Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Chicken Little


I have been angry for the last sixteen months. 

Sixteen months ago, for those of you who need reminding, everything in the country stopped as a pandemic of almost unbelievable proportions exploded. I do say "also unbelievable" because there were and still are some people who claim not to believe in it. But let us put them aside for now. 

Our students, my students, went home. How long would they be home? No one knew. Three weeks? Five? The rest of the school year was taught online, with myself and teachers like me struggling to find ways to reach kids and deliver instruction. While those in leadership positions did...I'm still not sure what.

But they assured us that next year they would be ready. They spent all summer making plans for the coming school year. What were those plans, exactly? No one will ever know. Unless the plans were, "Head to the Winchester. Have a pint. Wait for this to all blow over." Because we started the 2020-2021 school year with "safe return" on our lips. Every leader wanted to be ready to get kids back to school. All they would talk about his how crap a job teachers did handling the previous year and how much better teachers were going to do this year. Programs were purchased and launched without any testing, vetting, or teacher input. Schedules were made and remade. And always "safe return" was the word of the day. 

Eventually kids did go back. In my district they went back quarter time. Teachers went to school and taught in the morning online. And in the afternoon A or B cohorts would come to school on Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday for...stuff. Socially distanced stuff. Because they needed the contact, even though the contact should have been masked and six feet apart and not sharing anything. Nothing made sense. 

I did not go back for this. I got a doctor's note for none of your business that said I wouldn't be exposed to the virus and at first my district agreed to that. Until, all at once and for no reason they wished to explain, they didn't agree with it (for more detail watch this video). Myself and many other teachers were given a choice- Come in to school against your medical advice or take leave and hope that you've got paid leave saved up. In layman's terms, "Screw you and your doctor and your family." I was lucky and had plenty of leave saved up. So I stopped teaching three quarters of the way through the year last year. Let us not get into the guilt that comes with abandoning your class before the year is out. And let us not talk about the multiple COVID cases that spread through my school and others, causing cohorts to quarantine. Everything was fine and dandy because the kids were back.

My own children did not go back. We kept them home because we did not think it was safe. This was the correct choice for my family. We were lucky to be able to make it, I know many could not. My second grader did all of second grade on the computer and hated every second of it, which is not a reflection on his teacher who was doing her best. He's a social child. He saw that his friends got to go back. He understood us, but he won't really understand for years yet. My kindergartener did all of kinder online, doing his best. He had the best kinder teacher in the world, and she did amazing things with her class online. He wanted to go in. But he did what he could. 

And I struggled. I wasn't teaching. I wasn't sleeping. I would get up with the boys so my wife and the baby could sleep in and I'd help them do school mornings. We'd fill the days somehow. 

During this whole time I was reaching out to anyone who would listen to me in my district to ask to help plan. To be in meetings and on committees. To make things better for teachers and students. I am not a sit around and complain person, I had ideas. And not one person in any leadership position wanted to hear me. You know that person who complains in staff meetings? I've never been that person. Not ever. I'm not. I will get up and try and if it's bad I'll break it when I'm alone in my room and make it work. I will run my mouth to make things better. But no one wanted to hear me. My district was tired of me by the time school let out a year ago. Because why would you want teacher input when planning how teachers will deal with pandemic teaching? And once I left for the year, once I stepped away, I stopped feeling like I had any voice at all.

Now it's summer break once again. The virus is still happening, despite what you might see on social media or out your window. Not everyone is vaccinated who can be, for some reason. The Delta variant doesn't seem to care if you're vaccinated. Though if you are, at least it won't kill you. 

And once again schools are getting ready to open. But this time everyone is getting ready to open full on, like everything is back to normal and safe. And I honestly feel like I'm losing my mind because I do not understand why anyone is acting like this.

Not one child who goes to my school will be vaccinated when my school year starts because the vaccine isn't ready for kids yet. Will we be social distancing? Will masks be mandated? Will class sizes be smaller? All signs point to No. When the vaccine is available for kids, will it be mandatory to come to school? If not, why not? Why should my kids get punished because you don't believe in science? 

What do I do? Do I send my unvaccinated kids and hope? Because here's the other thing- I have a daughter too. A daughter who was born with a heart condition she still has. Her cardiologist has told us, in so many words, that getting COVID would be "very bad". So should I send my boys to school and hope they don't accidentally kill their sister? 

Putting it like that sound overblown and hysterical. Except it's not. It's fact. 

Friends and readers, this is all I can think about. I am burning and consumed with it- Why are we acting like schools should open as normal? Why risk it? 

Because we're all tired of it? I get it. I'm tired of it. I want everything to be back to normal. I want to go to concerts and meet with friends and restaurants and go to the mall and on vacation. Things people are doing. But we're not because we can't take the risk until everyone in our family is vaccinated. 

So maybe it's just us. Maybe we're now in the minority and everyone else feels rightly safe. Maybe...are we being overly-cautious? Wouldn't you rather be overly-cautious? Who am I to judge.

Here's what I know- If you ask me how I am, I am not smart or subtle enough to lie and say I'm fine. If you ask me about next year I am incapable of not going on and on about my questions and concerns and fears and anger.

And I feel like it's costing me friends.

I want to be very clear here- I am 99% sure I am wrong about this feeling. But that does not stop me from feeling it. It's summer break which means I'm already going to feel disconnected from my school friends. I chat with some, but when you're used to lunch every day it's not the same. I always feel disconnected from people over the summer.

I didn't even finish the year, so even when people were back in the building I wasn't. So there's that too. Will my friends judge me for taking leave when they didn't? (No! Of course not, I have good friends.) I mean...probably not, but maybe? 

And most importantly, is everyone I know exhausted by me constantly talking about my concerns about coming back? Am I exhausting? I must be, Jesus how much can one person go on? We get it. I'm not who I was, I know that. I used to be intense, but focused and moving forward and looking for solutions and aggressive but not in a bad way. And now...I'm not. 

Now I feel like every conversation with me is like having a conversation with Chicken Little, when everyone else has begun moving past the fallen sky or just straight denies that the fall was all that bad to begin with. I feel like I'm looking for validation, looking for someone to say, "Yes, exactly, I agree with you." BUT THEN BE ABLE TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. And no one who can do anything about it...does.

