Category Archives: education

Not the Best in the World

A long time ago I had a few posts about education go viral. In one of the posts I said something about the USA, the best country in the world. And several people took me to task. They said they agreed with everything else I’d written, but the way US citizens like me felt like our country was the best in the world and said it so freely despite evidence to the contrary was indicative of an attitude that would destroy us one day.

I apologized then. The internet is huge and people from all over the world see posts sometimes. I never really thought about that.

Now I just want to say those people were so right. Australia, Canada, Germany and the UK chimed in back then.

Now here we are with exploding COVID cases and all those countries have it under control. We have half the population calling the virus a hoax, refusing the wear masks, and swearing they know better than doctors and scientists.

We have people going broke over healthcare and being evicted in the middle of all this, and our government is trying to end the ACA.

This is sad. It was preventable.

I sure hope we vote the Trumpists out of office in November.

COVID still raging

If I see one more post saying teachers are heroes and we can handle reopening schools in Texas where we are setting record numbers for cases and hospitalizations, I’m going to scream.

Teachers aren’t heroes. We are people. And we aren’t your sacrificial lambs.

If and when we go back into the classroom during this outbreak, you need to know some of us will absolutely die because that’s the nature of COVID.

Our classrooms are enclosed spaces. Many are without windows. We don’t have giant COVID killing ventilation. I don’t even know if that’s a thing.

I do know I am so torn right now. I want to see my students. I want to teach FOR REAL, face to face, exciting, fun lessons.

But I also want to live.

Let’s face it. It DIDN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY. But our President refused to wear a mask and said this was all a hoax and fake news. Then our governor who had a plan based on science threw the plan out after a visit to the White House and a salon owner showed the law means nothing if you’re white and beautiful. We opened up, Abbott overruled local mitigation efforts, and here we are living the Patrick Plan of Die for the Dollar.

So yeah, it didn’t have to be this way. But it is.

TEA has said we have to open. God bless the school leaders trying to find the best, safest way to make this happen.

But none of us are heroes. We’re teachers. And it’s a crying shame Commissioner Morath is willing to sacrifice us.

The Dan Patrick Plan

Teachers, it was nice knowing ya. Thank you for your patriotism. If you die, know it was for the good of the billionaires who continue earning bank during this hellscape called COVID-19.

We’re opening schools.

It will be “safe” but no masks and no testing required.

Thank ya. Good luck making it through while we run with the far right ideology of herd immunity.

Not the science. Who cares what docs say? Parents got to go to work, so schools will open.

I feel so stupid for thinking back when Patrick first told us all we’d be happy to die for the cause of capitalism run amok that people would say no way, stay home and wear masks if they had to go out.

This is going to be a nightmare.

We’re going to do it as best we can.

Fellow teachers, especially all of us over 50, may the odds be ever in our favor.

***do not yell at school admin. They’re doing the best they can with what they’ve got. The state took the CARES Act funding they thought they were getting, and the state is dictating all of this while giving little direction. You want to fix things? Vote for politicians who support public education. If you need help knowing who they are, check out Texans For Public Education.

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.

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.

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.

Guns are the problem

I tell myself I’d throw my body in front of a killer intent on shooting my students. I tell myself that every time there’s another school shooting. That means I tell myself this at least monthly and usually more often than that.

The last month more than one student died throwing themselves in front of killers with guns. And both of them have been lauded as heroes.

They are. They are heroes. But they are victims too. And I am so sick of reading people post about their heroism while defending the unending gun culture in this country.

These young people died because we have a problem we refuse to address.

Yes, it’s evil. Evil is everywhere. But we’re the country where gun violence is the second leading cause of death for young people. We’re the country where a school shooting has to have a bigger story to even make the national news. We’re the country where states decide to arm teachers in answer to the gun epidemic instead of addressing the real gun problems. Where prosecutors press charges on bartenders who serve mass shooters instead of fighting to change the gun laws.

Yes, the students who died this month throwing themselves in front of gun wielding killers are heroes. But they’re also tragic reminders that we are perfectly fine letting our children die in schools, in movie theaters, in shopping malls, at concerts, in churches, instead of saying no more.

