kitty Carry-all.

Long story short, I had students make talking animal posters. PDfs were printed on oversize paper. Teacher Assistants cut out face holes as students investigated facts about hibernation and camouflage.

Acorns and seeds were carefully cut out for visitors.

And what did I get to do?

I got to watch in my pajamas from eight thousand miles away.

But wait–something was wrong:

Where are the students?

The students were not in the cages (aka: desks).

The talking animal posters had congregated by the window to chatter with a visiting teacher.

But I had no clue. My ears’ imagination went wild. I was for sure someone lost a finger and that a snake had slithered out of the classroom.

Meanwhile, I was losing my mind.

As much as I strained my neck, I couldn’t see them.

My ears had to do the watching.

I could hear cacophony of giggles, howls, tweets, growls and whatever noise a bat makes (TIP: if you want to know an animal sound, just ask a second grader). But I had no idea if a guest had lost their finger or if the snake slithered out of the classroom.

All I could see were empty desks. All my ears could see was pure chaos.

With online teaching, you feel like a dog in one of those cones they get from the vet. There is no peripheral vision, which means, a kid could literally jump out the window and you wouldn’t know.

And your ears can’t tell a like a heard of elephants thundering down the hallway from a pack of sugarized third-graders.

Another remote teacher joined for the fun, zooming in from Hawaii. She had the command of Dr. Doolittle. The deer, fox, and hibernating varmints quietly lined up to gaze at their teachers stuck in online cages.

After the Talking Animal Poster fair was over, the class monitor sent these photos. My fears were erased. The beavers, butterflies and snakes were not being eaten alive by the classroom bear. Everyone was safe. No one lost a finger. The biggest problem was that a cardinal was colored blue.

If only National Geographic had a “Talking Animal Poster” issue.

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