I am so angry, friends and readers. All the time. And if you've talked to me and I haven't brought these things up, I just haven't brought them up out loud. Is the sky falling? Is everything actually better and I've just been so consumed with the problems that I haven't noticed an improvement? Does data matter, because my district says it does. But at the same time the entire state has been regularly ignoring numbers and moving benchmarks to get what they want. Is it raining or is someone still pissing down my back?

I can't tell anymore. I have no perspective. I am thankful and lucky that my wife and I are on the same page with this and we haven't once disagreed about what to do with the kids through all of this. Neither of us know what to do next year.

I want so badly to step into my classroom next year, greet my students, and start group projects. I want so badly to see my own children go to third and first grade happy and healthy and excited. I don't think anyone who isn't a teacher understands just how badly I want these things. 

We also need to talk about how this whole thing has impacted our kids. Because they are going to look resilient and we're going to get a million stories about how strong the kids are and how they got right back into it and what were we worried about. Those will all ignore and brush over the trauma these kids have faced and will pretend everything is ok. Because all we want, I guess, is for everything to be status quo. Teachers will be happy to be back. Students will be happy to be back. Shut up and smile. For the kids.

But I'm pretty sure the sky is still falling. And until all three of my kids are vaccinated, I have no choice but to trust that I'm right about that.

If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written three books about teaching- He’s the Weird Teacher, THE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and A Classroom Of One. I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher. And I'm on Instagram at TheWeirdTeacher too where there are a million pictures of the baby being uploaded every day.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Redefining Good Teaching


I feel the need to note off the top here that this is, even more than normal, a very confessional, almost-journal-like post. Which means it's long because I'm trying to write out what I think so I'm able to see it. Which I've always felt you kind of appreciated. So head's up. And thanks for reading. I don't think I'm alone here.

I have two choices at this point in this incredibly broken school year-

1) Admit that I am not a good teacher this year, and allow that to leak into my feeling about myself as a teacher in general, because I think I know what it means for me to be a good teacher.

2) Admit that this year is insane, redefine what being a good teacher means for me, stay sane, and live with that tiny niggling doubt that I'm making excuses.

I've been trying my hardest to get to option two. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've been doing it for longer than I've been teaching this year. I think I started making mental excuses as soon as it dawned on everyone that we would not (and should not) be going back to school this year. That everything education would have to be done through the computer. That classrooms, mine included, would have to look very different. 

A regular reader of this space will know that my class is a place of mess and creativity and cardboard and spontaneity and wheels-within-wheels of goals and foolishness. I am not much of a stand and deliver teacher, though I can lecture with them best of them because I do love the sound of my own voice. I'm not much of a worksheet teacher because I hate trying to grade them and I hate thinking that they are the best way to assess much of anything. I'm also, to be clear and honest, not the best planner. I know where we are going, but if you ask me what I'll be doing in two weeks in math I'll only be able to give the the vaguest of answers. Not because I don't know what I'm doing, but because I move with the kids as much as my school's administration and pacing plan allows me. So my answer would be something along the lines of, "Probably whatever Lesson Six is, unless they really struggle tomorrow and Friday. Then just short of Lesson Six. Probably." 

Now? Man, I need to plan much better because time is shorter. But I'm kinda not because it's even harder to know how well a lesson is going to go.

Everything about how I teach has had to change. Distance teaching is trying me in ways I didn't realize when I first started worrying about it. I knew I wouldn't be able to do projects like I want to do because of the inequality in materials. "You could deliver materials to students," you might say if you were a well-meaning person on Twitter trying to solve someone else's problems before you were asked for help. Yes, I could. I could travel to 28 homes every two weeks with a supply of cardboard, tape, scissors (to replace scissors that had been lost or broken), rulers (see previous), markers and Sharpies (see previous), and whatever else the students might need for the project. If I did that they would probably make a Lifetime movie about me. I mean, they would if I were an early-in-my-career white lady "saving" a bunch of inner city (movie for "Black except for the one white boy and the Mexican girl") students. 

But in the real world that's not feasible. It's not. I could maybe do it once, and I might once. But I can't make a habit out of it because it isn't a sustainable thing. 

So building projects are out. Completely? No. But mostly, because I don't know what kids have at home and I'm not sending anyone to the store.

Ok, but I'm a Good Teacher. And to me that means I'm creative. I pride myself on my ability to think around corners and solve problems I'm confronted with in my class. Don't have enough laptops? I can fix that. Run out of tape? I can fix that. Reading curriculum is dry this week? No problem, easy. No one is getting this math? Google is right there to help me figure out a better way to teach it. Give me problems, yo. I'll solve them. 

But this isn't a problem. 

Distance teaching isn't a problem. I can't think about it like that. We can't think about it like that. Distance teaching is what I do right now. I do not like it but I like any of the alternatives even less. I've seen hybrid learning plans and they do not look better to me. The ones that might be safe are more restrictive than a whale bone corset being swallowed by a python, and the ones that aren't safe (most of them) are as effective as taking our shoes off at the airport and just as fragrant. They are less ideal because the world we live in right now is not safe for groups of any kind. Unless science is wrong, which I have been informed might be the case. In which case it's a good thing I've got a chewy center because I'm a big sucker. 

So distance teaching is Teaching now. Which means my method of delivery has been determined for me. It's not the problem. Teaching can't be the problem, it's the job. The problem is how do I make it engaging? And how do I make it equitable? And how do I assess? And how is that equitable? (I have it on good authority that nothing about right now is equitable. No suggestions to work around that were made, so I guess it is what it is. Which is...you know, not great. Personally, I'd cancel report cards completely and when that failed to please The Powers The Be I'd insist on Pass/Fail only because, like I said, it's impossible to fairly assess anything right now. But that's just me thinking about solutions again. Hashtag PassFailPandemic) 

Do I make class engaging? I am engaging. My kids come to my thrice daily Meets. Many of them chime in. Very few turn off their cameras and go play Among Us as far as I can tell. Not a whole lot I can do about that past what I'm doing. Moving goalpost there- I used to take nearly complete responsibility for student engagement. But now they actually can choose to come or not (in theory) and nearly all of them do come nearly every time. I have puppets and they like the puppets. Puppets are engaging. The kids act like they like the flipped videos I make with the puppets.

