Monthly Archives: May 2020

Year 26 Done

In the midst of chaos I finished year 26. I attended graduation and enjoyed seeing and talking to people while also practicing social distancing.

Masks are hot. Way hotter than I expected. That’s my takeaway from this week of wearing a mask every day for at least three hours. Teaching in one will be tough, but I’ll do it.

Pandemic, protests and riots, graduation. I’m glad this school year is over, but I will miss these seniors. I pray for our nation.

This is the reality of living in a nation where division is a constant. That has to end. I hope people will vote this man out of office.

I’m terrified of the COVID numbers in two weeks.

Minnesota Burning

I accidentally watched the murder of George Floyd.

I knew about it. My heart was broken. But I was busy with yearbooks and I didn’t watch the news until I sat down that day. And right when I sat, they rolled the video.

I heard him pleading and told Brian to turn the station. Turn it. Turn it. Turn it. I covered my ears and tried not to throw up as I tried not to process the reality of a man being killed by a policeman on screen in front of me.

His voice still haunts me.

I hope it always will.

Because that will make me act. I need to act because I can close my eyes and cover my ears and live with the haunting voice begging for his life. But a lot of people can’t. My black friends live with the knowledge that this could be them, could be their sons and daughters, their husbands or wives, their grandmothers. They can’t just say turn it off.

I read White Fragility this year. It’s not enough, but I’m working on understanding my privilege and ending systemic racism.

Last night and tonight Minneapolis burns as rioters express their rage with a system that allows this to happen again and again and again, often without justice.

It’s heartbreaking and awful to watch. It’s terrible.

And yet.

Something has to change. Systemic racism, police brutality against black people. It can’t continue.

Praying for peace. Praying for love. Praying for change. We have to change this, white people. We have to.

It’s Different

Walking into the scene shop to get started organizing yearbooks, my breath caught and I had to swallow tears. Usually opening the boxes is one of the most joyful moments of the year. There’s music and dancing and awe when the editors have the staff gather round for the unveiling.

The editors take the staff through page by page and tell them stories, and we laugh, even over the pages that made us cry.

And then the kids alphabetize the yearbook boxes, find their books and pour over the pages for an hour. After that we have our awards ceremony and eat.

Then it’s more organizing followed by the staff signing party.

Kids are in and out because they have tests or makeup work or projects to present. The room is constant activity. Constant music—sometimes I have to say “hey, language in the newsroom,” and we laugh and laugh and laugh.

Then we open the doors for early distribution and the signing party.

Sometimes there’s cake.

This year it’s me and DH, and it’s all task oriented. Do this, do that, get done.

Distribution starts Tuesday and runs 3 hours a day through Friday.

I have no idea what to expect.

I don’t have those feel-good moments of watching my editors open their books for the first time. I don’t have video of them going through page by page. I don’t have the happy to get me through the complaints that are simply part of the publication process.

Or the memories of the staff as they look trough their books. This year’s book is the biggest ever for CTHS at 255 pages. The staff would have loved that celebration.

I know I need to shift my mindset. To embrace the happy that happened. But this is hard.

I’m thankful to DH. For 21 years he’s offered to help with yearbooks. Today he got to do it!

I’m so proud of my editors who can’t be with me today but who worked SO HARD. They completed over 100 pages at home in a month on little laptops in quarantine. A parent emailed me in April to see if we were even going to have a yearbook since school closed and nothing happened. I was able to say “oh, no. We had a year and a lot happened. And the end looked different, but we still have a book. And the book even covers the end.” We have four spreads of National COVID coverage—thanks Walsworth— and two spreads of CTHS coverage done with help from all my classes. That’s a victory, a huge thing to be happy over!

I’m so thankful to my school and the support they’ve shown.

One more week.

It’s not the book we planned exactly, some pages had to be replaced, but it will always be the most memorable. And through the bad—thanks Coronavirus—there were some really great moments.

DH helping with yearbooks. ❤️💜💛

We Don’t Know

I just read these words and they struck a chord.

We don’t know. By we I mean the regular old everyday folks. Not the doctors and epidemiologists and that doc in Houston who went to Asia to learn how to fight SARS and says he’s a COVIDOLOGIST now and none of the 50+ patients in his little hospital have died.

He knows, maybe. They know, sort of.

But most of us don’t know. At all.

And that’s why I’ll wear a mask when I’m out.

I don’t know.

I’m a journalism teacher. I know NOTHING about this except what I read in newspapers and hear Dr. Fauci tell us.

It’s one of those what if it’s right things for me. And I’ll gladly continue hoping the mask is right because Dr. Fauci said now it is and he wore one today for the press conference.

That’s it. That’s enough for me.

Edited to add. They probably know. They’re warning us. Man, this is hard.

We Don’t Have To Be Constantly Aware

It’s hard to break a news addiction.

But I’m trying.

DH turns the news on and keeps it on all day. Unless Ancient Aliens is on. AA marathon, all bets are off. Lol.

Honestly I didn’t know how much news my husband consumed until quarantine. I’m a fan of the news. A big fan. But right now, leaving the TV on the news is not okay. It’s awful to watch the COVID numbers increase, to hear the President say something ridiculous like we don’t need to test because if we don’t test our numbers won’t be so high, to see people storming capitols with guns, to watch a black man gunned down on his daily jog…the list goes on. When the news is on all morning, the list is long and enraging.

I’m working on breaking my news addiction. And it’s working.

What we’re doing instead of watching the news: music. iTunes is outstanding and we’ve listened to so many different artists lately. Our favorite right now is Nora Jones.

