BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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Staying Home

I was supposed to on vacation this week. Well, maybe I should say “vacation.” It would have involved a quarantine for the entire duration of my trip, which didn’t seem terribly productive or fun. Or safe. I also didn’t want to go to the airport and get on a plane. I didn’t even want to ride to the airport. And what about my luggage? Who was handling it? What if they sneezed on it and got me sick? Paranoid? Maybe, but I just don’t want to take any chances.

I’ve tried to avoid talking about this pandemic thing, because I know it’s polarizing. There are those that believe in science, and those that believe in conspiracies. Maybe there’s something in the middle, but I don’t know what that would be. In case you weren’t sure, I’m firmly in the science camp.

I wear my masks when I leave my property, even if it’s just to walk to the mailbox around the corner. I’m beginning to assemble a nice little wardrobe of masks. The other day I added a fabulous Ruth Bader Ginsburg mask to my collection, thanks to my crafty and generous friend. Now that was a good mail day.

I’m not going anywhere this summer. Not on vacation, not to the mall, not to restaurants, not anywhere. Wait, I take that back. I did make one quick trip to Target last week. It was a coordinated strike, with an action plan in place to get in, get the goods, and get out. Every person in the store was wearing a mask, which frankly surprised me, given where I live. My nerves were on edge the entire time I was in the store.

You see, I’m one of those “high risk” people when it comes to this disease. From the point of view of the disease, I’m an easy target. From the point of view of health care providers, who are currently stressed to the max from too many sick people and not enough resources, I’m not a great bet. I get it, which is why it’s up to me to make sure I stay well. So no, no trip for me.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve been gobbling up professional development opportunities like crazy. I’ve spent hours and hours learning new approaches to teaching, and I’ve earned a few college credits along the way. I’ve been home since March, and this is a way for me to feel productive. Yes, I enjoy my hobbies, but I also love my profession, and I want to be prepared to move forward when the time comes.

The discussion around school reopening has been one that I’ve been following closely. As of a few days ago, the governor of our state pushed back school opening to August 17. We generally start the first week in August. Now what will actually happen on August 17 is still unknown. The last I heard, our district will open providing 3 choices for families: all in person instruction, all online instruction, or a hybrid model that places kids in school for 3 hours each day. I know, I don’t really get the logic of that last one either. As we approach August 17, there may be a change to that plan. Several districts in our state have already come out and said they are only offering online instruction the first quarter. Personally, I think that’s wise from both a public health standpoint, and a consistency standpoint for students.

Let’s face it, there’s no good solution. No matter what happens, education has been impacted in a huge way, and there’s no easy fix.

I want to teach kids. I want to be in school. I also want all of us to stay healthy. I want this horrible pandemic to go away. But as my father used to tell me, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Wishing it won’t make it so. I, for one, will stay home as long as I can to help stop the spread of this disease.


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Scatterbrained

Is it just me, or is anyone else having trouble focusing lately?

I came on the computer to view a video for an online course I’m taking. Great. The link is in my email. Fine. I view the video, download the materials that go with it, and find myself deep into a different document shared by my employer. Well, that wasn’t too much of a jump, but I shake myself off, close up that document, and head back to my original task.

Now, with the video watched and the download complete (along with searching for a binder, and some page protectors, and refilling the printer paper), I’m ready to post on the accompanying Facebook group. But wait, that’s interesting… twenty minutes later, I’m back in my email, following a link to renew a subscription I’ve held for the past year (and didn’t get as much out of as I should have – my fault, not theirs). But hold on, the links that are supposed to be live aren’t. Reload. Nope. Restart. And that’s where we are now.

Also, somewhere along the way I managed to check on my voter registration, and see that while I’m registered, the update to my party affiliation hasn’t been recorded. So now I have to go change my registration. But where? The website tells me WHEN I need to update, but not where. I’ll go back to that. And I’m also supposed to email someone about a financial transaction. But who? More email digging, which is likely to end in more distractions.

I feel like this is how my brain operates lately. Either I have a million things half-going, or I barely manage to do anything at all. I’m like a computer with 57 windows open at once, or just a blank screen with a flashing cursor, not sure what to do. I blame not having a regular routine, although my dog – bless her- makes sure I’m up early every morning to face the day. Of course she’s napping now, but hey, she deserves it.

The uncertainty of the times is disorienting. I know I’m not the only one. I know many people have much worse circumstances than I do. I’m not complaining, just noting and reflecting. I’m worried about the start of the school year, and what it will mean to kids, families, and teachers and staff. There are so many unknowns, and so many really awful potential outcomes that I sometimes choose to shut myself off from the outside world. I can only digest so many news conferences and graphs and testimonials per day. This pandemic is an awful thing. I don’t understand how that can’t be a universally agreed upon truth. I worry about the world outside my door, but even as I say that, I plan to stay inside for as long as possible. Now, what was I doing again?


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Busting My Brain

For some reason, I figured a Pandemic was a good time to pursue additional learning opportunities. Yes, I’m working on becoming a National Board Certified Teacher, but that didn’t seem like enough. No, let me rephrase that. It didn’t seem possible this year with the mayhem we’re experiencing.

There are four parts to that particular certification, and three of those parts were not possible for me to finish without returning to the classroom for the final quarter of the school year. Fortunately, I was able to defer those sections, and move forward with the fourth. The section I’m (hopefully) completing this school year is a test. I say hopefully, because I have to actually pass the test. It’s on Saturday. This Saturday.

Now that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? I didn’t think so, so when I got the opportunity to register for two online graduate courses for free, I jumped at it. One was three weeks, the other four, and they overlapped by a week. That overlap week was last week. That was a little tricky. I did the final project for one, the first week project (that took a lot of time… it felt more like another final project) for the second class, and I did some test preparation in between. That’s when the email from my district came in offering an online class for salary credit. For free. Yes, I did that one too.

Back to the exam, though. It’s a strange type of a test, because there isn’t exactly a study guide for it. You have to know your subject (in my case all content areas for students ages 7-12) and you have to know your students. You have to understand child development, curriculum, pedagogy, and how to write short essays. There are three of those essays, in addition to multiple choice questions. Piece of cake. Maybe. I generally do ok on tests, and I’m hopeful this pattern will hold up here.

Salary credit is not that easy to come by, at least not for free. As a teacher, I have to re-certify every few years (the rules keep changing). To do that I have to submit a copy of all my professional development hours. Sometimes, though, that professional development time can be used toward increasing your salary. Those hours are generally hours earned, for credit, at a university. Which generally means university credit hours costs. In my school district it takes fifteen credit hours to earn an increase in pay. That’s five graduate level courses, give or take. Some are worth more, some are worth less. It’s a big commitment of time and money. Usually.

Apparently the shut-down was the catalyst to offering these free courses. For me the timing was just right. I had endless hours to spend at home and a mind that was itching for some stimulation. I also participated in two webinars (no credit for those, just some good information I can put to use), and I have an online conference coming up (7 recertification hours for that one). In the mean time, I have an assignment due Monday, an exam to prepare for on Saturday, and a few more facemasks to sew before the weekend. In between I’m watching the news and counting down the days until the presidential election. I don’t know what the future holds, but hopefully I’ll be prepared to meet the challenges head on.