Day 31 or Day 16 #SOL20

It’s day 31 of the 2020 Slice of Life challenge but it’s day 16 for me as I joined the challenge half way through this year. I am thankful to Two Writing Teachers for opening up the challenge midway through the month as a way to help many of us process how the world had changed in just two weeks. I’m grateful to have these 16 blog posts that have chronicaled this historic time.

I read a post earlier today by Book Dragon that was a play on a spine poem.¬† My fellow slicer encouraged me to give it a try in the reply to my comment on the post so here’s the story my titles tell:

A Slice of Morning Meeting

An Afternoon of Decompressing

Stay at Home Order

Schools Closed Indefinitely

Revelation

There Will Be Good

The encouragement from other writers throughout this challenge is what keeps many of us writing for 31 days or in my case 16. Thank you to the Slice of Life community for you words of support and encouragement. There were many stories to tell this year. I hope to join you on Tuesdays.

slice-of-life_individual web (1)

Two Writing Teachers

Schools Closed Indefinitely #SOL20 Day 30

Well, it happened this afternoon. Our governor announced schools are closed indefinitely. We were getting notices in two week increments but this afternoon we received word of schools being closed indefinitely in my state. This may turn out to be a good thing as with things constantly changing the message from our school district kept changing too. We teachers are planners by nature and the ever changing requirements and expectations have made us a little crazy.  Maybe now we can have some consistency.

My desk and computer are covered with Post-It notes listing my Zoom meetings and training sessions. I can’t keep them straight. I started using a composition notebook to try and keep my planning and meetings organized but I haven’t been a pencil and paper planner for years now. I’ve used an online planbook since the 2012 school year and I miss it.

Screen Shot 2020-03-30 at 5.14.28 PMI decided to go to my digital planbook to get myself organized but I just couldn’t bring myself to edit my beautifully laid out planbook for the 2019-2020 school year. My schedule is laid out with a beautiful rainbow pattern listing each part of my day with the time. My reading workshop¬† blocks lists my four reading groups in a beautiful template so I only have to fill in the book we’re reading each week. I couldn’t face changing it. I’m still hopeful I’ll actually need my planbook again when I’m back in my classroom.

I made a new digital planbook today. It starts on March 29, 2020 and goes until June 12, 2020. I named it Remote Learning 2020. I am hoping I won’t need it until June but I think a part of me is starting to face the reality. The thought of not being in my classroom again with my students is heartbreaking. Zoom sessions are not the same. Those hugs I got on March 6th before they left for spring break cannot be duplicated in a Zoom session. The hard part though is that I see on their faces what I feel in my heart. We just aren’t talking about it yet.

 

slice-of-life_individual

Two Writing Teachers

Stay at Home Order #SOL20 Day 29

I escaped the house this morning at 7:30 a.m. to go to the grocery store. The rainy day yesterday had me feeling trapped. We couldn’t get out for our daily walk with the dog and by evening our governor had issued a stay at home order for our county. The news only increased my feelings of isolation.

I felt like I was violating the law as I drove the winding road into town this morning. I was expecting to get pulled over and asked where I was going. Grocery shopping is allowed but it still felt strange to be driving somewhere this morning.

I got up early to grocery shop in hopes of finding more things on the shelves and fewer people in the store. While the store wasn’t packed, there were more people than I expected for the first morning of the stay at home order. Fortunately, I found everything I needed, even toilet paper.

The world has changed drastically in the past two weeks. To grocery shop this morning I gathered my hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and rubber gloves. Before I left I set up my wipe down space in the garage. I now teach from a bedroom in my house where I spend most of my day in front of a computer. We only leave the house to walk the dog or gather supplies so we can continue to work and teach from home. It’s not looking like things are going to change anytime soon. I’m hoping I don’t have to repeat the grocery store ordeal for two weeks. Maybe by then things will be a little more normal.

slice-of-life_individual web (1)

Two Writing Teachers

 

 

I’m not a Writer #SOL20 Day 27

I’m not a writer. I have been saying this for years. If you asked me to describe myself I would not say I am a writer. I would say I am a wife, mom (and now mother-in-law), teacher, knitter, baker and cookie decorator but not a writer. I am a teacher of writing, a blogger and the author of many cheesy personal narrative stories that entertain, and hopefully instruct my students, but I’m not a writer.