I know I'm not getting information across as well as I could be. Maybe. Am I communicating it as well as I could be? I think I am. But I'm not sure. It's hard to tell. Some days I'm not. But that's not always my fault. I have a second grade class and a kindergarten class happening downstairs in my house at the same time as I'm teaching fourth grade. Because of the layout of my house and the volume of my five year old I can hear those classes happen. Which means my students sometimes can too. To be fair, sometimes I can hear classes happening at the dining room table in their homes too when they unmute to answer or ask a question. Total Synchronous Learning- Distracting Or Teaching Us To Focus Better: You Be The Judge.

I don't think it's equitable and I think that is out of my hands. In class it isn't. But like this I can't control how good your internet connection is, how loud your house is, what the situation is inside your house, whether or not a parent can sit with you and help you with things like I would if I were there. And if I dig into this too much I start feeling incredibly impotent as a teacher. All I'm doing is delivering information. 

We all know that Teaching is not what you see in the movies. Sure, part of it is the delivering of information. But most of it is planning and dancing. You plan what you're going to do and why, you deliver it, and then you spend the actual lesson dancing to the rhythm of the kids, responding to verbal and nonverbal cues to clarify, deepen, and modify how that information is being received. Anyone can tell someone something. Teachers dance.

I'm getting better at reading expressions over the computer. When I can see their faces. When they aren't holding up their distractingly adorable bunny to the camera, or rolling around on their carpet, or talking to someone off screen, or looking at another screen off screen, or having their cameras off. "But Doug, that solution is easy!" Ah yes, my helpful friend. Let me guess, you're going to tell me to dictate how a student should behave in their own home while forgetting that a teacher should never make a rule they can't actually enforce? "Uh," you say. "When you put it that way..." Yes, exactly. When I put it that way I would never try to police a student in their own home to the extent that I'm going to insist that they sit in a chair at a table facing forward camera on. No. I do remind students to put the bunny down and please pay attention and I can see you playing a video game I can see the controller in your hand come on, man. We set routines, we built class rules. All that is in place. But what, I'm going to punish them? There's a disciplinary protocol in place? It reminds me of an old Robin Williams routine. "Stop! Or I'll say stop again." 

Am I a good teacher this year? I don't know, man. I really don't. I'm doing everything I can. I'm being as creative as the various levels of stress and anxiety I'm under will allow. I'm also, as I mentioned, teaching from home. So am I doing everything I can? I have three children, two dogs, and only one wife. She is horribly out numbered out in the living room while I'm trying to teach in my office. She was really looking forward to a year where the seven and five year old were at school all day and she would have hours at home to bond with the one year old alone, and get some stuff done around the house that she wanted to do that is frankly impossible to do with the LOUDEST, MOST ENERGETIC HUMANS ON EARTH around 24/7. So between classes sometimes I grade or plan. Sometimes I go downstairs and parent. I don't work at school, which I could have done until the governor put a two week stay at home order back in place, because we are being as safe as possible and because I know I'm needed at home. My ability to be a good teacher and my ability to be a good parent are, for the first time, in serious conflict. But it's not a real conflict, we know what choice wins in that scenario. Doesn't mean there isn't the littlest bit of guilt about it though. I could be teaching better...I don't have to be sitting here holding my sleeping one year old and watching TV. I could get the laptop and work with her on my shoulder. Or I could enjoy holding the last tiny person I'm going to help make without working at the same time.

I'm not sure what the parents of my students want. Or what they expect. I know many of them want their kids back in school. Not in a "get out of my house" kind of way, but in an honest "I think you'll do better at school than at home" way. But their kids won't. Not this year. Social distancing at school, according to the plans I've seen and not to speak for everyone everywhere of course, is awful. It's not school, it's not better. I would rather kids be comfortable and, more importantly safe, at home than trapped at a desk in school, unable to move or work together in a meaningful, in-person way or interact with me in a way that is actually fun and useful. Again, maybe I'm stuck on a stick and wrapped in paper, but I don't think so. I've seen the numbers. I do want parents to know we know they are doing their best. I'm a teacher, my wife is a teacher, and we are frustrated with the process of teaching our own kids. I can't imagine what it's like for parents who don't have our background. I know they love their kids and I know they are trying to make everything in this crazy year work for their families as best as they can.

I do not feel like a good teacher this year. I feel angry and stressed and anxious almost all the time. I feel unheard. I'll be honest, a week ago I made the decision that to remain sane for this year I would reach for apathy when it comes to policy. I decided to try and be apathetic about things. Apathetic, by the way, is the worst thing I can be about something. It's the opposite of the way I'm built. But I thought to myself, "I don't think that Serenity Prayer thing works for me, but maybe I should try just not caring anymore and let someone else get worked up for a while. It's not working. I'm all fury and reason and questions and noise and the result is still nothing. What if I just didn't care?" 

How does trying to be apathetic about the policies being made that impact my students make me a good teacher? How does driving myself crazy trying to have a voice in those policies make me a good teacher?

My kids seem happy to come to class. Even now, weeks in. They laugh, they play, they seem to enjoy me, each other, and at least some of the things we do. I don't know how much they're learning, really. I'm so far off any pacing plan it's not even funny because I indulge students following rabbit trails more than I normally do because some of them don't get to spend time with other people outside of these meetings and they need the contact more than they need to practice cause and effect. 

I hate the "it doesn't matter what they learned, only how they felt" school of teacher PD that is popular right now. Because it does matter what they learned. Like, a lot. Not caring about learning, only feeling, is what got us into the mess(es) we're in now as a country. My job first are foremost is to help them learn and remember things, and learn ways to learn more things, and to learn to use all the things they learned. I want them to enjoy it because that makes it all work so much better and be so much stickier, but learning comes first. That makes me a good teacher.

But maybe not this year. This year I think, and don't tell my boss or her boss, I think I care much less about what they walk away remembering academically and more that they walk away healthy and feeling like the 2020-2021 school year wasn't great, but it didn't suck either. 

I think maybe that will mean I was a good teacher.

If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written three books about teaching- He’s the Weird Teacher, THE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and A Classroom Of One. I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher.

Monday, September 21, 2020

You Gotta Have Faith


Before I start I have to say that I deeply hate that forever connected to the phrase "You gotta have faith" is the band in the above picture. It was their first single and I was the exact right age to hear it over and over and over even though I hated that band. Remember nu-metal? With the two decent bands that came out of the entire genre? If you don't know what band and what song I'm talking about you were not in high school or listening to rawk radio in the mid-to-late 90s. I shall not taint your brain and your ears further. Google it if you must know, but I warned you.*

What does the above rant have to do with education? Nothing. I just needed to explain why I hate that header image, but it's the only header image I could have possibly used considering the title and subject of this post. 

