Hello my Slicer Friends. I hope you are well and safe and finding ways to get through these days.
I have been thinking about all that has stopped, all that is different, all that is lost.
But really, there are so many things to be grateful for at the moment. Here is my list:
-I am grateful that I feel well and healthy, grateful that I was able to exercise this morning and prepare myself a delicious and nutritious breakfast with food in my house.
-I am grateful that all my loved ones are feeling healthy and well.
-I am grateful for a comfortable home with enough food, drinks, and yes, toilet paper.
-I am grateful for my cup of coffee this morning.
-I am grateful for electricity, hot showers, running water and technology.
-I am grateful for online communities like #TWT and #SOL to feel connected.
-I am grateful that I am still getting paid and am not experiencing financial distress
-I am grateful that I have books to read.
-I am grateful that spring is upon us and we can get outside
-I am grateful for slower mornings
-I am grateful for my third grade friends and colleagues who make collaborating stress-free as we come up with a plan for our students.
While I am not at all grateful for Covid-19 and the pain it is causing the world, I can choose my mindset in all this. Feeling the gratitude helps me to remember all that I have right now and puts me in a better state of mind.
What are you grateful for today?
Every day, I select an affirmation card from a beautiful deck of colorful cards. I purchased these through Beachbody and they go with the Barre Blend workout program. I write the affirmation down in a journal and try to live up to it during the day. I try to reframe my thoughts to match the affirmation when I am feeling...less.
So far,, I haven't felt very successful in this home quarantine.
My eating has been off. I can't get projects accomplished like I thought I would. My kids are on devices way more than they should be.
So, today, I aim to make small changes that will lead me to feel more successful.
First virtual faculty meeting in a few minutes, so need to go put on makeup!
How are you doing with this new way of life?
One of my favorite aspects of the Long Island Writing Project is the shared reading that starts most workshops and institutes. It works like this: One educator in the group has the turn for the day to read something aloud. The person selects the reading. It can be an excerpt from a novel, a picture book, a poem, an article- anything. When the reading ends, we all pick up our pens or go on our device and write for 3-5 minutes or so. Time is called, and participants share their piece, a part, or even a line. I love this practice and it builds community around shared stories.
We need this now.
One of my hats is co-director of the Long Island Writing Project. The director, Darshna Katwala, and co-director, Heidi Atlas and I decided to give shared reading/writing a digital spin in these days of Covid-19. We set up a Flipgrid, with the idea that educators could sign up to read something aloud via video. Anyone who wants to participate can write and then read their response as a comment to the original video.
(Thanks to Lauren Kaufman, who inspired this idea back in November at #nErDcampLI. We never imagined a global pandemic would be the impetus for us to give it a go, but here we are.)
My makeup wasn't perfect or even well done. My hair was not great. I was in sweats. The video wasn't perfect, but in the name of literacy and connection, I made the first video. You are welcome to join us in this endeavor and share with any colleagues. If you are a Writing Project teacher, this might really call to you and I invite you to share this with your local site.
Connection is so needed.
Here is the link: https://flipgrid.com/0458220c
Some more information here: https://www.smore.com/fpjxh
On the last day I saw my students, the weather was raining, gray, gusty. and matched my mood.
A birthday weekend for my daughter was approaching with tons to do to make it happen. Yet all the news was the Corona Virus getting worse and closings were likely. Would the parties go on?
I was thinking of all the report cards I still had to get done sometime between now and the following week.
I was thinking of an argument I had at home that morning, an upsetting start to my day.
I was snappish with my students.
I was less understanding at times.
I felt on edge.
I felt unsure of what would be.
I didn't think we would be closed for weeks, maybe more.
I didn't think that might be my last day in the classroom with them for quite some time, possibly ever.
If I had known we were saying goodbye for an extended period, I would have spent more time sowing seeds of love and hope, of encouraging them to keep learning, to keep connected.
I wish I could do it over.
"Don't it always seem to go-
That you don't know what you got till it's gone..."
I miss my drive to work, listening to friends over Voxer or a podcast.
I miss getting dressed in professional clothes.
I miss all the steps I get in each day from moving around so much.
I miss my students.
I miss my colleagues.
I miss my own children enjoying their teacher, classmates, and school.
I miss my mom coming over in the morning to watch the kids.
I miss the grocery stores having toilet paper and milk.
I miss taking my kids to their after school activities.
I miss watching my son's sporting events.
I miss the freedom to get a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts
I miss eating out in restaurants.
I miss family get togethers.
I miss normal life.
It's only been one day home from work and I already realize that I've taken so much for granted about my life as a teacher. I know I need to see the blessings, the silver linings, but tonight I am feeling the sadness and the loss of everything that was until now.
March 1 feels like so long ago.
I was consumed in placing new slicers with Welcome Wagon volunteers, finishing up the preparations for the PARP committee I was co-leading, and planning my daughter's 7th birthday parties. I knew report cards were approaching too. March is always a fast-paced, super-packed month where I feel like I am running a marathon.
Suddenly, everything has come to a grinding halt.
With PARP mostly over, my daughter's 7th birthday celebrated, report cards still remain....but suddenly I have a lot of time to finish them. School is closed here for 2 weeks, with many suspecting it will be longer. All our activities have stopped- no sports, no clubs, no religion, no ice skating lessons, no parties. Long days of being home stretch ahead.
