At the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, the COVID-19 pandemic had been in full force for a year and a half. Vaccine rates were up and both new cases and death rates were down. And everyone was tired of closures and social distancing and, you know, the effects of an international plague. People wanted to “get back to normal.”
My school, and many others, opened up fully in-person. But as cases started increasing again, teachers, parents, administrators, and pretty much everyone started noticing that something else wasn’t “normal.” Students didn’t enter their new courses with the same level of academic knowledge and skill that previous cohorts had. Their behavior was different. And their attitudes were different as well.
The phrase “learning loss” had been trickling through educational discourse all through the previous school year, particularly with regard to the disparity between students from wealthier families, who were more likely to have better access to resources for effective remote instruction and better support, and students from poorer families, who were less likely to have access to those same resources. Educational achievement has always correlated closely with wealth (or the lack of it), and think tanks and pundits were warning that the pandemic was likely to widen that gap.
I’m not anybody all that important. I’m just one public school teacher. One among about three and a half million. I don’t get to be the person who makes the big decisions; I’m the one who gets them handed to me. And, unfortunately, I’ve kind of gotten used to the decision-making folks not listening to me. I dunno; maybe that’s why I’m as opinionated as I am.
I know that the decision-making folks are really, really busy, and they’ve got a lot of people who want to be listened to.
By the time I release this on my channel, we’ll be a few weeks into the 2021 school year. As I’m sitting here writing this script, it’s Day 7. I have 32 students enrolled in my English II class. It’s during the block when we have lunch, so I’m with these students from 11:25 until 1:40. In less than a week, I knew all their names.
Part of that is because of a new activity I incorporated this year – the Five-Day Feedback Form, AKA “name tents” – which I’m going to do a video about later on.
On Monday and Tuesday, I had thirty students present. Yesterday it was sixteen.
Since I’m writing and filming this just before the school year starts, I’m including my Amazon wishlist at the end of the post. I teach at a school in rural Georgia, so these are things that aren’t so essential that I’m going to get them myself, but that I think would be nice bonuses: multicolored pens and markers, skin-tone crayons and colored pencils, and cooperative games. So, absolutely not essential, but if you do feel like helping out, I would be super grateful!
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Summer Olympics were pushed back a year. They started on July 23, and will continue until August 8.
The Olympic Games are completely unique. No other event captures the level of prestige and splendor it carries. And while the events are competitions, the sportsmanship and even cooperation shown by the athletes embodies the “spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play” described in the Olympic Charter.
This blog post is an adaptation of a video I created, available here.
Back in February of 2021, the news broke that the Department of Education announced it would NOT be setting aside the “accountability requirements” as required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
This shot my blood pressure through the roof, so let’s take a step back and breathe for a moment. No, I’m not abandoning this topic. It’s just a moment. And, be honest. Chances are pretty good that you need this moment as much as I do. (And I really need a moment.)
So. Quit slouching. Move your spine. Remember the cervical and sacral areas, too. Shoulders play an important part. Hold yourself more open. Straighten. Release. Empower.
Remember that what we do matters. And that is not just a statement of responsibility, but of opportunity.
Breathe in slowly. Deeply, but without creating tightness. Pause. Release, just as evenly.