I also would like to note that I will be using a bad language word in this post. Why? Because language exists for a reason and we're all adults here. Because I could beat around the bush and be clever with synonyms, but those don't carry the weight and impact I believe is needed to make my next statement land like it ought to. So if bad language words hurt your ear-eyes make like A Christmas Story and pretend it's another word. 

We all good now? Cool.

Distance teaching is fucking hard, my friends. It's fuuuuucking hard. And even in a few weeks when it gets easier as everything settles into something resembling a groove, it's still gonna be fucking hard. 

Teaching is never easy. Even the quote unquote best class in the world still isn't easy to teach. You could have 30 of the most wonderful "I wish I had 30 of her/him in my class" students and it would not matter. The year would be hard. There is too much going on, too much pressure, too many personalities and loads atop loads that must be carried for a teaching year to ever be easy. It's always hard. But, like Jimmy Dugan says, "The hard is what makes it great." I embrace the difficulty of the job because that challenge is what makes me better.

Distance teaching, though? That's fucking hard. Hardness, as we all know, is a scientific measure that increases exponentially (I think I'm using that word right, but I teach 4th grade math so who knows). There's "hard". And then there's "hard". And then there's "pretty hard". Next is "damn hard". Followed by "pretty damn hard". Then there's "...*whew*...I mean...mmm...this hard, man." And last is "fucking hard." I have heard tell of "pretty fucking hard" and " pretty fucking damn hard" levels, but those only exist in middle school because middle schoolers, through no fault of their own, are broken on a deeply hormonal level. Also also, if you made it through the entire preceding paragraph without giggling once at the repeated use of the word "hard" you are more adult than I will ever be.**

I am exactly one day into distance teaching. The second grader and kindergartener who live in my home are exactly one day into distance learning. Yes, I'm going to use both phrases because teachers are not distance learning. Put your hand down, I know "teachers are always learning" and "the best teachers learn from their students." You can stow the cliche pamphlet. Our job is distance teaching right now. Except for the districts and states actively trying to murder their teachers. They're still teaching teaching. Until an outbreak happens at their school. Then they're climbing into our boat. Make space. Six feet in every direction, please.

Now here is the real kicker, and the thing I cannot get past- 

Really fucking hard is still the best fucking option. 

I do not come to you bearing bad news (which you already know anyway). I come to remind you that we have no other choice. No one does. The parents don't want this. The students don't want this. The teachers don't want this. But we have no choices. It's fucking hard or it's in-person, and that should never have been an option. What are the other choices? Homeschooling. I guess, and not to take away from the parents of our students, but teaching isn't that easy. Remember the above paragraph? One does not simply walk into teaching. The character the writers don't know what to do with suddenly deciding to become a teacher (I'm looking at you Keiko O'Brian) and BAM they're teaching is bullpucky. Horse hockey. Fiddlesticks and other nonsense. I trust my parents, I know they want what is best for their children. And I know that no matter how hard distance teaching will be, those students will be better off with me because this is my job and I'm trained for it and good at it. I'm not specifically trained for this kind of teaching, but I'm more trained than they are. 

We should be working in partnership with our parents. They are the teacher in the room, while we're the teacher in the box. We should be flexible *looks hard at places requiring things that are unfeasible in the long run* and have open lines of communication so we can change things and make everyone has happy as they can be. That doesn't mean we can make them happy. Just as happy as they can be.

No one is going to enjoy this year very much. I know that sounds dire and terrible, but we have to admit that. 

I hate hate hate with the fire of a thousand suns the cliche "teaching is a marathon not a sprint." I go into why in detail here. The short version is that marathons suck. They suck the whole time. They hurt for the entire race. If you're winning you're in pain the whole time because you're pushing your body harder than it believes it can be pushed and you want to die but your will won't let you. If you in the middle or the back you're still running/walking/staggering over 26 miles. Marathons hurt the entire time. Don't call teaching a marathon because then you're saying that teaching sucks and hurts for 180 days. It doesn't. Teaching is a baseball game. Seriously, read the thing

Teaching is a baseball game...normally.

This year? This year teaching is going to be a marathon. It's not going to be very fun.

So how does one survive a marathon? The flip answer is training and suffering. The real answer is Faith.

Not faith in a higher power. Faith in thyself. Faith in thy students. Faith that is might be a fucking hard way, but it's the fucking best option. I have to believe that. I'm clinging to it. I can do this. I can teach my kids well. They will learn. We will make it through the year.

Before I had kids I did triathlons. That's the swim/bike/run thing. Sprints, Olympic distances, and once a half Ironman. That's a 1.2mi swim, 56mi bike, and 13.1mi run. I trained my tail off for that. Was in the best shape of my life. Still hurt the whole time. I loved it, because I'm broken (except for the run, I do not love the run), but man it hurt. I got through on training and faith. I believed. I can take another step. I am strong enough. I do have a water table coming. I will nom on a gummy bear for some sugar. They hurt. You survive through the hurt because you have to.

Right now all of us are having tech problems. I can't log in, why am I muted, what's the website, I forgot my password, what icon did you click on I don't see it, why can't I hear you, who left this comment in Classroom, we have to learn what program now and why? The kids will adapt. They will learn. Every year I spend the beginning of my year walking slowly through all of these issues in person and by October zip zap look at that everyone is doing what they need. This isn't every year. The timeline for everything is expanded this year. I'm hoping November we get there. That's a long time. I have to have faith. I have to be preaching to my students and their parents and instilling that faith in them. We can find the way. We will celebrate the small steps. We will find mind games and tricks to get us through the year as best as we can.

Now I will also grant that it's so very easy to say "have faith". It's so very reductive to bring what this year will be down to "it's a marathon." I agree. Metaphors are never perfect fits, they're meant to illustrate a point, not define it. It's going to take collaboration and self-care and support and a million other things too.

But if we don't have faith that even though distance teaching is fucking hard it's the best fucking option we have open to us, I don't know what we have.

It's what I got. I gotta have faith.

*If you do Google it, it's not the first result. It's Google's "Did you mean?" result. But still, don't google it.

