display | more...

It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine! - REM

When they had us practice the assorted emergency drills for the Worst Case Scenario a public school teacher could reasonably fear and prepare for-- earthquakes, fires, school shootings-- they didn't cover global pandemics.

March of 2020, my district went on lockdown. The last few months of the 2019-2020 school year were spent at home, with everyone and their grandmother all struggling to learn how to use zoom and all the old, anti-tech teachers rapidly realizing that they'd have to bite the bullet and use Google Classroom. There was one or two cases of people being blazingly dumb about the ordeal (like the art teacher who insisted her students come to the school to turn in their art projects, despite the fact that our county was a Covid hotspot), but mostly our staff seemed happy that the district was being forced to take the issue seriously (thanks Newsom).

I was fucking thrilled. Like, holy shit, this was better than Christmas, because Christmas break only lasts two weeks.

In that time, I:
- Tore apart the hall closet, sanded off 30 years worth of fugly paint, repainted and finished it to look nice.
- Painted the entire house.
- Learned how to quilt.
- Had the trees outside finally trimmed
- had the house treated for termites

--among other more general home care things. All while "teaching" via disorganized distance learning. I say "teaching" loosely; the kids didn't care, I barely cared, and the district certainly didn't care. All students were given a grading floor that their grade could not go below. If a kid started Distance Learning with a C, then their grade could not go below a C. Immediately, all my A and B kids fuckin' bailed, as did most of the C kids. All the F and D kids likewise bailed, because those were the kids who already didn't care to begin with, even though this would have been the perfect time for them to try and claw their way up to passing. I found myself posting daily assignments to an audience of less than half my students, and I was perfectly fine with it. The people who had worked hard to pass were guaranteed to pass, the few kids remaining could only improve their scores, and I had less things to grade.

The last day of real-life class, when the email went out that this would be the last day of school for a couple weeks (they had been optimistic), my 6th period students had started chanting "Corona Vacation! Corona Vacation!" and I had been right there with them.

But a few weeks turned into a month, and another, and then school ended and turned to summer vacation-- all while still under the miasma of Covid.

School started again, this time utilizing distance learning from the start. No more half-assed, low-stakes, assignment spewing this time; we are required to have actual lessons via Zoom, with an organized distance-learning syllabus and to give the students actual grades. Of course we are encouraged to be forgiving-- especially with our student population-- but we also should set and keep standards.

I will admit, I was really nervous about this. Aside from generally feeling rusty, I had heard horror stories about Zoom-bombing which made me really hesitant. But now we're into week six, and all of my students are fabulous. It turns out that when classes are very, very, very easy to ignore (just don't login), the only kids who show up are the ones who want to learn, and those kids don't cause problems. It also helps that no classroom = no classroom misbehavior.

I thought perhaps this was universal, but just the other day I was chatting with some colleagues after our weekly PLC meeting, and they had horror stories about being constantly zoombombed, or how only a small fraction of their classes were doing work. So maybe I am just #blessed.

Meanwhile, home improvement is still marching on. We finally redid our 30 year old roof (no more leaks, hopefully!), we got new faux-hardwood floors (WATERPROOF!!), which meant we had to get a new living room set, and a new TV, and a roomba-- we were basically being the dirty little American consumerists that we are. But the house looks great, and I haven't been this happy about my living situation in years.

Lockdown hit everyone a little differently. My sister has taken to crafting detailed little bows and bandanas for the dogs she grooms, to the delight of her customers. My ma had taken to gardening before being called back into work. My brother is into league of League of Legends, and our brother-in-spirit has been buying a shitton of Magic the Gathering cards. I know, because his mail is delivered to our house, and every day there's multiple envelopes of cards he got off the internet. As for myself, aside from my rekindled addiction to minecraft, I've been buying a shitton of books signed by authors I like. Like, some of it involves spending a ridiculous amount of money on collector's edition books signed by authors with special artwork and shit (Subterranean Press and Grim Oak Press will be the death of me), and some of it's just going online, researching signatures by certain authors, then finding ones on Abebooks or Ebay.

So yeah, I guess my family's reaction to the impending downfall of the USA is spending money on things that make us happy and distract us from the political and environmental turmoil that surrounds us. Panem et Circenses.

I've been taking a lot of sleeping aids lately. Melatonin. Tylenol PM. Muscle relaxants. NyQuil. I've been getting killer headaches lately that I am hoping are due to my glasses (I haven't had a new pair in a few years). If it's not because of the glasses, then it may be the screens I'm looking at all day, or the smoke that's been in the air for the past few weeks.