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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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Getting My House In Order

So far 2020 has been the year of “cleaning up.” What does that mean for me? Well, it’s multifaceted, which is my fancy way of I’ve been running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to do too many things and not doing any of them particularly well. Let’s break that down a bit further, and see where things really stand.

Home: This is what I first think of when someone talks about getting their house in order. I suppose I’m a bit of a simpleton, going for the literal meaning, but that’s the way my brain works. My house is still undergoing a transformation. My beautifully remodeled bathroom is done, but the rest of the house still hasn’t quite recovered. I sort of think of it as having gone through a major surgery. Everything looks okay, but there’s still some healing to do on the inside. I did have friends over, so that gave me a jump start on some of my delayed cleaning up projects, but there’s still so much to do.

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Not my actual house.

Finances: I’m actually doing pretty well with this one. I’ve been reading some self-help books and following some of their “Law of Attraction” types of advice, which really can’t hurt, and things have been going well. My credit card is paid off, my retirement is funded, and my bills are paid. Now to do my taxes. UGH.

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Not my actual money.

Relationships: These have been going pretty well too. There are some far away friends I need to reach out to, and some closer to home who I haven’t seen or heard from in a while, so there’s that. Family is good, the kid is good, the sweetheart is good, and the dog… well, she’s the best.

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Not my actual dog.

Work: I’m a little scattered here. When our schedule gets a bit mixed up everything sort of falls apart, at least that’s how it feels. We’re experiencing that right now due to field trips and artist-in-residence experiences. These are all terrific learning opportunities for our kids, but they mean major schedule changes, and, this is a biggie, I have to teach math. I can teach math. I’d just rather not. I have colleagues who are experts at this, I am not. Still, we’ll muddle through. And then there’s my national board process. I need to light a fire under that.

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Not my actual plan book.

Well, as expected, when I put it all on paper it doesn’t look quite so daunting. Make a few phone calls, straighten up here and there, and review the lessons before teaching them, and I’ll be all caught up. Oh yeah, and do that little national board thing. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.