Category Archives: COVID-19

Reframe the Moment

I’ve struggled through the pandemic. I mea., duh. Who hasn’t? But I’ve let it borrow in my brain. Between Coronavirus and the vitriol of the President, I’ve been sad and angry and mortified and hopeless constantly for months.

I’ve lost my happy on such an extreme level it feels like I’ve changed at a molecular level.

Past night a former student posted the sign above, and when I saw it, my breath caught.

It’s the 2nd day of a 10-day break. It’s easy to find hope on day 2. But I am praying right now for God to give me peace when I go back to school. This is new. It’s okay to suck at it.

And the President is on his way to being gone from office, to be relegated to the history books as the worst President in the history of the United States, a threat to democracy we almost succumbed to, an angry, old, white man who can just go away.

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A Morning Date

The first day of Thanksgiving Break, a day when the next few weeks of covid are going to be awful, we made our way down to the Botanic Garden.

Yay library passes. You can check the passes out if you have a FWPL card and go for free.

Us. 😍

The garden was perfect. The weather is set to turn soon, but today was mid 70s. We went early because we wanted to miss the crowds.

The new topiaries were a highlight.

The big gorilla.
Love the elephants!
The giraffe is so cute.
The antelope, I think it’s and antelope anyway, was pretty.

The rose garden smelled amazing. I didn’t take pictures there, but they were setting up for a wedding. Talk about the perfect wedding location!

I loved these flowers in the Four Seasons garden.

We usually skip the Four Seasons Garden because we turn into the Japanese Garden, our favorite area in whole place, but I’m so glad we didn’t skip it this time.

She’s so pretty!

It’s a magical area of the garden.

We finished with the Japanese Garden. Now is the PERFECT time to go because the maples are red. Gorgeous!

We decided to take the street out instead of walking through the gardens when we left. It was busy by then and we try to stay far away from crowds.

By the nursery area I saw this flower and it made me happy.

It was a great day.

Synchronous, asynchronous and some whine

My thoughts on synchronous vs. asynchronous and just an overall classroom pulse check in the time of COVID.

We’re all learning together. Unfortunately that means the flops we usually work out before we get in front of the class are all there. It’s trial and error and some schools, some teachers, some students are further along than others.

I am new to all this and learning just like everyone else. But what I see is synchronous is school, like school always is, only with digital assignment submission. It’s kids doing the school day like they always would, but they’re on the computer or their phones taking part in the classroom. (I don’t know synchronous only classrooms so this could all be wrong!)

Asynchronous is online school and is different. The objectives might be the same, but how you get there is different. Simply recording a lesson and doing the same work as synchronous doesn’t work for a lot of kids because without that face to face chance to ask questions or help each other out, without the body language cues teachers pick up on to realize the class isn’t getting it, a lot of lessons aren’t understood. Or kids just get distracted and quit listening.

New concepts taught in an asynchronous environment take longer for kids to grasp. So if we do the very same work, asynchronous kids are often completely overwhelmed with the amount of work they have to do.

Asynchronous is great if you can stay focused and learn because once you’ve mastered the objectives, you are ready to go and can do your lessons whenever, wherever. It’s highly recommended you do them daily because getting behind creates a disaster.

This is what I’m seeing for my classes right now. I haven’t studied any actual data or talked to anyone else. I think online course design is desperately needed for asynchronous and few of us know anything about that. Online management tools are desperately needed for synchronous and we’re all learning as we go.
I don’t see how the littles could possibly stay focused for either without a helper there at their sides.

The older kids often struggle too.

We’re not magically making this the best ever. Teachers are trying but most of us don’t have the training or the background in developing these courses to make them amazing, not to mention we’re often doing both at the same time AND trying to keep up with grading and quality feedback, attendance, and building these classes from scratch.

Both leave you tired and cranky and prone to throwing your hands up and saying I can’t for a day or two which easily becomes a week or two which turns into more.

