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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Thinking About: Hamilton

Over the long weekend, I watched Hamilton thanks to Disney. I was grateful for the "bargain price" of 6.99 vs $$$$.  The music, the cast, and the historical-fiction-musical-infused perspective of America's story were worth the price! 

Lin Manuel Miranda's depiction of Hamilton as progressive and anti-slavery is not historically accurate; yet, the depiction of Hamilton and America's founding fathers as people with economic and political vision combined with a need for power and prestige is part of America's story.  The movie has spurred my thinking, reading and questioning!  

I knew Hamilton was an architect of our economy and was on $10 bills! I didn't know much else and so, many decades after my last history class, I started reading everything I could find about Hamilton and other founding fathers. 
I've been reminded that Hamilton authored many of the Federalist papers that proposed 3 branches of government and he, as well as most if not all of our founding fathers were owners of slaves even while penning documents that "All men are created equal."  

I've been reminded about the power of controversy to spur reading, thinking and learning. If only we could inspire our students with books, films and talk so they want to know more about prejudice, racism, sexism, immigration, privilege, climate change, pollution, health care, education, welfare, critical thinking......so they can be a part of the change in the  course of our nation's story....



Thursday, June 25, 2020

All Over The Place

During this first week of the summer,  NY, NJ and CT are beginning to quarantine people coming from states where the virus is increasing. As I (and many others) was debating if it was worth the risk to get a haircut at the finally reopened salon, Disneyland postponed a planned opening for mid July.  

I'm pretty sure I am not alone as my thoughts wandered to how they could even monitor the zillions of roads into these NY, NJ, and CT?  Then, my thoughts wandered to how all this will impact colleges in these states that are set to open in 6-8 weeks and schools that are set to reopen soon after?

We can't deny it; summer will end and fall will come,  College, public school, and private school administrators have been talking about it for MONTHS and now, kernels of plans are being announced even as the numbers are increasing in so many parts of our country!  

It is clear that many, many individuals have fallen behind during the era of remote school. With parents and caregivers returning to work in many places with limited camp, pool,j ob, or play options, our students of all ages as well as their parents and their teachers are trying to figure out next steps.

One thing seems true: plans, opening dates, and schedules are SOFT (like Disney's revised opening) and ALL over the place! 

In today's briefings, I noticed:
So, as I mull my own plans and syllabi for the fall, my thoughts are ALL over the place.
 While I guess this is all normal in these abnormal times, I guess it's why I find myself mulling over Facebook fueled mind-boggling puzzles such as this:
Let's be honest, I'm more likely to solve this puzzle than figure out what "school" will look like in the fall!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

#sol20 Sprinklers

It was very hot,
The fancy-blow-up-pool-filler
"In transit,"
The mind-blowing-pineapple-pool still waiting,
So, I turned on the sprinkler
Used long ago for new grass.

It was no frills,
The water gently flowing,
Side-to-side,
The new-experience-excitement still building,
So, I too put on my suit,
Used long ago for swimming pools.

It dredged memories
The long, boring summers,
Long-ago,
The endless, hot-humid, nothing-to-do-days,
Used sprinklers (and fire hydrants) 
For peek entertainment.

It was a reminder
That overlooked activities
(Sprinklers, drive in movies, puzzles, reading)
Right now
During this pandemic-slowed-summer-avoiding-crowds
Might be recycled 
For this summer, 
Perhaps, for the future.





Sunday, June 21, 2020

Father's Day: Ramps, Reminders

In the days leading up to Father's Day this year, I noticed a ramp, linking the front porch with the sidewalk, at a house where I knew the father had fought a hard battle against C-19. It took my breath away. It was a physical reminder of the serious impact of this virus on families, even the lucky ones. 

It was a reminder that even after days, weeks, months on a respirator and even after weeks, months in rehab, homecomings often include wheelchairs and other life-changing, long-lasting signs of the battle. 

It was a reminder that many families are facing this holiday without their father, grandfather, uncle, loved one.

It was a reminder that even as stores are planning to reopen (around here) and even as barber shops and hair salons are planning for a new normal, this virus and it's impact on lives is profound. 

It was a reminder of a lingering image of my own dad and his days, along with so many other dads, in a wheelchair, too weak to walk but still fighting to read, the NY Times, at the table.

It was a reminder of all those dads who will be working/distant/estranged, wishing they were with the families.

It was a reminder to wish all those dads who are changing diapers, coaching teams, planning fun, cooking dinners, working hard, and trying their best, a happy day.

