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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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What a Week, or Welcome to Fourth Grade

We did it! We got through the first week of fourth grade without any major glitches. Nobody cried, nobody got lost, nobody threw up, nobody lost their lunch-box. Okay, so they did manage to lose the three new laundry baskets that hold the lunch-boxes, but I’m sure those will turn up. Good thing I labeled them!

My kids are terrific, and I’m learning so many new things in terms of using technology with them. They know so much! My brain is swimming, and I bet theirs are too, but for different reasons.

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So far we’ve gotten five chapters into a novel, created and shared personal timelines, learned a bit about historical Meso-American cultures, played two truths and a lie, written the rough draft of a poem, worked on our penmanship, calculated place-value to the millions, gotten to know our new Chromebooks a bit, learned each others’ names, played four corners, and squeezed all the toothpaste out of a tube and tried to put it back in. And that’s just part of what we’ve accomplished.

I love my summer breaks, but the start of the school year is a really exciting time, and I’m glad we’re back in session. Happy school year, everyone.

 


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More Testing

Here we go again. Yet another round of standardized testing. We’re almost done with them. One today (reading), one next week (math) and then, NO MORE! At least not for this year.

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Teacher on Test Day

So what does this mean for my kiddos? Well, truthfully, not a whole lot. At least not for most of them. It does mean that they’re tired of testing. It also means that some of them are losing their enthusiasm (if they ever had any) for taking these tests. This overkill translates into kids who just don’t want to do it, and therefore aren’t prepared to invest the mental energy that doing their best entails.

And really, why should they?

Yes, everyone should always do their best. Or maybe they should usually do their best. Don’t they have to have something, some mental energy, left over for the pursuits of life that truly interest them? Why burn myself out on this test when I’d rather finish it and go back to the awesome book I’ve been reading? I’ll just answer these last few questions quickly… I’m sure I’m doing well, after all I took my time on the first half of the test…

When we do something too often it loses its power. Imagine having a birthday party once a month. It would lose some of its luster. Well, it’s the same with testing. Standardized testing used to be a BIG DEAL. Unfortunately for us, it’s become an even bigger deal for adults (whose job performance ratings are often associated with these outcomes), and more or less no big deal for kids, who have done so many of these it’s hard to keep count.

Yes, kids, I want you to do your best.

Yes, kids, this one counts.

No, don’t worry, you’re still going on to the next grade level.

No, it’s not going on your report card.

But it COUNTS. Really.

Please just do your best, but know that I love you and I understand if you just don’t have it in you today. I know you’ve learned a lot this year, whether this test shows it or not.