I don’t know synchronous, but in asynchronous the zeroes are plentiful and the constant contact for all the kids who just don’t do is a huge job also. Sometimes you call and you hear a desperate adult at home too.

ALL of this is educating in the midst of trauma. Teachers, students and adults at home are going through trauma constantly right now.

When covid ends I believe both forms of learning will be part of our schools forever. But I hope it will be easier without the constant fear and headache and absences caused by covid and all the related pitfalls.

I have a student going into her fourth quarantine. If she were younger and childcare was an issue, a parent would have to quit a job.

I have students whose parents had solid middle class jobs who are now working three lower paying jobs to try to make ends meet. Relationships are rocky, depression is amplified because you’re alone more so your brain can lie to you more. This virus is hard and not just if you get the virus.

When covid is over developing online courses will be fun and exciting. Doing it now is neither. But we’re doing it because we have to. And we do have to. Schools that don’t are ignoring science, and that’s a strange stance for a place of learning to take.

Online won’t go away when covid does. So many students are thriving and parents like the option. I have a student on vacation in Mexico with a 100 right now. He hasn’t missed a day. That is so cool. But online will not be the constant. It’s just not the same.

One thing for certain, I have no idea how to do this. But I have some successes. I have a lot of failures too. Strangely the toughest class to figure out is yearbook. I just can’t figure out how to do it and have fun. Some kids are seeing amazing success. Some are struggling. Everything takes way longer to do. Like everything else with all this, it’s trial and error. I’m going to learn from this. And some of those lessons will be golden. Right now I’m the struggling kid. And I REALLY hate that. That right there is a lesson.

And God save me from another reporter making nasty comments about teachers not doing their jobs because their kid won’t do the work at home. Yes, NYC reporter raking in the big bucks, teachers should risk their lives and the lives of the community because Johnny wanted to play Among Us all day instead of doing school. Ugh. It’s a pandemic. Deal with it.

Okay, I know that’s a bad attitude, but teachers—those in remote only areas and those like me who are hybrid (yay)—are working three to four full time jobs right now trying to make this work. We don’t need reporters throwing us under the bus.

Thank the Lord there’s a light. The vaccines are coming. Prayers to making it there unscathed.

Sick with a cold

It’s actually probably a sinus infection. Now that my negative results are in I can call my doc for a telemedicine appointment and get an antibiotic. Since fevers and chills have been part of this I need the meds instead of just gallons of water and oranges and Theraflu.

I get one of these things 2-3 times a year most years. Looks like this year is no different. Except for the dread that goes through you when you feel like crap now because of covid.

I’m not working tomorrow. I’m so glad I don’t have covid, that my one week of real teaching week before last didn’t turn into a nightmare.

Our cases are hitting record levels again. We have more covid cases in the hospital than ever and hospitalizations and deaths lag positives so the next two weeks are going to be awful. We’re going to go through what my hometown is still going through now. I will never understand how we let this happen. How we let the angry President turn masks into a political statement.

How people followed him so fervently they accepted that his proven lies were real and that Dr. Fauci was lying. And then, when it was so clear COVID was real, people either continued parroting the lies OR they shrugged and said sucks so many people have to die.

We’re here now in this space of waiting with dread for what comes next for the nation. But two of the vaccines are going to be ready soon so help is coming.

I don’t have covid. I’m so, so thankful.

Nope

I had so much fun teaching for a week. I’d been lulled into a false sense of security. I forgot the rule: Coronavirus is going to do what Coronavirus does.

So cases and quarantines exploded last week and were remote only this week. We’re supposed to go back Monday.

It’s not a surprise cases exploded at school. They’ve exploded everywhere. Our public health director is pleading for schools to close before hospitals end up full. Our county judge is asking us to stop sports.

Our school let us know the cases so far have not been tied to school. That’s good.

Prayer please. I loved teaching like normal to both virtual and in-person kids last week. It was so fun. But it’s not safe.

