You are currently viewing Creating Culture in a Cafeteria Classroom – Staying Positive and Negative during a Pandemic

Creating Culture in a Cafeteria Classroom – Staying Positive and Negative during a Pandemic

Week 4

Over the week leading up to the holiday, I spent a significant amount of time trying to get my technophobic father onto a more reliable video chatting platform. We got him a new laptop, specifically for the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas occasions. Our goal? Connect him to the family so we could all safely eat our holiday meals together, even though we were apart.

Now, just to give you a frame of reference regarding my father’s relationship with technology:

He has only recently realized that voice mail doesn’t work like a 1980s answering machine; that messages aren’t something other people are hearing out of a speaker, from a tiny tape in real time. My voice mails always consisted of several loud recordings of, “CHAELYN! HELLO! PICK UP! I KNOW YOU ARE THERE, CHAELYN. I KNOW YOU HEAR ME. STOP SCREENING YOUR CALLS. IT’S YOUR FATHER!…….Chaelyn? EndOfMessageToDeletePress7.” 

They were simultaneously endearing and annoying. So anyway, back to Pre-Turkey Day, 2020. 

We (my siblings and I) tried in vain to virtually tech-support this Internet-ornery senior citizen. He was juggling a conversation with my sister on his landline — because of course he still has one — and a distracted video chat with me on his tablet. He was playing the part of an apoplectic conversation middleman. His cell phone — a flip phone, because of course it is — was ringing repeatedly in the background, with my brother calling to help. My dad was opening it and closing it, over and over, to stop the ringing. 

In the next few minutes, he wasn’t speaking to any of us. He was having a full-on one-sided argument with the inanimate laptop. The screen was illuminating his reddening face. After much aggravation, we settled on him just using his tablet for Thanksgiving, sacrificing picture size and sound quality to maintain all of our sanity.

He just wasn’t ready to handle that level of technological responsibility. Just like I wasn’t ready this past spring. I shared his same overwhelmed feeling during the initial pandemic lockdown in spring of 2020. Suddenly, our program was thrust into a virtual world, dependent on our abilities to successfully navigate online platforms, apps, and programs. It became quickly clear that when it comes to technology, it’s OSS– Only the Savvy Succeed.

Week 4-Positive Outlook: “OUT/IN”

In Week 3’s blog, I recounted how our afterschool programs could thrive through this pandemic by connecting to the OUTdoors. This week, let’s focus on the connection that truly sustained our afterschool programs, the INternet.

Being suddenly and unexpectedly required to maintain program connections and expectations in a virtual setting has given afterschool leaders several professional opportunities to build and hone their technological skills, knowledge and experiences.

In the comment section, please submit your personal and professional stories, anecdotes and advice that fit into this week’s Positive Outlook theme. How has the opportunity to hone your technological skills translated into a positive experience or outcome (for you, your co-workers, or your students)? Share your #PandemicPositivity with other OST professionals by using the comment section below!



Chaelyn Lombardo is the Character Development Resource Director/Site Director at, Macdonough School Kids’ Korner Before and Afterschool Program, Middlesex YMCA


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