IMG_3559 (1)I came across this collection of writing today as I was searching for some plastic page protectors to house all of my important remote learning papers. The oldest of these items is my writer’s notebook from my very first graduate class that I took early in my career in 1992. It was a writing class for teachers of writing that my school district strongly encouraged us to take. Since I needed hours for my 5 year recertification I dove in with another teacher in my building. I wrote personal narratives, article response papers, a book review and the first chapter of a mystery piece but I didn’t feel like a writer after this course.

Some other items were my teaching journals that I kept when I was working as a graduate assistant while working on my master’s degree. I was teaching language and learning education classes to preservice elementary teachers. My teaching journals were part of my teacher research that resulted in my final paper for my degree. My paper was accepted after I completed the revision of one small section but I still didn’t feel like a writer.

Finally, I also found my Slice of Life journal that I used in my classroom two years ago. I was focusing on writing for my differentiated supervision project during that school year and with the help of my awesome instructional coach (you can find her slicing over at On a Thought) we taught my 2nd graders how to slice. It was an amazing experience as was slicing myself everyday during the #SOL18 challenge. Sadly, I have been sporadic with blogging since the 2018 challenge. I find other things take priority over writing. I think if I was a writer I would make sure there was time for it. I appreciate that the Two Writing Teachers opened up the challenge half way through this year. Maybe it will help me to finally become a writer.

slice-of-life_individual web (1)

Two Writing Teachers

Revelation #SOL20 Day 25

“You sound different.”

“What do you mean I sound different?” I said as I descended from my office classroom. I had just finished doing my daily Morning Meeting over Zoom with my 2nd graders and it was time for a late morning snack so I ventured to the kitchen.

“When you’re teaching, you sound different. Your tone of voice, it’s different. You’re just . . . different.”

It seemed like my husband thought a stranger had emerged from our upstairs office but then I realized he’s never really seen me at work. He’s never really seen what I do day in and day out when I’m with my kids. He sees all the preparations. The hours of making plans, creating materials, reading children’s literature and this year pouring over my Units of Study in Phonics as I learn yet another new teaching resource, but he’s never really seen me carry out all those plans.

I’m an introvert by nature but elementary teachers, especially in the primary grades, need to have the qualities of an extrovert. So, every day as my kids stream into my classroom I transform into Teacher Beth. Teacher Beth loves to get silly at Morning Meeting, do read alouds and get kids excited about books, use my mascot Gus to help me teach phonics, get over the top excited when someone shares a math strategy, or embellish a personal narrative to help make a teaching point.

“My job is a little like acting, you know, putting on a performance.” I explained. “I have to act different when I’m in front of a group of kids.”

“I guess I never really thought about it.” he said.

“As an introvert I really do need to become someone different in my classroom. It takes a lot of energy for me to do that.” I shared.

“That explains why you’re exhausted when you get home.” he concluded.

“Exactly!” I replied.

There’s so much we’re learning through this strange experience of social distancing and quarantine. I’m sure we’re all seeing a side of those we live with we’re not used to seeing. I hope my husband likes Teacher Beth, I’m not sure I can tell yet. Maybe once he gets over the shock I’ll know.

slice-of-life_individual web (1)

Two Writing Teachers

#pandemicbirthday #SOL20 Day 24

“Is it over yet?” I asked my husband as I woke up this morning. I have asked the same question many mornings since this started but this morning was a little different because I woke up a year older this morning.

Hopefully celebrating a birthday during a pandemic is a once in a life time thing. I decided to take the opportunity to preserve my special day in photos.

My husband decided since we were stuck at home we would do things a little differently this year. I opened gifts throughout the day rather than after a family birthday dinner. So after my Zoom Morning Meeting it was time to start unwrapping.

IMG_3552

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2020-03-24 at 11.16.49 AMNext came some Zoom fun with colleagues.

#who’speelingtheapples?

 

 

IMG_3544

 

 

 

 

The daily walk in the sunshine was part of the plan.

 

 

 

We practiced some social distancing with the in-laws too.

IMG_3547

And finished the day doing a Google Hangout with all the kids, IMG_3550

We made the best during this strange time. We focused on the important things family, fun and getting out in the sunshine. It will be a birthday to remember. #pandemicbirthday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

slice-of-life_individual web (1)

Two Writing Teachers

 

Morning Meeting Zoom #SOL20 Day 23

I had my first Morning Meeting over Zoom today. It was so great to see all my kids. We shared about our pets and the things we’re thankful for but we also shared what we are sad about. I think everyone said they were sad about not being at school with their friends. I can’t wait for the day we gather in a circle on the carpet in Room 181. Maybe, just maybe our carpet will team with laughter and high fives again.