Guns do kill people. They’ve killed an awful lot of kids since Columbine. And we’ve done nothing to try to fix that travesty.

Living Deliberately

Maybe that headline is little too much, but I’m making a point to be a more aware of my time second semester.

It’s super easy to get caught in work and to live in the newsroom. I like it there. It’s fun. I like the kids. We do great work. The students like 80s music and will jump into a dance party on demand. I mean, yeah. It’s AWESOME.

But I need to reclaim my time. And they need to reclaim theirs.

Yes, after school deadlines are part of my world. No, staying after school every day is not healthy, wise or a good lesson for my kids.

So…

I have a signup sheet on the table. If kids need to work after school outside of designated work nights or past the 30 minutes I’m always here, they have to sign up on Monday for the week. They can’t stay after Friday. We’ll see about Saturday mornings. They’re fun but they make the weekend short, and that’s not good for any of us.

This live deliberately goal will require all of us to plan better. It will also encourage us to do more outside the classroom.

I want my room to be vibrant and alive and exciting and fun. But I want us all to be healthy with the time we spend.

We’ll see how it works. 😊👩‍💻👏

An aside: you guys, Quest chips are LCHF heaven.

What I’m Loving: coffee, Diet Dr Pepper, these temperatures, Quest chips, LCHF, our yearbook cover, the scene I just wrote in my WIP, getting all my electrolytes in, the Daily Calm

What I’m Writing: So Much For Happily Ever After

Doubt Demons

I passed out doubt demons in class today. I started class showing off mine. His name is Freddy.

I told the kids I write novels and love words and help edit others’ work, and still there are times I sit at the computer and hate everything about everything. I hate the way the words look, they way they feel when I say them, the scene they’re part of. I hate the commas and periods and pronouns. I hate it all. And if I let it, that feeling will consume me and the work and it’s so bad I just want to trash it all and start something shiny and new and fun. Something I can LOVE. But with my doubt demon around, I can pick him up, put him on my finger and say, “Not today, Freddy. Not today.”

After I told my story, I broke out the demons and invited the kids to choose their own. No one had to, but if they wanted one, they could take one, name it and have it out at their workstations while they work the rest of the year.

I thought I’d been pretty open about my writing, but as I told my story today my kids sat there listening and nodding their heads and even saying “Yes!” at times. They’re halfway through the year and they’ve faced all the doubt struggles that come with interviewing and writing and designing and photo stories. They know their work is going to be published and it lasts forever and the pressure is real. Some of them write creatively outside our class. They understand doubt. But until today I don’t think it ever really connected that I know doubt too.

I hope the doubt demons help us all banish the negativity and embrace the reality that the doubt is just part of the process.

*I ordered my doubt demons at Archie McPhee.

I’m thankful to Angelique L’Amour who introduced me to Doubt Demons at last year’s DFW Writers Conference. If you get a chance, definitely take her classes!

What I’m Loving: Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead, LCHF, Finals!, Saginaw Night Writers, Quest nacho cheese flavored chips

What I’m Writing: So Much For Happily Ever After

Books I’ve Loved This Year: Atomic Habits, Dumplin’

Teenagers, Teenagers

Spent today with teenagers who chose to give up their Saturday to compete in UIL Academics.

People trash talk teenagers all the time. But you know what? Young people make me happy.

They believe absolutely that they can do almost anything unless that belief has been sucked out of them. They will defend their beliefs with research and a well thought out argument. They are kind and caring and considerate, and they often reach out when they see someone hurting or alone. Even if they don’t know that someone.

They are smart! When I was in school we had to take math. Not Algebra. Math. And science? Physical Science and Biology. Social studies and English weren’t even required four years. Sure, some kids did more. But you didn’t have to to graduate. These kids take tons of tough classes and still work and juggle busy electives AND give up their weekends for UIL.

People talk about teen attitudes, and yeah, they can roll their eyes so far into the backs of their heads I wonder about their health. But you know what? Go hang out on twitter for more than five minutes. You’ll see they’re just in training.

Teenagers are great. Glad I got to spend my Saturday with a few.