The marathon is over and I am left feeling breathless anyway.
I don't know what to expect. I don't know who will get sick. I am scared for all of us. I am sad not to see my students. I am relieved to not be surrounded by germs. I am glad for the time with my children but sad they will miss their regular life, their teachers, their friends, their activities.
I guess we take this one day at a time and do our part to stop the spread of this frightening illness.
Seven years ago today I said goodbye to my baby, my just over two year old son, who would be a big brother hours later.
Seven years ago, I ate a cheeseburger and fries at the diner with my husband on the way to the hospital.
Seven years ago, I took medication to induce my labor since my baby girl didn't want to budge.
Seven years ago, I was about to meet my daughter.
Seven years later, she follows me everywhere.
Seven years later, she is blonde with straight, fine hair- not at all what I pictured (imagined dark curls like me!)
Seven years later, she writes books almost every day and has a pen name.
Seven years later, she adores reading books and being read to.
Seven years later, she is resilient and gets right back up after falling down.
Seven years later, she has a vocabulary that grows more sophisticated each day.
Seven years later, she is my manicure and pedicure buddy.
Seven years later, she is creative, cuddly, smart, stubborn, and all I ever hoped for in a daughter.
Happy 7th Birthday to Megan!
We interrupt your daily Covid-19 anxiety attack to bring to you a Parisian Poodle Party....
My daughter, Megan, turns 7 on Sunday. This year, she opted for a small party at home with a few friends on Saturday and then a family party on Sunday, also at our house. Megan has had some....interesting birthday themes. When she turned 5, she was obsessed with Gizmo from Gremlins. Her birthday cake had a big Gizmo on it. It was frightful. Last year, Megan was obsessed with her Christmas Elf, Smiling Max. Her 6 year old birthday theme was Christmas elves (in March!) which was kind of awkward, really. (Her birthday dressed looked like a Christmas dress and her cake had elves on it to the other kindergarteners' confusion....)
When she chose a French poodle theme for this year, I was delighted! So much prettier than Gizmo and elves. The possibilities are numerous with this type of party. We will do Eiffel Tower painting, a game to get your own Beanie Boo poodle and French party props and pictures.
We've had a few cancellations (thanks Covid-19) but I am keeping my fingers crossed that most of the girls come to the Parisian Poodle Party tomorrow.
We now return to your regularly scheduled Covid-19 anxiety.
"We are living in historic times," one of my fellow teachers said to me yesterday. "You should write about it."
I wanted this month's slices to be dedicated to the idea of teaching and the stories that live inside a school. When March 1 arrived, I did not think March 13 we would be in this place of a global pandemic. I did not imagine so many schools would be closing, although mine currently remains open.
I cannot focus. I keep looking at my phone for news and it gets worse every time. I am not typically an anxious person yet I feel very anxious now.
It feels like regular, real life has stopped. I have report cards to finish and assessments to grade to be able to work on the report cards, but I feel paralyzed My daughter's birthday is Sunday and she has a friends' party and a family party this weekend. I am wondering if people will cancel. They are small gatherings in our home but I know everyone is feeling panicked. I did not grocery shop for emergencies and now I am worried the stores are empty. I never thought in the United States of America I would need to worry about food supply.
In a meeting yesterday, we were told social media has made more of this than it is. That it's really just like the precautions we would take for the flu. But I don't believe that. You look at China and Italy and you see how this virus is far more deadly and very contagious. Containment seems key.
Everything is on hold. Everything is either cancelled, postponed or suspended. Sports, activities, parties, camping trips- everything we had planned is now paused for an indefinite amount of time.
I am concerned that people who should be tested are not getting tested. I am concerned that there is a lack of tests. I am worried that we don't have a true sense of who is infected. I am worried someone I love will get sick. I am anxious there won't be enough hospital beds or personnel to care for the sick. I am worried about the students who will need to stay home and not have the connections they need each day in school. I am worried about the inconsistency that all of this brings to learning, which is now secondary to survival.
It feels like life and death in a way I only ever experienced on 9/11, but this is very different.
We are living in historic times. I am writing about it.
Hiding in the corner of my classroom, after the words "LOCKDOWN-LOCKDOWN-LOCKDOWN", my students look to me. The unannounced drill is most likely a drill, but there is a little piece of me, petrified, that worries what if it isn't? 26 third graders look to me to keep them safe, to reassure them that all is well. I smile and pray that this is just another practice.
And, for now, it's all been practice.
Now, another threat- the Corona Virus. I need to reassure all my students that they are safe and all is well, but inside, I am worried. I see what has happened in China and Italy and I worry about all of us. Will we be okay? What if someone in my family gets sick? What if I get sick? What if we all get sick?
Tonight I needed to go to CVS. The parking lot felt eerily empty. Passing a stranger on the sidewalk, her face like stone, I was immediately brought back to 9/11 and the way everyone looked just shell-shocked. The way no one knew anything but something beyond thinkable had occurred. We were all unsure of what was previously so normal and routine.
Teachers have to be calm and reassuring when everything is falling apart around us. When students are crouched in a corner and we don't know if there is a person with a gun outside our door, we smile and motion for them to be quiet because that's the only prayer any of us have for survival. When a virus that we don't really understand threatens to sicken our communities, we smile and remind them to wash their hand and cover their mouths.
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski