I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Day 48 - "Get to"

Thursday, April 30, 2020

You HAVE TO do certain things...
You WANT TO do certain things...

What did you GET TO do today?

I got to... 

  • go for a walk
  • see the flooding of the Salt Creek
  • see three egrets, a big blue heron, purple martins, barn swallows, a red-winged blackbird
  • show gratitude
  • see my Peace Lily come back to life
  • go grocery shopping for us and my parents
  • meet with my team
  • see the sun come out this afternoon
  • visit my parents
  • surprise my parents with strawberries
  • make a tree face
  • make lots of cards for Senior graduates
  • listen to an audio book
  • make plans to visit a state park this weekend
  • talk with friends
  • make a video for one of my students
  • enjoy jokes sent by mom
  • create questions so I can host May's #geniushour chat
  • count the cars on A.H. Road (my five minute fix)
  • have Hawaiian rolls with Land O' Lakes butter
  • wash dishes with my husband
  • have great laughs with my sister regarding the "contactless" birthday party she's hosting for her kids and husband Monday


Scenes from today:

  • My plant is alive again! (We re-potted it last night. It was soooo droopy!)
  • They don't have graduation cards at Meier. They still have Easter and St. Patrick's Day cards.
  • The blue heron seen on our walk...
  • The first discarded mask I've seen.


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Day 47 - Under 60%

I now provide lessons on Wednesdays and Fridays in this seventh week of quarantine.

For the last two Fridays, the days where we have three choices for our article of the week and no comprehension questions, I've gotten proof of 90% and 85% student participation.

For the last two Wednesdays, the days I think are the most intriguing lessons, the days with the video attached of me and Mrs. Field and Mr. Stott talking to students, I've gotten proof of 54% and 57% student participation.

Last Wednesday and this Wednesday and future Wednesdays will be focused on Genius Hour / Passion Projects / Independent Inquiry. THIS is where my passion lies. THIS is where I think the students will benefit the most. THIS is where we (students and teachers alike) will be challenged, have to adapt, and will feel failures and successes. I am having a difficult time seeing less than 60% engagement. I'll check today, tomorrow, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday into next week to see who shared somehow that they thought of the work of brainstorming for their project today. I'll keep looking and keep providing feedback on their document.

It's not that I want them to want to do the work - it used to be that way, I suppose. I have tried to make the work relevant to what they'll need in the future, and I've tried to share with them our reasons for the work... I used to get more engagement than I'm getting now, obviously. What I realized today is that I want them to want to be in our class.

And maybe they do.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Day 46 - Kick in the Pants

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

I had a rhythm going today.

I woke up early, got ready early, was ready for our staff meeting, went out on the front porch rocking chair for the meeting (and was able to see the dew disappear, and two threads of silk from a spider), heard the goldfinches, made a couple more cards for the seniors.......

It's this - this new project - that was my kick in the pants. We're in week seven of this quarantine. It's time for me to get my act together. I was all ready to go the first two weeks, and then motivation ran dry quickly. All the changes in how we were supposed to teach really boggled my mind and hit my body something fierce.

Then we began talking about genius hour. My coworkers were on board, and we were excited about it. I created my heartbreak map, and I brainstormed what I could do for others, what I could do for myself,  what I would like to learn, what I would like to improve, and what I would do "if I had the time." I figured out my project. And I've already begun. I'm making cards for each Senior I had in ELA class or in homeroom.

I got to counting and cutting the paper. Folding. Deciding on the design. Getting started with five prototypes. Copying the "2020" for the front on the window pane...

I did a whole bunch yesterday, finalizing my idea. I felt like I had a purpose again. To really put me over the edge, a former student (now a Senior), sent me a graduation invite (only happening virtually) and a personal letter. I wanted to cry, and then I wanted to smile. I smiled and read it aloud to Bob. I called my mom and read it to her. I now feel like I have more of a purpose.

Today I did more of the non-thinking work (cutting, folding, tracing).
I am excited about my project.
I'm excited about it because it's what really fits me.

Brainstorming for Genius Hour is the toughest part for many children. It's always been tough for me, too. I have more to learn about brainstorming. I seem to pick projects that don't last two weeks. Not this time. This feels right. Although it will take some time, I can do it.

Of course I'll be documenting the process on my blog for my projects...

Day 45 - SEL

Monday, April 28, 2020

Mondays are reserved for SEL (social-emotional learning) these days. This is our second week of it, and I'm taking advantage of it today.

What I did for myself today:

  • Went on a walk after "team time" (virtual meeting)
  • Practiced a TikTok dance (part of a weekly challenge)
  • Played games on my phone
  • Read a chapter
  • Listened to part of an audio book
  • Brainstormed questions for the next #geniushour chat (I'm hosting in May)
  • Chatted on the phone with Mom and a friend
  • Studied the tulips coming in our front yard
  • Cleaned up a bit
  • Picked dandelions with Hubby
  • Planned a teeny bit for the week
  • Tried to curl my hair
  • Didn't write on this blog

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Days 43 & 44 - Creating

Saturday and Sunday, April 25 & 26, 2020

Since my perspective has been altered and I'm constantly thinking of our healthcare workers who can NOT see their families, I've felt that this blog is so... unimportant. If you're reading this blog, you've seen the change from teacher-related posts to COVID-19 posts. I have to remind myself often that this is simply documentation of what this one privileged person is going through during these past six weeks...

I actually had fun this weekend.

First, on Friday (sure, we can consider that part of this weekend), a friend and I shared our "weekly challenges." She asked me last week if I'd like to try, and I was game - because she said we'd have to agree on it in order to do it. I agreed to three "minute-to-win-it" games, and my challenge was a photography challenge.

Since I'm not posting the videos of our "minute-to-win-it" challenges, I thought I'd post my photography challenge. We had to find ten different colors on walks, and then put them together.
From left to right: a hanger found in a parking lot, coral-colored tulips, a fire hydrant, a fox (in someone's lawn - my favorite photo), forsythias, dandelions, a tulip leaf, grass, water shut-off cap, and then three different flowers.

Friday we shared, and then we came up with two new challenges for this next week. My friend and her daughter challenged us to learn a dance, and I challenged us to make a face for a tree. What's beautiful about these challenges is that we have no idea how they'll turn out, and it's okay. We don't need to know! I'm a competitive person normally, but in the last six weeks, I've been able to let that go. I'm so glad - it's much more fun when it's not competitive!

I've also been trying to create watercolor flowers. I've made a couple of cards to send out, and added the flowers. Each card is different, and I'm trying different techniques. I'm glad I have some blank cards here!

I'm glad I'm finally creating.

On Saturday morning, Hubby and I delivered thirteen (?) yard signs for staff members at our school. It felt good to do something for someone else! It took us a good two and a half hours, and we got to see some of the recipients. I am very privileged to work where I do. I'm very proud of how our district is feeding the children, as well. Each Wednesday, they provide a week's worth of food for any children in the district who need it. THAT is to be commended.

We went shopping for Mom and Dad on Sunday and then sat in their back yard talking with them for an hour or two. Mom said it makes her day when we stop by. Our discussions aren't riveting, because there's not much new to say, but it's simply nice to connect.

There are green ribbons suddenly on the trees around our village. They signify our support for essential workers.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Day 42 - Zoom

Friday April 24, 2020

I finally saw some students today via Zoom.

I was nervous as all heck, and yet knew it would only be about four (turned out to be nine) students. I had my co-teacher there with me, and she helped with some of the awkward pauses. I'm glad we met! It was good to see smiles and frowns, and confusion, and pets, and... I was finally able to get some genuine real-time feedback from my students.


Zoom and Google have been used a ton recently - thank goodness for the use of this technology and for the Internet. That being said, it's exhausting! I read this article yesterday, and it's so true.

We ended the conversation with sharing what we're looking forward to this coming weekend. Believe it or not, it IS the weekend coming up.

And, of course, I saw this meme:

And I'm okay with goofy hair on the Zoom... maybe that will be our fun share with the next class!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Day 41 - Lost

Thursday, April 23, 2020

I'm lost. I was told how we'll be "grading" students, and now I feel as if I'm in some weird vortex sucking me down. I don't even know if I agree with it or not - it's just as if I'm in some weird show. It won't turn off.

