BulgingButtons

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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.

 


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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.

 


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Cleaning Up 2019

The last day of the year seems like a good time to do a little housekeeping, both literally and figuratively.

Literally speaking, I’m still slowing putting my master bedroom and bathroom back together (and don’t even ask me about my closet). Having a full on renovation really took a toll on this house. Sure, the result is incredible, but the aftermath is not much fun. Still, as I soak in my six-foot tub or indulge in a shower that’s more lovely than any other I’ve ever used, I don’t mind the mess as much.

At least I finally feel like I have some time to tame the mess. Being a teacher is really a gift at this time of year. There’s time to catch up on appointments and chores, and there’s also time to relax, recharge, and reinvent myself and my practice. Teaching is an art, and like any art it requires reflection and refinement. This time off allows me to focus on those things. Nothing like being alone in a quiet house (well, with the dog) to force you to face what’s going on around you.

What’s going on around me (or maybe inside me) is a desire to bring my life back into balance. That means more focus on home and family, more focus on long-range goals, and more focus on what success means to me. This is where paying off my credit card bill (which I had always done in the past, but somehow lost track of), cleaning up my house (it’s getting there), and working on becoming a National Board Certified Teacher (this is kind of overwhelming) come into play. Add in a few interesting life twists (all good) and you’ve got a 2019 that I’m ready to pack away in favor of a bright, shiny, new 2020. It’s going to be a busy one, but a good one, I can just tell. I wish you a bright, shiny 2020 as well.