** Honestly, I do not know why I don't get asked to write for major education publications.

If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written three books about teaching- He’s the Weird Teacher, THE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and A Classroom Of One. I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

What's the Plan? (OR The First Week Cometh)


Credit- https://www.etsy.com/listing/471936246/plan-ahead-funny-embroidery

Today was supposed to be the first day of school.

I guess technically the first day of school was supposed to be a few weeks ago. But then the pandemic happened and we had to swap to distance learning. So we were given more time to plan for that. More on that in a minute.

So why wasn't today the first day? That's easy. 

Most of my state is on fire. 

As I type this all the windows in my home are sealed shut and there's a wet towel wedged into the crack at the bottom of the front door to keep smoke out. It still tastes like fireplace in here. My kids haven't been outside in I don't know how many days because the air quality is so bad the air quality measure online is pegged to the right and literally says, this is not a joke, "Off The Meter." Bad does not begin to describe the air quality. Imagine being trapped in a small car with a chain-smoking Keith Richards on a cross-country road trip, and he recently switched to unfiltered.

It's bad here. Others have it worse, people have lost their homes, their places of business, their lives and the lives of those near to them. Ours is not the worst. But ours is still bad. Bad enough that "Are you going to have to evacuate?" has been part of the phone calls I've been making to parents for the last week. "Where are you compared to the Level 1 line? How is everyone's breathing?" 

In other words, in the middle of a global emergency, one of the main symptoms of which is trouble breathing, major fires are making it hard to breathe. Luckily for all of us the United States government does not care at all and has no interest in making anything better. Sometimes trees just explode. Shoulda raked better.

Because the fires are so bad, causing families of students and teachers to be displaced, schools have been enlisted as emergency shelters and the various scheduled material hand-outs have been postponed. So put down your hand, Karen. Just because we are teaching from home, and we're all trapped at home now by fire and COVID-19, does not mean teaching can happen. Parents haven't had a chance to pick up computers, iPads, books, supplies, and whatnot. Teachers who were planning on teaching from their classrooms, which is an option here, now can't because social distancing has been increased to "STAY INSIDE WHY ARE YOU EVEN DRIVING WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU YOU CAN CHEW THE AIR RIGHT NOW." 

Or, in teacher parlance, an inequitable situation has now been made even more inequitable. This, though, isn't the fault of the system. Well, it's the fault of this part of the system. But that part did all the inequities on purpose. Because white supremacy*. 

All of this is a long lead in to say that the first day of school, normally a fairly stressful day even in a normal year, is incredibly stressful right now. I am starting my fifteenth or sixteenth year of teaching (yes, I should know and I could count, but does it really matter?) so I've done the first year a few times. I've felt confident and good at it for a while. I'm established enough at my school that, and I say this without ego, students coming up to my class know me and are excited to join me. They think they know what they're getting into even. They don't really, but that's ok. 

All that to say- What the hell am I going to do for the first day of school this year? Ignore the first week, just Day One.

Here's the problem, my friends- Schedules have changed and changed and changed again over the last three weeks of planning, meetings, trainings, and questions. So many questions. We're supposed to be teaching synchronously three or four times a day. For those of you not in the know, that means all 30-some-odd of my students are supposed to go to their school-issued Chromebook at 8:30am, long-in, and join me and everyone else in a Google Meet. We will Do School for a while, then they'll log off the meeting to work independently while I Do Other School. Then at 10:30 they'll all log back in and we'll Do More School. That happens for a while then they log out of the meeting and small groups happen, independent learning happens, whatever. Then there is one more block of time where everyone gathers in a Meet to Do School. Then they do more independent work.

I did not make this schedule. I suspect none of my peers (or my union or any parents of students) were in the room or consulted when this schedule was finalized. That's a different conversation for another time. 

The fact of the matter moving forward right now is on Monday at 8:30am we're supposed to have The First Day. We've been told not to try to teach content for a few weeks, but just social emotional learning lessons and tech procedures (something I'll get into in a minute). So what to do, what to do?

I'm going to be completely honest with all of you- I'm not going to follow the prescribed schedule on the first day. Or the second. I'm not. I don't think it's the best way to start the school year, I don't think it'll set the tone I want for my class, so I'm not going to do it.

Here's how the year normally starts in my class. (I should note that this has worked in third, fourth, and fifth grade. So if you teach tiny ones and you're shaking your head I get it, it might not work for you. I think it could, but I've never taught that size child.)

- My desks are in groups of four or five. There are probably six groups like this around the room.

- There is no seating chart. I greet every child at the door, shake their hand (ain't doing that anymore, foot taps all the way now), and tell them to find a seat. They ask where they're supposed to sit. Or a parent does. I say, "At a desk, please. Pick one, make a good choice." The kid is excited. The parent is not (some of the time). This has a purpose- My class is built on trust. This is the first act of trust. I will not control your body even in this. The very first act you do in this class will be your own. It might be a poor choice. That's ok. We're learning here. 

- Once everyone is in we immediately move to the Spaghetti and Marshmallow Tower Challenge. Every group is given ten strands of raw spaghetti and ten tiny marshmallows. They are told that together, as a team, they must make a free-standing tower. I don't tell them it's a contest to make the tallest one. They do assume that though. The second act they undertake in our class is collaborative work they' excited about. They talk. They plan. They test and try and fail and rebuild and laugh and start to bond. Our class is built on planning and communication and testing and trying and failing and rebuilding.

- We play the Name Game. The Name Game goes like this- You must choose an adjective that starts with the same letter as your first name and that describes you. Mine would be "Dashing Doug." Yes, I tell them my first name, why wouldn't I? They know to call me Mr. Robertson. Now here is the fun part- We go around the room and the first person says their name. Dashing Doug. The second person says the first person's name and then their name. Dashing Doug. Amazing Amanda. The third person says the first person's name, the second person's name, and their name. Dashing Doug. Amazing Amanda. Cool Chris. And so on. It is a joy to watch the feat in front of them dawn across their faces. Especially the kids at the final group of desks. I will, of course help. But the goal is you must listen to every single person in the room. You must hear their names, the way they pronounce them, over and over and over. You must say it right. After the last person goes I go. Because now I know everyone's name and face and it has only been an hour. Then I open it up. There's always a kid in the first group who wants to run the table. I challenge them, do it backwards. By the time The Name Game is over no one has any excuse for calling a classmate "Him over there in the red shirt" or mispronouncing a name. 

There is more to the first day, of course. But that's the start. See how much is set up in those few activities? They are foundational to our room. I will bring those things back over and over through the course of the year. Everything sends a message.

How in the green hell am I supposed to do this through Google Meets?

I don't know.

So here's my plan, and here's why I'm going to immediately not follow the prescribed schedule and shhh, don't tell my boss. 

I have been telling my parents in calls and emails that there will be six Google Meets over Monday and Tuesday, three each day. I've told them the times. And I've told them their student must come to one of the six. But only one is required. They can come to as many as they want. I'd love it if they came to all six, because then they will for sure meet everyone in their class this year. I'm calling it the Trickle In Start until I can come up with a better name that I can slap an acronym on and write a book about. This way coming to class basically starts as a choice. Who will decide to come more than once? Will the kids who come more than once encourage their peers to come more than once? Which parents will force their kids to come every time? What tech issues are hiding that I can fix with ten kids instead of 30? 

I want to know. Because I don't know how this is going to work.

What will we do during this time? Probably some variation of the Name Game, but it won't be as fun because the kids will have their names displayed. It will probably changed over the six Meets, which might provide motivation to keep coming. 

I'll introduce myself and display a Google Tourbuilder I have that talks about my journey from my hometown of Palmdale, CA to here in Gresham, OR. We will talk about how their summer's were. I'll bite my tongue in half as students talk about visiting with friends and traveling and how some of their parents were for sure not being the kind of safe and responsible we all hope everyone is being. I might let other kids ask about that though. Respectfully. We're not going to get into rules too deeply, I hate starting with rules. Welcome to class, here's how you need to be controlled. Bleh. Bad messaging. We'll probably play a Kahoot.

On the first day everyone is supposed to be in a Meet, the we'll build the rules. Maybe with a Padlet. My normal rule procedure is I make the kids list every single tiny little rule they can think of and I write them all down. I fill over writing space with their rules. Then I tell them we all have to memorize everything that has been written so we know. They don't like that. So we start searching for overlaps and possible combinations. We look for positive statements instead of negative ones. It all boils down to Be Responsible, Be Respectful, Be Safe, Make Good Choices. And then, because it amuses me to quote Pulp Fiction in my class, I tell them that there is one overarching rule to remember, that even if they can't remember those four rules they can certainly remember one- Be Cool.**

I think I'm going to do this online by ignoring the district-created curriculum around setting online learning procedures. They did this last year for four months. They know. Let's make a Padlet of all the procedures and rules a class needs to be effective in distance learning. Now let's simplify simplify simplify until it's clearly understood and easy to remember and, most importantly, created by the class, not by me and not by some person in the district office that didn't think to call me when she was making these rules up in the first place. 

So that's my plan for starting the school year from home during a pandemic while wild fires smolder in our backyards. 

Oh! Real quick, because I promised. You can totally teach procedures, social emotional learning, and content at the same time. That's literally the message of STEAM. If you can take silos away from Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math you can take them away from "This is how we log into our online classroom" and "This is what we're going to be learning about" and "How are you feeling?" I promise you can. I do that every year too. Messages are stickier when they are wrapped in useful context.

I want to also state that all of these plans for online learning might burn down, fall over, and sink into the swamp. Always a possibility. In which case I'll build another castle. 

How is your year starting? 

*If you're reading this and you got to that part and rolled your eyes with a "Ugh, Doug. Must you make this political?" Yes. I must. Call it what it is, confront it, and fix it. Education destroys ignorance. And if you think white supremacy doesn't exist I'd really appreciate it if you never support anything I do or create ever. Kthxbye.

** Yes, I know that's Pulp Fiction quoting Happy Days, but in my head I see Jules telling Ringo to tell Honey Bunny to be cool.

If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written three books about teaching- He’s the Weird Teacher, THE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and A Classroom Of One. I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher.

Monday, September 7, 2020

I Never Metacognition I Didn't Like


It's pretty On Brand™ for me to quote underrated musical genius "Weird Al" Yankovic, but I'm going to do it anyway. This is not an exact quote but more along the lines of what he said. I heard it on one podcast or another and it struck me as true and useful so I saved it in my little mental file cabinet is Useful Quotes To Remember. And, because it's me, of course it's not just a pithy saying but an entire short anecdote so that the pithy saying at the end has context and is actually sticky and useful. Here's the story he told, as best as I can remember it-

Being a creative person can be hard sometimes especially when you have kids. I was sitting on the couch one day while I was working on this album and my child came up to me and asked me to come play with her. And I said I couldn't because I was working, and she gave me the strangest look. I realized it was because all I was doing was staring into space. But that's a lot of what creative work looks like It looks like spacing out.

If I were to insult your intelligence by summarizing what you just read for you into an easily shareable, hopefully viral meme format, it would be "Sometimes creating looks like spacing out." But I won't do that because both Al and I have more faith in your than that. 

This is on hundred percent my process. Or at least part of my process. I either sit and stare at nothing while talking to myself or I move all over while scribbling useless and illegible notes on scraps of paper while talking to myself. And sometimes my process for creativity is sitting down at my computer with no ideas and forcing myself to type until something worth exploring comes out. I call all of these "mining for ideas." One of my favorite metaphors for creating is thinking, and I know this isn't technically true but that's why it's a metaphor and not a fact, that no one delivers the block of marble to the sculptor. You, as the creator, have go to the quarry and mine the marble for yourself, you have to drag it back to your shop, and you have to beat it into a giant rectangular prism. And that's all before you can start actually working on turning it into whatever it's going to be. Now all the mining and hauling can be the homework you have to do, or the brainstorming, or the prep work. It's the gathering of mental materials. Then you can actually start going at the block of marble with your chisel. And even then that's just the rough draft. Once you release the Thing from the marble it's still not done. You go at the marble with finer and finer chisels and files and rags until you have removed the last piece of excess marble. Then you're done. 

Often the going to the quarry to mine looks like sitting on the couch (or chair or whatever) staring into space. The mental gathering of energies.

From there the next thing I think about is teaching. I do a lot of spacing out after school. That's how I lesson plan. That's how projects come to me. If you work with me (and the world isn't ending like it currently is) and you come into my classroom after the kids are gone chances are high you'll be met with me scowling at nothing while something that sounds like death metal to you* blasts out of my computer. That's what working looks like.