It was a reminder to think about and pray for all those missing their dads or who wish to be dads.
It was a reminder to reach out, if you can, or remember, if you cannot.

Ramps are reminders that life and loved ones can change in a moment.
10' Aluminum Wheelchair Entry Ramp & Handrails - Easy Installation ...

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

#sol20 School Days, Dear Ol' PreCovid Days


I've been reading the guidelines for returning to school in the fall and like most others, find the concepts of "catching up on lost learning," and "learning while social distancing" daunting, at best.  Yet, I know that virtual school via "homeschooling" is challenging, at best ,and not a viable option for many families.

I'm pondering tiny classes meeting outdoors under tents, shade trees, and in areas formerly referred to as neighborhood playgrounds or baseball fields? I'm wondering how schools might look without buses or lunchrooms or shared materials or small group instruction!  I'm worried about how we can meet the needs of students who need intensive individual learning plans. 

It's a big task to rethink schools beyond our "quick fix" of distance learning; I am confident that there are options because schools are certainly not static forums for learning. Our PreCovid 21st Century schools were drastically different from the learning environments of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. 

So this reminder of the "good ol' days Pre Covid" is a "shout out" to all the teachers, students, parents, caregivers and administrators who did their best their best this year and who are going to spend their "summers" trying to come up with plans to meet curriculum mandates and to provide inclusive, differentiated instruction for the diverse learners

School days, School days,
Dear ol' Common Core days,
Objectives, assessments,
accountability, rule.
Curriculum driven, and test-score focused, too.
Kids brushed their hair and put on shoes,
Backpacks, water bottles, 
and snack sacks went, too.
We shared whiteboards and I pads and 
books each day.
We stressed over scores, grades and 
end of the year evals,
When we were carefree PreCovid.



Monday, June 8, 2020

#sol20 Learning During Tough Times; Hoping for Better Times

Buongiorno, Buon Pomeriggio, Buon Giornata, or Buonoa Serata

I'm pretty sure I am not alone in my self-reflective moments during this time that may become known as pandemic-economic depression-civil rights awareness-induced-change-in-how-we-live-work-think-about-communicate-with-others. 

To be honest, I've been thinking about what is most important and what I do not want in my life. I've spent more time planting (and then watering) flowers and cooking (and then eating) simple but healthy meals without running to stores for one more thing. I've missed family, friends, students, and travel. I've tried to help others navigate online learning, manage financial stress, deal with the emotional challenges of uncertainty. I've learned to live (well) without a new top from TJMaxx or clutter from Home Goods.

To be honest, my closets and drawers are not (yet) organized, most windows are still covered in construction dust, and my gardens are far from weed-free; however, I'm starting to learn a new language!  

To be honest, I had gotten a "Guidebook to Italian" shortly after I booked a dream vacation shortly before the pandemic shut down travel. I never even opened the book because, that dream vacation looked unlikely before the book even arrived!

To be honest, I was feeling like I was not accomplishing much this pandemic until a friend mentioned Duolingo and her own journey towards becoming bi-lingual so when she could travel.....

To be honest, at first is was hard,very hard. But, I've been at it every day for at least 30 minutes for 12 days now and not only is it getting harder, it's getting easier at the same time. Plus, I am feeling challenged and learning and looking forward, all good things, during these tough times.

To be honest, I've always put learning (apprendimento) and reading (leggere) ahead of cleaning (puliaia) closets to the chagrin of my mom who would sigh as I sat with a book (un libro) when I was supposed to be cleaning.

So, please (per favore) if you are looking for me early in the morning (mattina) or late in the evening (sera) you might just find me with my phone (telephone) and learning thanks to (freeDuolingo

Someday, in the (hopefully) not so distant future, I hope the pandemic and economic depression have eased and the civil rights awareness has increased. Someday, I hope there will be good times when I will visit (visitare) and hug family (la famiglia) and friends and use (uso) what I am learning while exploring and traveling.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

#sol20 June 2 The Era for Silent Protests Has Passed


       
I tried to write a SOL post last night,but I could not focus as recent violent interactions have left me upset and angry.
     
      Today, in spite of Blackout Tuesday, I'm writing to remind myself that silence is not an option when our core beliefs as a society are violated.  Certainly, Black lives matter, every single one. Certainly, racism and antisemitism are wrong. Certainly, violence, threats, use of money or power against any one of us is wrong. Certainly, our treatment of both immigrants and Native Americans is wrong. Certainly, if we are quiet, or complacent, then we are complicit, and that is wrong.