Ugh. Back to behind the desk and videos. This is awful.

President-Elect Biden and VP-Elect Harris!

Trying to put my thoughts into words is tough.

I’ve been joyscrolling all day. Thanks for the new word, twitter!

Joe Biden is our President-elect. Kamala Harris the Vice President-elect.

I’m just so relieved.

Four years ago I cried all night after Hillary lost. It wasn’t just about Hillary, though. It was that for the 18 months before the election I had watched Trump spew ugliness and hate and still end up the Republican nominee and then President.

The reality was so much worse than my fears. And it was apparent immediately.

His acceptance speech after being sworn in was ugly and he immediately signed a racist executive order that stranded immigrants and naturalized citizens in airports.

Under Trump I’ve watched people I love turn Jesus into a weapon. I’ve watched hate eclipse love time and time again.

From babies in cages to covid is a hoax to Putin told him he didn’t do it so Putin didn’t do it to calling white nationalists very fine people after one killed a peaceful protester. The list could go on and on and on.

It feels like I’ve lived on pause a lot of the last four years, holding my breath, praying it wouldn’t be so bad, watching it get worse and worse and worse.

I’m a creator. I write. I write happily ever after. But trying to find love in the midst of so much angry vitriol is hard.

Now I can breathe. Fully, deeply.

I do not believe all republicans are Trump and his ugliness and his ego. I hope we never see a politician of his ilk in this nation again.

I’m so thankful Joe Biden is the next President of the United States.

Love is love is love is love.

Immigrants don’t belong in cages. Children should not be stripped from their parents.

Jesus is my lord and savior but he is NOT the sole God of this nation. Our nation is not a theocracy. The first amendment is freedom to believe what you believe or NOT. Christianity is not in danger because of this. Climate change is real. Science should dictate the covid response. Corporations ARE NOT people. A woman’s right to choose is constitutionally protected. Health care is a human right. Public education is a foundation of the democracy. DACA recipients need a path to citizenship and immigration reform needs to happen now and spending money on a wall between nations is wrong on so many levels.

I’m so thankful Joe Biden is our President elect. It’s time for us to get busy and do the hard work to make this a nation of the people for the people. All the people.

God Bless America!

Taught Today

We’re studying student free speech and the first amendment. It’s awesome to listen to kids defend their rights.

I haven’t taught this year until now. I’ve facilitated work on Canvas. I’ve done a few quick lessons, but no real teaching.

I couldn’t do it anymore. I hate school like that. But if kids want that, they can continue. In class, I’m teaching, and it is fun again.

I have no idea how to do a yearbook in the pandemic though. We’re trying, but I’m lost. I had a yearbook nightmare that one of the National directors said he loved the first 32 pages of our book. But what happened to the rest? And the rest was just blank, empty, undone.

I hate COVID. But, who doesn’t?

It’s Election Day in the US and right now it looks like the President whose default is hate-filled rhetoric and playing golf will win again. It’s not definite, and it’s so close so who knows.

I don’t even recognize this country. So many things are at risk. Health care, choice, marriage equality, DACA, safety net programs like Medicaid and SNAP benefits, the minimum wage, environmental protections. It’s so hard to understand how people can ignore the hate that spews and vote for him. But they do. And I have to find a way to not dwell on it. The first time I thought it was an anomaly. Now, it’s a choice knowing full well what has been said and accepting it. Cloaking it in Jesus is just something else altogether. That it’s happening in the shadow of the needless COVID deaths of 250,000 and a continued lack of a national plan? I just can’t even.

On a bright note my hometown passed a secondary bond so new high schools! I’m so happy for them!

It’s hard to find happy now. It’s going to take a lot of prayer.

I think sometimes maybe I should run for office. But I don’t know. I’m not really a politician. It’s just hard to sit on the sidelines when it feels like the world is falling apart. When it feels like the nation is marching toward authoritarianism. The pendulum will swing. I just wish it had swung soundly tonight.

