Weekend Coffee Share,  Not a Number.

My regular coffee buddy!

Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share,  hosted by Natalie the Traveler.  After some stretching of tired, sore legs, I did some work related things on the computer this morning with the dog by my feet, matcha tea in hand. Work is weighing on my mind. Not only is our state planning to do state testing,  but they are asking teachers to come up with all sorts of extra ideas to make up for losses through the pandemic.

I feel I have made progress with learning to know my students and to make them feel understood. I also teach English Language Arts, a subject in which texts can have multiple interpretations.

I feel a little stressed, maybe the students do as well. All that matters is that they do their best. Most of what I write in these last weeks is short bursts of emotion. I’ve penned my thoughts for students during this era, and I’d like to share.

Dear student,

You are more than a test score. You are a moving ecosystem full of brain networks and emotions,  and yes, personality. While preparing for a test and doing your best can reflect your brain ability and even what kind of person you are, those few answers you got wrong on the last test do not devalue all of your efforts and hard work. Nor do they hold you back from doing better next time.

You are much more than a test score. You are your determination and fortitude that got you this far through a pandemic,  some of you going through quarantine or illness of family members. You are your force of will that got you through the hard times, your personal and spiritual growth (even when nothing makes sense) that moves you to do the right thing and treat others decently and try your hardest, even at things that only pay off in the future and not now.

You are your strength that helps you to never give up and keep on trying even when it seems impossible.  That is the most anyone can ask of you.

Signed,

A Tired Teacher in the COVID era

***It’s Saturday, and I promise to do nothing else work-related today. Now I’m heading out for a long overdue pedicure.

#WeekendCoffeeShare. Of Literacy and Creating Community

Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, and top o’ the mornin’ to you! I just had my matcha green tea, since yesterday was coffee day. Pull up a chair and grab your favorite beverage. My fluffy canine companion might even make an appearance!

I feel hopeful this morning. The sun is out, and it looks like Spring! We do get those starts and stops with Spring in Jacksonville, Florida. I also slept well last night! I socially distanced by eating at home, intended to watch some Netflix after making a review quiz for my classes and speaking to my boyfriend, but fell asleep before turning on the TV. I didn’t miss much, and I sure need more sleep lately!

A quiet night was a welcome balance after a busy, boisterous week as a middle school English teacher. My observation was this week, there was also a full moon this week, yada, yada, yada. I survived. Did you know this past week was Literacy week? Well, we had a little fun, and it makes working during a pandemic much more bearable.

My coworkers are the best!

I found out late about Literacy week, so I spread the word to my grade and subject co-workers to wear animal print or animal themed clothing on Friday, stating that we’re “Wild about Books, Reading, etc.” I made a little 3D book for some of my grade level cohorts to wear. It was fun telling the kids why we did this and getting a smile or chuckle, especially from the ones who also love reading! One of my new coworkers who has been stressed lately even said that it made work feel a little better today, and I’m so glad! We are creating a community, with each other and with our students.

I know there are some I’m not reaching yet, but I have whole classes that are kind communities. Was it my doing? I hope that it partly was. I’ll definitely give the kids some credit. I’m starting the Newspaper Club this week and so excited! I even bought a newsprint mask from Etsy! I know, I’m such a dork, but let’s make dorkhood cool…Why not?

So, at least I’ll be using my writing talents in some way: to inspire others. Maybe to also create community. It’s all a work in progress.

Interestingly, I forgot to mention the negatives, only that my week was busy. I forgot my moments of anxiety; they rolled right off my back. I feel like I can overcome anything!

Take care my friends, be safe, and have a great week!

#WeekendCoffeeShare, Giving Your All

Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Allison at Eclectic Ali. I had a good week at work despite some of the classes becoming a little more excitable. I’ve really been trying to smile at them when I see them outside of class in the hall and to greet them cheerfully when they come in to class. It’s important in these times.

We now have our first COVID case at my school and some are quarantined. One high school in town is closed and doing online teaching; my friend who works there said there are 47 cases. *Anxious sigh*

I do not like the pressure coming down from the district and the state as if this is all about standards (*strictly my opinion, not my empoyer’s). My area of interest is Social Emotional Learning, because I was very unmotivated in high school and did not excel or try for Honors classes until the Senior year, because my son had learning problems due to emotional issues, and because no child will meet the standards if their teacher has not shown that they are accepted while still setting gentle, yet firm boundaries.

I know, yada, yada, yada. 🙂 It’s becoming clear I like to throw myself into things. I am still reading self-help books about healing and anxiety as well as the brain’s role in pain and healing. All summer, I had thrown myself into the healing process with my shoulder injury and physical therapy. This fall, I’ve thrown myself into being the best teacher I believe I can be, not necessarily what everyone else expects. Meaning, it takes me how long it takes me to grade essays. I don’t want to rush and then give them another writing assignment. Still, I am almost done, and this week I was developing project options for my Gifted and Advanced students. I designed my own rubrics and came up with ideas for different projects appealing to different modalities. Some of them seem pretty interested to get started.

I got my vote in early this year, but Tuesday, I joined in with the teacher next door in her efforts to get students excited and to stress the importance of voting. I shared my enthusiasm in a post you can read here: https://pamelascanepa.wordpress.com/2020/11/04/what-its-like-to-vote-2020/

Empty desks will be filled with bright minds….

I am doing well with my nerves, but my focus is sometimes a challenge. Maybe it is a part of changes that come with my age or maybe I once again have to put the past in its place. I don’t know. I just apologize to my students and say I had a “brain freeze” and move on. They don’t make fun of me. There is a feeling that my students and I get along even when I sometimes have to crack down on class behavior or noise, so it seems we’re on the way to building a pleasant little community this year, and that makes me ecstatic! (Do I sound like a hippy)? I love to focus on ways to challenge them. My goal is to make a difference in their lives, like those who made a difference in my life in my healing journey for my shoulder this summer. Not just for the shoulder, but my peace of mind and my trust of medical practitioners. (Hospitals have been a source of high anxiety for me for years).

So while I still spent two nights this week just exercising or relaxing and not grading, while I had them do work Friday but did not grade it, I still think I’m giving my all. There are ways to do this and still maintain balance, I do believe.

Writing is moving slowly for me with my next book, but Malachi, Ruse Master has been fully edited for audiobook and is now in the approval process. Woohoo! My favorite local indie book store closed, the one that carried my books. 😦 So I got them out and they’re at home. I have a few friends who are going to get a copy. There is another store in town I have to check with, though they may require a book signing. I still have COVID fear. Ugh, my social life has suffered. But I will see some friends tonight!

Yes, some long time teacher friends and I are getting together tonight, just the girls. Only two of us are still at the same school, so it will be great to get together! I may be having tea later with a church friend, and this morning I’ve got the ‘got to do’ things: this blog, a little grading, exercise. I am compelled to do these things. Two thirds of them keep me healthy! 🙂

So, social life, beloved writing hobby, work requirements, work goals, healthy habits–all are present….getting close to balancing them! Much love and hugs to the blogging/writing community and peace to any newbies stopping by. Have a great week!