It was great to reconnect with almost all my students today. Only a few didn’t join us. We’re Zooming again tomorrow and I’m hoping they will all be there. We learned this afternoon that our state has closed schools through April 6th. I am so hoping I get to go back to my classroom on April 7th and ready it for my students to arrive on April 9th. While other states have completely closed schools for the rest of the year, I appreciate that my state is taking it two weeks at a time. Maybe, just maybe we will gather together again before this school year ends.

After our meeting I spent my day in front of my computer learning more about how to provide remote learning. I’m really hoping I won’t need to put all this knowledge to use but I am learning a lot. I’m sure you are too whether you’re a teacher, a parent, a grandparent or a caregiver supporting a child through remote learning, we’re all learning a lot. I think we’re learning to appreciate the time we spend with others face to face. Maybe when this is all over we won’t see so many people glued to devices anymore. Maybe this experience will leave us craving human interaction. Maybe, just maybe we will talk to each other again.

slice-of-life_individual web (1)

Two Writing Teachers

There Will Be Good #SOL20 Day 22

On our daily walk with the dog today my husband and I were surprised by the number of people we passed out in their yards or walking our neighborhood loop.

“It’s like when we were kids,” he said. I nodded in agreement.

“Everyone’s at home, nobody has sports to go to or activities keeping them busy,” he added.

We’ve lived in this neighborhood for almost 5 years now and I have never seen as many people out and about as we did today. I also realized I don’t know many of them. I know most of the people on my own street but I realized when you no longer have your own kids running around the neighborhood, you don’t meet those who live around the corner or on another street. I guess now is not the time to meet them. For now we’ll just continue to smile and wave from a distance.

Although we’ve only been at this social distancing for a week now we’ve talked about what might change because of this. A few questions my husband had tonight as we cleaned up after dinner were:

Will employers see that people can work from home and be productive?

Will more people start homeschooling?

Will families be less busy with outside activities?

Like the aftermath of 9/11, I believe there will be good that comes out of this. I don’t know what it is right now, but I’m looking forward to seeing it. The reports of less pollution are encouraging. I’ve heard the waters of Venice, Italy have become clearer and dolphins have even been spotted in the water. I would love to see that as my memory of Venice is murky water and the smell of exhaust from the vaporettos.

As difficult as this time is, there has been good that has come out of it. I’m walking more and getting more sleep. I’m writing more regularly and I even have managed to establish a little bit of a routine on the weekdays. Tomorrow is the start of remote learning for my students. I’m having my first Morning Meeting using Zoom tomorrow morning. I’ve received several messages from students and parents telling me they miss me and they’re looking forward to our meeting tomorrow. One parent expressed her appreciation for all my school has done to get ready for remote learning. If nothing else, I believe we will all have a greater appreciation for each other and being able to gather together. I’m looking forward to seeing the good.

slice-of-life_individual web (1)

Two Writing Teachers

Teacher Mugs #SOL20 Day 21

How many do you have? The count at my house is 8 but there are more in my classroom. I pared down my collection when I moved to a new house 5 years ago. Teacher mugs are the butt of many jokes but honestly they are precious. They often spark memories of the child who presented them to us with a toothless grin and holiday cheer. They sit in our cabinets mostly unused because, let’s admit it, we coffee drinkers have our favorite mug. IMG_3495This one is with me most every morning unless it’s dirty because I usually don’t let it go in the dishwasher. It’s not a teacher mug.

My collection of teacher mugs comes out at my weekly gathering of friends from church. The mugs generate some jokes from time to time but mostly they just spark memories for me as I spot them on the counter. They stand at attention shouting, “Pick me, pick me!”

IMG_3494This teacher mug brings me comfort right now. It was given to me by one of my students this year. She sees the good in everything and when my go to mug is dirty I bring this one out of the cabinet. She doesn’t have to shout at me she knows she usually has a good chance of being picked.

As the years go by I start to forget about the precious giver of some of the mugs. Sadly, the memories of the mugs that don’t get picked often fade. They sit unused in the back of the cabinet, the giver has moved on and new mugs have moved in. I’m feeling a little guilty now about the mugs that didn’t make the move with me 5 years ago but just like we have to make room in our hearts for new students each year we also have to make room in our cabinets for the new mugs. So how many do you have in your cabinet?

Let’s have some fun, if you can, leave a photo of one of your favorite teacher mugs in the comments. If you can’t, post a photo of one of your favorite teacher mugs to social media and tag your teacher friends. Ask them to post their favorite teacher mug using the tag #teachermugsareprecious Let’s See the Good in teacher mugs!

slice-of-life_individual web (1)

Two Writing Teachers