Rebecca

When I was a kid my grandma gave me Rebecca to read and told me she and my mom loved it.

I loved it too.

AMC and TCM were the movie channels we loved the most. Rebecca was the best, but not as good as the book.

Flash forward 40 years to the new Rebecca. I couldn’t wait to watch it. I convinced Brian he needed to watch it too.

And….I was so disappointed. The movie was lovely, but it wasn’t terrifying. None of the fear I felt for the new Mrs DeWinter came though. Mrs. Danvers was evil but not evil enough. Max was a jerk. But it was never dark enough…I thought.

So I searched for my old friend, the 1940 classic. Fortunately the library had it because it’s not available to stream.

I knew it was the perfect Halloween treat.

We watched and…it’s lovely but it’s not scary. And the plot doesn’t translate well. Max is awful. Mrs. Danvers is evil but not the monster I remembered. And the tension I remembered just wasn’t there.

For the last week I’ve thought the problem with the new Rebecca was all its own. Now I know, the problem is they stayed too true to the classic.

It was a sad ending to Halloween. But I’ll survive.

It was colonoscopy day. They found five precancerous polyps. I should be fine but I get to do it again in three years instead of 10. That’s okay. I’m so glad I got mine done. My brother was diagnosed with colon cancer this month and it’s the one thing he asked us to make sure we got done. I would have put this off as long as possible, which is the wrong answer. Colon cancer is asymptomatic until it’s a problem. Colonoscopies are part of our wellness checkups because they save lives. Glad I got mine done.

Sad that covid numbers are increasing again. We’re supposed to go to Cleveland next week. I don’t know why people wouldn’t just follow the health recommendations so we could get through this. I miss my kid and her kids. I want to see them. Covid sucks. Masks save lives.

My Thoughts Are Not Me

All my joints started popping this summer. My hips, my knees, my shoulders. Pop, pop, pop.

After walking a hundred miles for senior photos and retakes Monday, my feet wanted to die. But I made it home, DH made me dinner, and a sleep later I was mostly recovered.

Today though the HOCO parade meant more walking. And the joint pops were a little more active than normal. So my brain went to work: no, you can’t go take photos. No, you just need to stay inside and let the kids do it.

I wasn’t hurting at all, but the pops freaked me out.

I sat at my desk all woe is me. Until it was time to start. I pushed the thoughts away, grabbed my phone and walked out into a beautiful evening filled with the fight sone and so many student groups. It was awesome.

Now I’m home. The pops are still a thing but there’s no pain. I’m glad I didn’t let my woe is me steal this night.

Masks everywhere still because COVID is real. Cases are on the way up. It’s all so worrisome.

Awake Again

I wish I could just ignore the news.

But there’s an ache in my heart when I look at the ugly angry place we’re in now. And I can’t help but watch and hope and pray.

I’m terrified of what comes next if he wins again. I knew, in 2016 when I cried myself to sleep that November night, I knew. And still I had no idea.

Coronavirus has exploded again and the President is out holding giant maskless rallies of hate and adulation. Super spreader events to be sure. When the man said he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone and his voters would still vote for him, he was so right. That’s what he’s doing. And they will still vote for him.

We ate Downtown today. We’ve gone Downtown several times since the pandemic started. It’s always been super strict. Masks everywhere, fewer people, definite social distancing. Not today.

Today while hospitals issues stark warnings and begged people to wear masks when out, practice social distancing, stay home if you can, our Downtown was crowded. The Square was closed still but it was busy. Masks were down below noses and people were walking in large bustling crowds.

We usually walk around and enjoy being outside in one of our favorite places. Today we went straight home. It’s not worth the risk.

I told my students everyone should look at what they do. Most of the kids take this seriously. They want to be in school. They know masks and distancing are how we get to stay open.

I don’t know if I’ll ever look back at this time. If I’ll want to. It might be too traumatic, but if I do I’m positive I’ll remember this day and how unsettling it has been.