Tuesday, September 29, 2020

#sol2020 My Words Matter

It was a short walk this morning between virtual library time and virtual word study time under skies that were dark and foreboding.  We were only planning to walk to the end of the block to see the blow-up lawn decor that had popped up at a nearby house. I looked at the skies even as I agreed to go, and reminded myself that it had been dark and dreary on and off for weeks with hardly a drop of rain enriching our dusty ground.  So we headed out, without an umbrella or rain gear! It was just going to be a short walk!

After appreciating the multiple, amazing (to kids) blow-ups on that lawn by counting, studying, comparing and describing them, I was coerced into going down the block just a wee bit to see a few more decorations (no where near as fantastical)......and then, it started!

Slowly, just a mist began to fall; then surely, a full on, long awaited rain event began! So there I was stuck in the rain a few blocks from home!  I suggested we walk/jog as fast as we could safely go in the now full on rain while singing to try to make the rain go away.  "Rain, rain, go away, come again another day.....," we sang at the top of our lungs as a we made our way home!  

It was only a couple of blocks but miraculously, even before we turned into our driveway, the rain stopped!  The sun did not come out and the skies did not turn bright, but for just a few moments, the rain reduced to a mist barely perceptible when standing under a massive old oak. 

"Wow, my words matter," she muttered thinking aloud that her words had altered the course of the weather.  

"They sure do," I though silently as we went inside just before the skies reopened.  

I hope she always knows her words matter.  I'm reminded my words, your words, politicians words.......everyone's words matter! 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Thinking: This Fall

  I'm thinking about teachers, children, 

Returning to classrooms

Not cleaned like hospitals,

Returning to Virtual living rooms,

Manned by those who thought zoom meant fast. 

Returning to an uncertain future,

Defined by numbers, statistics,

Until someone or someone close to someone

Gets sick.

I'm thinking about all those college teachers, students,

Returning home, already,

Returning to rooms to learn, virtually,

Redefining learning, growing, college-life.

I'm thinking about all those parents,

Managing a changing learning world

Where the only thing that is certain is uncertainty.

It's hard for all the stake holders in this fall scenario.

Even administrators who are trying

To balance needs, wants, resources,

Socio-emotional and academic learning.

Monday, September 21, 2020

#sol2020 Things I Never Could Have Imagined


I've spent a lifetime in schools, as a student, teacher, mentor, and THOUGHT I had heard and seen everything; however, this fall, I am teaching grad students, observing a kindergarten virtual school, and homeschooling a preschooler, providing me with some interesting observations on learning remotely.  There are many things I never could have imagined. 

  • "You will have to pretend those due dates aren't in the syllabus because school hasn't started!"
  • "It looks like a cat is coming to writers' workshop today.  Can cats write?"
  • "I don't want to color.  I just want to play"
  • "I'm walking home, professor, but I hear you loud and clear."
  • "Not sure who sneezed, but bless you."
  • "I'm not sure what the number of my Breakout group was?"
  • "Un-mute yourself."
  • "How do you do observations virtually?"
  • "Stop playing with your mouse!"
  • "Pay attention." **** some things are normal....teachers have been saying this forever....

Saturday, September 12, 2020

This is Not Normal

 A good blog post, like a good small moment, focuses on one topic.  But when you haven't written for a month, and even though you have been nowhere and done nothing worthy of mention, many moments have passed and it is hard to focus on one when you finally decided to write!  That is where I am this morning as the air has turned, promising fall is near and summer is ending.  

While cooler temperatures and searching for a sweatshirt are familiar, there is little else that is this September. Like SO many teachers and students, I am teaching virtually, online through Zoom, a platform I, like most others, did not even know existed until recently.  Now, if I had been a savvy investor, I would have bought stock in this platform and watched it zoom!  Of course, I never thought of that.  I did not think about the long term implications of this pandemic until I had to do so....

For the record, Zoom school is not easier for anyone.  Yes, you can teach in sweatpants or shorts and learn in pajamas.  Yes, you do save time commuting, traveling, busing, and perhaps packing lunches.  Nothing else is easier.  The planning end is immense and frankly daunting.  The goal of meeting students where they are and helping them each grow and learn is frankly daunting. How can you keep students engaged when you cannot coerce with proximity, stare to corral attention, or empower with encouragement?  

For the record, in person school is not easier either as sharing, cooperating, and eye to eye connecting is the heart and soul of learning.  Yes, the kids have someplace to go for a bit; yet, the worry is intense and the risks daunting.  How can you keep students engaged when you cannot coerce with proximity, stare to corral attention, or empower with encouragement?  

So, here's a shout-out to the teachers, pod-teachers, brand-new-thrown-into-teaching, zoom-newbies, administrators, parent-educators, grandparents-in-charge, and everyone else struggling always, or at least at times, with the unbelievable demands on your time, energy, love and patience.  This fall/year is not/will not easy - for everyone.  

To my former colleagues, who are still in the trenches, to my former grad students, who are now teachers, to my son, and my nieces, who are teachers and parents and students, I wish you all a safe school year.  To my grandchildren entering the murky waters of kindergarten and to everyone one of you working with kids who find learning challenging, know you are heroes.  Be on the lookout for stress and share compassion. This is not anyone's idea of normal.