Unless I'm actively teaching. Then it happens very quickly because you can't space out for too long in front of 30 fourth graders. Trust me on that. I have learned to trust my instincts and listen when the little cricket that lives in my pocket goes, "WAITAMINUTE! Wait...One...Second..." My students learn it quickly. I stop talking, freeze, point up at nothing, look into the middle distance, smile slightly, and then 'Ok, no...wait...ok...put away your books- NO DON'T you'll need them. Push your books to the side. Ok!" Then we do a thing. That's spacing out at warp speed.

Which brings us all the way around to the most important part of teaching- The money and drugs Students!  

If I know that creating for me looks like spacing out for who knows how long, and I'm constantly asking my kids to think creatively and push their boundaries, how can I expect thinking to look any different? So often we, and I include myself in this of course, know what "think time" means but we forget that time moves at different speeds in different places in the classroom. 

It is so tricky to know when a kid is spacing out (ie "I wonder what I'll do on Minecraft after school...") versus thinking (ie "So if this math problem works like this, then this next one..."). They look the same on the outside, but they look different on every person.  Like I said, my Resting Think Face is a scowl, probably because I'm annoyed at stupid brain come on get it together let's go. But it could just as easily be a more slack-jawed, wide-eyed look. Or have a half-lidded sleepy vibe. Or it could look like Work. Like if you asked an amateur actor to play Thinking, the face they would make. Kinda constipated, but not to a panicked level yet. Constipated but making progress.** Those kids you see and think "Ah, she's working." But she might be in Minecraft too! We don't know.

A theme of this school year is going to be Patience and Grace, but think time should always be filled with Patience and Grace and that's hard because we have places to go and things to cover. We all know 30 kids don't learn at the same rate but we do our best to make it happen because that's the system we work in and it's not perfect but it's the best we've come up with so far. What does your thinking face look like? What does your spaced out face look like? How can someone around you tell if you're mentally solving complex equations or thinking, "You know, I don't care what anyone says- I really like vanilla ice cream." 

I have to remind myself of this all the time. Not just when I'm blasting "Weird Al". Because I forget. But I have gotten pretty good at it. Unless it's early in the year and I don't know the kids yet. Then I have no idea what thinking looks like to them. This, by the way, is a conversation I have with my students (minus the constipation thing, but I make the face and they get it anyway because some humor is universal). I tell them I am trying to figure out what their work style is.

BUT I'M IN CLASS WITH THEM FOR THAT! What am I going to do this year? What does thinking look like online? How do I teach cognition skills from my office when they're in their homes? How can I learn to look at a kid on Meets and know what or if they're thinking. Or did their screen freeze? Or is that really their thinking face and it looks like a frozen screen?

Patience and Grace as teachers relearn instincts we've honed over years of work. Patience and Grace with ourselves because we are going to miss so many cues we would have caught in class. It's going to be so much harder to find the kids that had a tough morning or a bad lunch or have something really exciting to share but they're too polite to chime in with it and besides they don't know how much to trust me because humans aren't really built to make close connections through a screen. 

What does your thinking look like? Maybe we could ask our students if they know what their thinking looks like? I do that during my conversation and the kids all strike funny poses. Then we do it again and I ask them to try and be a little more serious the second time and they do because they got to play once. 

I'll have to think on it...

*It probably won't be death metal, I don't like much straight death metal. It might be melodic death metal, or maybe black metal, or maybe blackened trash, or perhaps experimental jazz black metal, or maybe Taylor Swift or "Weird Al". 

** no idea why I'm not paid to write for bigger education publications

If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written three books about teaching- He’s the Weird TeacherTHE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and A Classroom Of One. I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Mental Health Math


Welcome to the hardest year of every teacher's career. I think we can all agree on that. The most fun thing about that statement is, for many of us, the year hasn't even started yet. For the rest of us it's still as fresh as a Prince of Bel Aire. And yet, if you asked 100 random teachers what the hardest year of their teaching career was, 98% of them would say the 2020-2021 school year. Two percent would kick you in the shin and walk away in a huff.

I, of course, can only speak for myself. I have found, through this blog and through my books, that my experiences are often more universal that I give them credit for. So while I don't pretend to know for certain how everyone is feeling and coping, I can tell you how I'm feeling and coping (read: pretending to cope) in hopes that you find some common ground and at least feel less alone. Teaching is a solitary pursuit, no matter how good your grade level team, your staff, your extended community on social media, we're all in this alone. Just us and the kids. I would bet that's how most of us prefer it most of the time. Sometimes, though...sometimes all that does it make it hard to tell if we've gone right round the bend or not. When there ain't nobody in here but us chickens how do you know when you clucking eggs are scrambled?

So how am I feeling? And, by the commutative property laid out in the previous paragraph, how might you be feeling?

I am of two minds. Two minds that are actually three. Picture, if you will, a circle. Hold that image in your head. It could be a square or a rectangle if you must be that kid. Draw a line down the diameter of the circle, perfectly bisecting it. (You square/rectangle people- just cut it in half.) You now have two halves. Hopefully I'm not leaving anyone behind yet. Now, perpendicular to that line, draw another line, breaking one of the halves in half. You should have one full half, and two quarter sections. 

Let's start with the full half section. I want you to label that section the title of this post. Yes, I see you writing "The Title Of This Post." You're very funny, everyone laughed. You know what I meant. Call it "Free Fallin'" please. And let's shade it in blue. You know, like the sky that we're falling through. 

I feel overwhelmingly like I'm free falling. My district has a strong leader at the top, and many strong links in the chain of command from the top all the way down to the school level. Nearly every link is strong, competent, and capable. That is not enough for this year. This year, even with a great team at the top, excellent coaches, and principals who are doing their level best, things are not coming together like they should be. I know we are not alone in this. I do not know why every district feels the need to make the same mistakes as their cousin districts. I feel like most of us could be watching the districts that opened first while taking copious notes and asking many questions in detailed emails, then taking that information back home and not falling into some of those same pits. I also do not know why some districts have not involved teachers in the planning process from the beginning. I want to be clear again here that I like my district very much and I respect much of our leadership and I know this is an impossible position they have been put in by Cheeto Hitler and Dolores Umbridge (Hey, what's the difference between Betsy DeVos and Dolores Umbridge? At least Umbridge wasn't scared to walk into a school. And Umbridge was written to be an awful human, Betsy comes by it on her own.)

