Not bad for a fat girl

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Confessions of a Cooped Up Teacher 3

Day 11: March 30, 2020

So I’ve decided to only count the weekdays, although I’m cooped up for all the days, but the weekend days kind of don’t count, do they? I don’t know. I may have to revisit this thinking, but for now they don’t count. I kind of wish they did, though, because truthfully it’s been 24 days since I’ve seen my kiddos and taught in my classroom. So day 11? Not really. The first week was Spring Break, so not seeing the kiddos was planned. So was going back to school. Obviously that didn’t happen.

Our governor announced today that schools would be closed for the remainder of the school year. We still don’t know what that means in terms of distance (i.e. online) learning, expectations of teachers and other staff members, and, well, we don’t know much. We do know that state testing isn’t happening this year. Well, that makes sense. We also know that teachers are supposed to continue to get paid. Well, I hope so. We’re continuing to work, that’s for sure. Not in the way that our healthcare workers, truckers, food supply chain people, police, fire, emt, utility workers, and so on, but we are working.crop635w_4-tips-for-nervous-test-takers.jpg

Parents, I know that this is awful. The disruption to your life is unprecedented. I get it. It’s happening to me too. I didn’t plan for this to happen, and I’m certainly not celebrating it. In fact, I’m pretty scared.

Today the superintendent of public instruction sent out an email to educators in our state offering thanks and encouragement. The email also linked to resources for our mental health. Obviously, my teammates and I aren’t the only ones having a rough time.

I wish we could all take a collective step back, and take a moment to clear our heads. Unfortunately this current reality doesn’t seem to afford that moment, despite the promise that it might. I don’t know about you, but I’m either overwhelmed with all the things I should be doing (lesson plans, family outreach, setting up new accounts for kids with various websites, figuring out how to hold meaningful live online sessions) or I’m inert. There isn’t much in-between for calm and reflection. This moment, right now, as I write, is just that. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been writing as much. Maybe that reflection is too frightening for me to spend too much time with.

This thing. This virus. This disease it causes. This worldwide disruption it causes. This fear and doubt and uncertainty and growing sense of dread. I don’t want it. I don’t want any of it. I’m scared and anxious, so I’ll continue to soldier on and share funny memes and find interesting things for my students to do, and keep on keeping on. At least that’s the plan for now.

Be well, friends.

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Confessions of a Cooped Up Teacher 2

Day Four: March 19, 2020

So here I sit at my dining room table, looking across the street at the mostly abandoned park. But it’s Thursday morning, the park should be abandoned, right? I don’t know, because I’m usually at school teaching at this time of day.

I’m still a teacher, and my colleagues and I are working hard to find a good balance for our students between academic work, and open-ended types of interactions for them to have with their families at home, and digitally with each other and us. I cringe when I read that some schools have carried on with rigorous academic demands of their students. Give them a break. The students are under stress too, and resources for kids may be stretched. Resources like time, internet access, family support, and focus may be in short supply.

As teachers, we know our students, and when to push and when to back off a little. Right now is clearly a “back off a little” time. Do I want my students to keep learning? Of course I do, but at this point I don’t think there’s much sense in trying to micromanage their learning when I have no knowledge of or control over each of their individual situations.

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School brings us together, and right now we don’t have that. Teachers all over this country (and most likely all over the world) are trying to teach themselves new technology at a rapid rate to respond to their students’ needs. I get it, I’m part of that mad scramble, but I also think we need to take a step back, breathe, and allow parents to navigate finding learning opportunities and experiences for their children, based on their interests and abilities. No, not everyone can do that, but many can and will, given the opportunity. Let’s work together and get through this thing with flying colors and “bigger” brains.

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Confessions of a Cooped Up Teacher

Day One: March 16, 2020

I don’t want to stay home, and yet I want nothing more than to stay home.

I’ve been home for a week. It was spring break, and five glorious days off school were mine! No big plans for me, just some work and some r & r and some time with Mom, doing the mother daughter things: lunch, shopping, movies. The week started off just fine. Yes, there was some rain, but that only made staying in doing nothing that much better. Then it cleared up some, and Mom & I got together and did our thing. It was great. That was last Saturday. On Tuesday we got together again, this time we went to the movies. We had a terrific time and planned to get together again on Thursday. Then all hell broke loose.

1200px-Pandemiclogo.svgWatching the news and reading articles left me with a sense of dread and doom. I did not want to be a part of that, so I switched off my social media and got off my behind. My sweetheart and I did some grocery shopping, made sure we had tp, and planned to lay low. I called Mom to see how she was doing and if she needed anything. She was fine, and said she did not need a thing. Then I told her our plans Thursday were going to have to be delayed. I was not willing to take my eighty-something year old mother into a crowded place just so we could have a nice lunch. She was disappointed, but claimed to understand my reasoning. I think she was just trying to be agreeable.

Since then schools have been shut down in several states, my own included. It was a weight off my chest when the announcement was made last Thursday that our district would close. The entire state is now closed at least until March 27, but between you and me I don’t think schools will be ready to reopen that soon. I keep getting snippets of information, like everyone else. One friend in New York has told me what her district is doing, another friend, who has a daughter in Seattle, has shared some of her experiences. Getting these first and secondhand accounts is powerful. These are REAL people, not alarmists.

Each day I recommit to staying away from people, but it’s so difficult. When my 21 year old called me and asked if we could go to the grocery store together (clearly he was low on funds) I, of course, said yes. And when my brother, mother, and niece asked me to join them for a family St. Patrick’s meal, well, I said yes to that too. But that’s it. I’m not going anywhere after that. Unless I have to.

As of right now, I don’t really know what I have to do. I’ve been gathering some resources for teachers and parents, but honestly, there’s simply too much to sort through. I’m so grateful to all the children’s presses, publishers, authors, bookstores, and curriculum websites. You’ve been so generous with your time and resources. The only issue is that there’s SO much that it’s overwhelming, even for someone like me, who is familiar with much of it (unlike parents). How are we going to pare this down to its most impactful elements and share it equally? How are we going to reach and engage our students when we’re all living in a shared state of disbelief?

I’m sure some guidance will be forthcoming, at least in regard to work. For now I’m grateful that my loved ones are all healthy, and we have what we need. I hope you can say the same.