Archive | August, 2021

Looping

31 Aug

The email came in the early afternoon on Thursday:

With the opening of the new middles school that would drain off many of our students, I’d been wondering which of my former students I would get to teach again this year. I checked Synergy right away. Nothing.

A follow-up email came:

I had to be patient. It was hard. At 3:30, I took Richard to the park to calm myself down. It was after 4 when we returned and I logged in. Up popped my classes and I scrolled through. I won’t deny it, I was excited and audibly reacted to seeing some of the faces. There were a few faces that made me chuckle in a different way. Those were students who might not be that excited about having me again. I am looking forward to working with them again – even if they think I was a little hard on them.

Schedules were released to students at the same time. A few hours later, I received this message from a student who had been at outdoor school with me in March 2020, when the whole world turned upside down:

I am excited to be back.

The people in the neighborhood

17 Aug

With the return of better weather in the Spring, I started seeing more neighbors as I walked Richard around my neighborhood. Wet, wintery weather and Civid had kept a lot of people home, but now people are out and about, maskless in the open air.

But there have been changes. A white-haired man who walked daily with his wife now walks alone.A neighbor’s husband and two small dogs hav been replaced by a different man and a large dog. Their next door neighbors suddenly have a six month old baby. I want to ask about these changes, but good manners keep me from doing so. I send positive thoughts instead and wonder other changes have happened in the homes I pass.

A neighbor two blocks over is a school counselor. Over the course of my 15 years in the neighborhood, I saw the birth of her third son, her return to school, her first job as a school counselor. On my walks, she and I would compare how each of our schools and school districts were dealing with the pandemic.

I ran into her again yesterday. I had just passed her house when she came out, glasses on, armed with pen and paper.

“I’m finally reporting that car,” she said as she walked towards a white car parked in front of the house of the woman with the new man and dog. “It’s been there over a year.”

“I thought I was the only one who reported cars,” I laughed. “I am glad to know I am in good company.”

I had only noticed this car a few months ago, but I understood her frustration

“Be sure to let them know the front driver’s side tire is flat,” I told her. “They like those details.”

“The tags have expired, too,” she added.

We chatted a bit about the number of cars with expired tags we see on a regular basis before rolling into talk about the imminent return to school. We are both ready to get back to in person teaching, both comfortable teaching fully masked. We’ll be sure that we and our students are responsible about following COVID protocols, just like we make sure people are responsible about following neighborhood parking protocols.

Transitional thinking

3 Aug

Teachers know that August is the Sunday of Summer. At least, it is for those of us who start teaching after Labor Day. For me, it means that my brain starts having school thoughts.

I’ve already checked my classes to see if the new ones have been populated. They haven’t. With a new middle school opening, I’ve been wondering who I will get to teach again. I can still see last year’s students, and since I am moving up with my 6th graders, I printed off my class lists and checked out their enrollment for 7th grade. I wish I had the previous year’s class lists, since I will also be teaching 8th grade ELA.

In 7th grade, we read Julius Caesar and Hamlet. In 8th we read Macbeth. I’ve borrowed various DVDs of each from the library to refresh my memory. I read Julius Caesar in grade 10 but still remembered some of the lines I had to memorize in Mr Cull’s class. There were whole parts I’d forgotten, too. I read Macbeth in grade 12 or 13 – I can’t quite remember – and I saw the opera version a few years ago. My first exposure to Hamlet came from Gilligan’s Island.

Last week, I bought an orange notebook and a green notebook, the exact sort and colors I’ve purchased every year since I moved back to middle school. In the past, I used the orange one for morning classes and the green for afternoon, but I’m thinking one will be for 7th and the other for 8th grade ELA. A lot will depend on the schedule I receive later this month.

I have an eye appointment next week. I might even get new glasses for the first time in four years.

I’ve been thinking about checking out some curriculum guides from the school library. It will be a year of learning for me as well as for the students, most of whom have not set foot in our building since March 2020. It would be nice to take a look at what I am supposed to teach. I’m not sure when the library will be staffed, though.

I need to unpack all the boxes I packed in June. August always means carpet cleaning and it can be a complicated dance to coordinate the custodial staff’s need to get the building ready for September with my need to unpack and organize and my need to suck the marrow out of the last days of summer holidays.

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