But because there hasn't been much teacher feedback and input into the process a lot of the information we're now getting feels incomplete or unfeasible. Much of it doesn't seem like it will survive that first week with students. Now, I am not a person who expects something new to work the first time. Or even the first few times. But I am the guy who will be standing in the front, along with my fellow teachers, when the fecal matter strikes the ventilator. And I'm not looking forward to clean up on aisle 14 for however long that takes. 

I think things could have been done better. What things is a different post and requires a much deeper level of specificity than I'm willing to get into right now. I also acknowledge that "I could help do things better" is an amazingly egotistical thing to say and I do not in any way know what would make things easier for middle or high school. Those worlds are mysteries to me. But I would bet that there are teachers at those levels who feel like I do and with our powers combined we could create Captain FigureItOut. 

Without all of that I'm in freefall. Freefall without a chute that I packed myself. Someone packed it. I saw bits and pieces of how it was packed. It's not how I would have packed it. Now I'm falling and starting to think about grasping for that ripcord and I don't know what's going to happen when I pull it.

Which leads me to the first of the two quarter sections of our circle. Let's keep getting negative so we can end on a positive note. Color this section red, please. Name it "WTF Am I Gonna Do?"

This part of my brain is overwhelmed with What Am I Gonna Do? I keep stumbling over my pre-planning because everything I do, my entire classroom environment, is built on being in the room with the kids. Giving them access to the materials and time they need to learn how I believe they will learn best. Allowing myself to drift free on the winds of whim and inspiration. Surfing atop piles of cardboard as we take the boring story in the Journey's book and turn it into a week-long build that allows for deeper learning than we would have gotten otherwise. Starting the year with spaghetti and marshmallow towers that immediately sets the tone for how groups will work collaboratively and how every activity will be tied to deeper and more complex educational ideas than they can even glimpse on that first day, but I know what's coming and how the project will echo all year. 

I can't do that from home. Some well meaning person on twitter suggested I make regular packets of materials to send home to kids so I'm not burdening the parents to buy things or have things and that's great. Completely unrealistic, but great. Because yes, if they were in my room I'd be buying these supplies. I'd be supplying them (see what I did there?). But I'm not paying bi-weekly postage for thirty-something kids. I can't. Cheeto Hitler has stolen all the mailboxes anyway. 

So what am I gonna do, man? How on Earth can I pivot my class to completely online and do anything like what I normally do? Be anything like the teacher I am? Build relationships, establish bonds and trust, read the body language that kids speak fluently (but each one speaks differently, and it takes time to learn to translate). How, man? I'm panicked. I'm freaking out about a lot right now. And let's not even bring up that my parent brain is also freaking out about my second grader and my kindergartner going through the same thing downstairs with my wife while I'm upstairs doing it with my class. Let's pretend that that hooey about "leave your personal life at the door" is a real thing people can do. Even though for distance learning the door is my house. So the metaphor falls apart immediately. 

Let's look at that last quarter of the circle. Yes, or square or rectangle, I didn't forget about you I was just ignoring you. What do we label this possible saving section? The only part of my teaching brain that is keeping me from full blown DEFCON One hiding under my desk and rocking back and forth. Let's call it "I Thrive Under Pressure."

I've never encountered a year like this. None of us has. Anyone who says they know what they're doing is lying. *Looks back a few paragraphs when I say I could help solve this* I said "help solve", not "I know exactly what to do." Anyone telling you they know how to teach and build relationships and weather this distance learning storm, anyone who says that with full confidence while looking you in the eye, is a liar and should never be trusted to petsit a goldfish. They don't know.

What I do know, though, is that I'm a good dancer. 

In my head that's how I think of what we do when we encounter a bunch of unknown problems. When the classroom is going to hell and nothing is working. We dance. I dance. I search for any beat, any flow, and I try to follow it. I stay light on my feet, I listen for the changes and watch my (thirty-something) partners for clues to when they want to lead. This year I'm gonna have to be Ginger Rogers. Yes, Ginger. Look up what Fred Astaire said about what she was doing when they danced together. This is a quote you should know. 

I can, too. I'm good under pressure. When the room is going bad and the coffee isn't working and the air conditioner is broken and it's the week it rains randomly right before recess every single day and I forgot my lunch at home and the kids have had enough, I know how to teach. I can find a way. That's all I've got right now. 


I've got faith that I know what I'm doing. I know I don't, not this year. But I know I can figure it out because I have to. I know it'll be bad. I know it won't go right all the time. I know I'm gonna be banging my head against my desk and I'm going to be working myself silly to be sure my parents don't hate me and hate what their kids are being asked to do and to be sure my kids don't hate this kind of school. I don't know how yet. I have glimmers. Sparks. Embers. I haven't chased them yet because they're still formless. I'm in freefall too. Nothing on the classroom level can be planning with any detail yet because I'd be best laying plans like a mice or a man. Man plans, unpredictable wifi laughs. 

But I'm pretty sure there are some rabbits in my hat. (There was one of two places I could pull an idea out of and I went with that one. You're welcome.) I don't know where the rabbits are, what they look like, or how fast they'll run off. But every year I doubt my ability to teach and every year I can.

I was telling my therapist that I have anxiety in a lot of situations. I wrote about this too, not long ago. I have helpless anxiety nearly everywhere except in my classroom. I do not get anxious in class. Ever. I'm clinging to that right now, my friends and readers. Holding tightly to it. Because I am anxious. I'm not sleeping. I'm snappy. I'm stressed. I'm way more negative about way more things than I'd like to be. And I know the why for all of that. I bet we're all feeling it. Yours might be manifesting differently than mine, but I bet it's there. 

So I'm going to cling to the rock of Faith in Myself in the middle of these rapids. I'm going to get dunked and half drowned and rolled and bruised. But all I've got right now is that rock. 

I hope you have a rock. If you don't you can borrow mine. We can do this. It's gonna be rough. It's just starting. But we're good teachers. So we can feel our feelings, but inside hold that rock tight. It's only a quarter of my brain, but it's all I've got working for me right now.

If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written three books about teaching- He’s the Weird Teacher, THE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and A Classroom Of One. I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020