That’s where we are. I need to break the constant news habit before summer. Right now I have classes and grading to take me away, but once we get to summer…oh boy.

It Won’t Be The Same

Our librarian posted an article with links to a TEA letter to districts that we need to prepare for school to be different next year.

At first I was upset. This has been hard. Maybe the hardest thing I’ve ever done as an educator.

What we’re doing isn’t true distance learning. We’re in crisis mode emotionally, physically, spiritually. This pandemic is not something we can just power through. Our kids are working more than ever, babysitting, trying to focus, dealing with crappy Internet, sharing technology with siblings, dealing with the repercussions of parents’ lost jobs.

All of this has been a giant shock to the system.

BUT

Next year we can prepare.

We can look at best practices and work together to develop strategies for success. Educators can learn content delivery systems and how to use our tech resources.

School can’t be what it’s always been in the middle of a deadly pandemic. Online education can’t be the same as what we do in class. A mix of distance learning and in class learning can’t be the same. The same is simply not.

But what we do can still be solid.

It won’t be easy.

All those shocks to the system are still a thing. We won’t magically solve the social issues the pandemic made glaringly obvious. But we can do school.

And like our librarian said, we have the opportunity to make lasting change.

Link to article with TEA guidance.

It’s Hard Not To Be Angry

But it’s not healthy to be angry all the time.

And honestly, we know there are outside influencers trying to keep us divided. All the time.

Social media is tough. I love politics, but when every little thing is political, politics ceases to be fun. During quarantine when your only contact with some people is social media posting politics all the time skews things, and when you live in the middle of red America, it skews them in a bad way.

It took me a long time to get here, but I made it. At least I made it today.

My goal is to stop posting in anger and instead to just post fully sourced facts.

No memes, no opinion pieces. Just facts. When I’m talking politics.

It won’t change anyone’s mind, I don’t think, but hopefully it will help me. And maybe if I’m making this a personal challenge, I’ll be doing my part to stop creating division.

Researching Vote By Mail

So far I’ve researched Colorado and Oregon.

Washington is next.

I started my research after reading how many people is Wisconsin have COVID after voting in person or working the polls in their election. They tried to do something other than in-person voting but the Supreme Court ruled it was too late and they had to go if they wanted to vote.

My immediate response was vote-by-mail, arranging it now so the late timeline isn’t an issue, is the answer to voting in the time of COVId.

But, I’m a recovering conservative, and I’ve had years of training on why vote-by-mail is a bad idea.

So I decided to research. Find facts that aren’t tied to partisan sources.

And it has been so much fun. I swear I could spend ALL day doing this and never get tired of it.

Right now I’m researching basic facts. I’ll start looking at questions and concerns after that.

The research is on my Facebook page. I’ll add it here too once I look at Washington.

One of the biggest thing this has done is give my brain a way to get super focused and not stay freaked out over COVID.

I had to go to Target today. Maybe three other customers were wearing masks. Groups of people walking around like this is no big deal.

Smh.

You know, these people are going to keep us out of school again. They’re going to land us at 3k deaths a day. I just don’t get it.

But researching vote-by-mail is helping me not totally lose it at all that.

I was in a real bad place last week. I can’t let myself go there again. This will help.

The Band

Forever ago my Music Appreciation professor told us we all loved The Band but we didn’t know it.

And then he played us some great music.

And I promptly for about them until today when DH started The Band documentary by Scorsese. And all I can say is Amazon Prime made my day today. I now have an entire The Band playlist.

We watched RUSH 2112 after.

Quarantine sucks, but this was nice. I’m not sure it would have happened before we slowed down.

A side note: my Music Appreciation professor was awesome. Dr Crews knew most of us in the class were there for an art elective, but he still made the class challenging, fun and informative. Midwestern State University was and is a great school.

Time

So it turns out I’m a procrastinator, even in a pandemic quarantine, where time is endless.

That’s a shocker.

Books are great. I love them, now more than ever except maybe back when I was a kid, new to Burkburnett, TX, and walked into the best library ever determined to read every single book on the shelf.

Back then I packed my mom’s bag with all the books I could check out, and strangely, she let me check out any book I wanted. My mom is super right wing these days, but back then, she was incredibly progressive. Weird.

Book I’m reading now: Little Fires Everywhere. Verdict’s still out on this one. It’s enough to keep me reading because the characters are great, but the paragraphs are often super long (I have no idea why this bothers me. It makes me impatient as I read. It doesn’t change the cadence of the words, I don’t think) and the story feels slow 1/3 of the way in. Still, strong characters are my jam, and these characters are awesome. I figure as the story progresses all these little pieces that feel slow are going to be super important. Interesting note: my daughter is moving to the town the book is set in next week. Back to those long paragraphs: as I write this I wonder if the slow unraveling if the plot is mirrored in the long paragraphs adding to the sense of doom. The book starts with the little fires that are big fires but doesn’t really explain then flashes back….yeah. I bet those paragraphs are super important to the storytelling. I know nothing about this story other than it’s a series on Hulu so it will be interesting to see what I think when I reach the end.

***edited to add: HOLY COW! Some of the fires are NOT little at all. They seem little and then BOOM, explosion.

***edited AGAIN 2/3s through. OMG, this book. This. Book. Is. Incredible. How is it so good?!

*****😭😭😭 This is the kind of book you spend years analyzing. The kind you teach, and no matter how many times you read it, you find something new. 😭😭😭

Finished the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, at least through book 3. Loved it. Looking forward to the next ones.

This is all hard, but reading helps. It helps keep my mind off the news, helps keep me engaged, helps me remember what was and pray for what will be.