     So here is a SOL memory. Long ago, my family moved to Alabama and as we did in a new town, we visited the local Catholic Church to introduce ourselves. We were there only a few minutes when someone talked to my father and we left. He talked to my mother in hushed tones before addressing the situation. "We won't be going to church here," he said firmly, "as they do not believe as we do. Some people think the color of your skin makes you different.  That is not the case. God created everyone of us in his image."  Sadly, my family's small action, like the silent protests of so many did not change the culture of racism that exists many decades later.

      Certainly, we must do more than "silently protest." We must be outraged by all acts of violence against our fellow man and talk/write about it.. We cannot sit back and allow citizens or police to be injured or killed.  We must protect the right to protest without hurting others and join them with our feet, voices, and wallets.  We must protest through the electoral process when it is time. We should all actively revisit history so we can change the course of our society. We must actively protest with words, actions, wallets, and ballots. The era for silent protests has passed. 


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

#sol20 Do or Don't


"Don't go past this line," I heard myself say as one of my little friends rode his 12 inch bike like he was training for the NASCAR circuit. As the words hung in the air, he continued past the line looking towards me to see my reaction and I heard Peter Johnston reminding me to rephrase my comments in a positive direction. He did stop after a second, louder, strong reminder, but I was left reflecting on my own (and others) choice of words.

I overheard an exhausted mom and dad on a family on an evening bike ride with three young riders.
"Don't ride so fast around the corner."
"Don't go in the road."
I heard an exhausted mom and dad trying to keep their kids safe as they played.
"Don't go there."
"Don't put your feet down."

I remind my students ALL THE TIME that our words matter.  Our words are perhaps our most powerful tool for ensuring the kinds of behaviors we want and for preventing behaviors we do not want.  Yet, perhaps because we are all stressed from the uncertainty of our lives right now and exhausted from trying to stay home, to socially distance, to pay bills, and to be safe, we (that includes me) all need to remember OUR WORDS MATTER. 

So, "Ride up the the stop and turn yourself around."
"You are doing a great job staying in the middle of the sidewalk."
"Pick those feet up so you can go faster." 


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

#sol20 Memories of Barbie!

"What's in that box?" my little friend asked as we cleaned the garage.

"This was my Barbie case  when I was little, but I think the Barbies are your Mom's," I said remembering my original Barbie with the black and white striped suit and most anything of interest in modern times had been taken by my niece long, long ago.

I opened the box cautiously not sure if I would find...something requiring me to put the whole box in the garbage. But, the inside was as it was left when some little cousins played with the Barbie remnants long after my little girl, had abandoned them. Truth be told, my daughter (and I) were really not "into" Barbies and usually played with them when others were visiting.  I guess you could say we were "social" Barbie girls!

Back in the house, I got rid of a Barbie with a broken neck and cleaned others while my little friend excitedly explored the old dolls and new to her outfits. On a rainy afternoon after months of quarantining, Barbie put a smile of my little friend's face.

While I've never been a big Barbie fan, the memories of styles from Barbie's early days (ugh) along with the prices of outfits ($1.50-3.00) that somehow survived intact for decades put a smile on my face as well. Perhaps I should rethink the timeless and ageless Barbie?


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

#sol20 WITH Others

While I was trying to envision how to make this emotionally laden holiday the best it could be, a daughter, not too far away was already driving more than an hour in order to drop off a card and note telling her Mother how much she was loved.  In an effort to keep her parents safe, she left the note before they awoke and drove silently, more than an hour, back to her home. I think this is what love is all about. I'm inspired by this story.

While I was walking my quiet neighborhood streets, a daughter was having a virtual tea party, on fine china, with her mother and her preschool boys.  Real tea, real talk, real love, I suspect were part of that interaction that merged spaces and Facetime.  I'm grateful for technology.

While I was picking up sticks in the yard, a neighbor sat on her stoop while her daughter sat 10 feet away.  They laughed, talked, laughed and talked some more as the sun basked them in a reminder of the promise of family and love to conquer all.  I appreciate the image that love empowers problem solving,

While I reflected, I remembered those who had recently lost Mothers, children, or others without even the comfort of family and friends.  I remembered the pain of want and loss this holiday brings for all those wanted motherhood and all those mourning, forever, the loss of children and mothers. Social media helps some and reaching out, virtually, helps others. I am sure this year's "quarantine" and social isolation has added to the underlying stress and anxiety.  

While I am trying to keep me, my friends, and my loved ones safe, I pray WE will be remembering and supporting and comforting and empowering and celebrating WITH others next year!