I have a student in my homeroom who has been very shy all year. She never turns on her camera, and in fact, before Fall Conferences she told her dad that I had never seen her before. It was true-- my image of her was based on the photo in my grade book, a picture that had been taken early in fifth grade. When she finally made an appearance for the conference, I was kind of surprised at how much she'd changed: the little girl with pigtails and smile was replaced by a middle schooler with a high and tight mop of curls and an anxious frown.
After that? I heard her voice (although rarely), but the slash across her camera icon remained steadfastly present, even during the second conference. That is until last week.
A bunch of the other kids in our group are certified goofballs: they are forever wearing hats and masks, waving papers and books and posters, and parading their stuffies and pets across the screen for us. There were a couple of cats waving in the gallery when her hand went up.
"Hey!" I said brightly. "Do you have a question?"
"No," she said quietly, "but I do have a comment."
"Go ahead!" I said.
"We're getting two kittens next week," she reported.
Well, the class went a little wild and wouldn't give up until she had posted a picture of her kittens-to-be in the chat.
And then today? That hand went up again. "We got our kittens," she told us.
And what do you know? There she was on camera, first with a very stubborn and wiggly gray-striped kitten held up to her cheek, and then again cradling a quite compliant orange-striped baby.
"So cute! Congratulations!" I said, as the image faded to a little circle with her initials.
But my fingers are crossed that those kittens will be a little less camera shy than their girl.