I'll resurface, again.

I'll go at it with a vengeance, again.

Just not tonight.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Day 40 - A Slice of Student Life

I started this post a year or more ago... I'm coming back to it because right now my students have the following issues...

  • One child's dad is overseas and they can't always Zoom or Skype or... and he is dearly missed.
  • One child's mother has the coronavirus right now.
  • One child's grandfather died last week.
  • One child is living with Grandma, and we don't know what that living situation is like.
  • One child is living with grandparents because their mother works at a hospital.
  • One child is stuck in another state because they left for spring break and haven't yet been able to come back.

Add those issues to some issues my middle school students I've known throughout the years have had...
  • One child has been hospitalized for being dangerous to themselves.
  • One child is not sure about their gender.
  • One child's sibling took their own life.
  • One child found out they were autistic.
  • One child who shares that they are autistic doesn't receive support in social skills.
  • One child's parents went through a nasty divorce.
  • One child's parents need to give most of their attention to the younger sibling for various reasons.
  • One child, his mother, and his sibling... moved farther away from their father this school year.
  • One child spends five or more hours a night playing video games.
  • One child spends three hours a night at swim practice.
  • One child has a mom who doesn't believe the teachers.
  • One child does not get along with his new step-dad.
  • One child will be moving in a month.
  • One child found her birth mother passed away when she went to visit.
  • One child has an older sibling who tries different drugs when there is unstructured time.
And how do I respond when one child hasn't done ANY work for my class? How many emails do I send? How much do I "pester" that child and/or the parents? What is my duty? What is "too much" or "too little?" Which parents are home with their children and which are not? How can I find the right way when there is no feedback from the child or the parents? I am not cut out for this.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Day 39 - Pause

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

I went to school today. First I emailed the custodial staff and administrators like we're supposed to. I thought I would cry on my way there, I thought I'd cry on the way home. Instead, it was just... surreal.

A friend told me it would be like things were frozen in time. It was. It was like someone hit the "pause" button the weekend after March 13. However... someone also must've been in a time warp and cleaned everything. I think the room actually looked neater than how I left it.

I filled up a box with my school laptop (I'm privileged to have my own at home - it's been taking a beating, so I thought I'd use the school-issued one), the cardstock I bought (I'm making plans to make post cards... later post if I actually go through with it), Sharpies, a couple of portable white boards and markers, and lots of books I own but have never read.

I wondered for a bit about the students' binders in the room. How will the - or will they?? - get them back? Would they even want them? Do I save them and give them to their next year's ELA teachers? Does it matter??

Then I went home and agonized over our plans for the week. I also crossed things off my list, added new things to my list, contacted some students, and waited for contact from students. Even though it's not "my day to teach," I did make contact with two students. Of course, that contact was the highlight of my day!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Day 38 - Heartbreak Maps

Monday, April 20, 2020

We're asking students to create heartbreak maps this week, so here is mine at this point in my life (meaning I wouldn't have these heartbreaks if it weren't for the pandemic)...

What I love... what I'm caring about at this moment...
  • Family
  • Students
  • Health
  • Seniors (in high school and college)
  • Healthcare Workers
  • Technology

And what breaks my heart about them...
  • Family - no hugs; nephew has a bike that's too small, but he wants to ride; they're all hoping for this to end and have no idea when it will; worry of them getting sick and me not being able to hug them because they don't live with me...
  • Students - no sports; no in-person friend time; Spring play canceled; no clubs; not knowing and hoping for this to end...
  • Health - we need to stay IN; constantly washing hands; wearing masks to the grocery store; worry and fear; many people are without a job due to the constraints; many people are in HUGE lines for food; the politics of this thing are making people angry with each other...
  • Seniors (in high school and college) - missing out on graduation, prom, sports, musicals, clubs, etc...
  • Healthcare Workers - work long hours; can't be with their family
  • Technology - students around the world without the Internet; many family members have to share their devices; who's got access and how is this equitable...

These are all worries, I know. Next step? What am I going to DO about it??

More resources for Heartbreak Maps -
     Learning to Give
     Aaron Maurer

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Days 36 & 37

  • Our favorite taco place has more safety protections in place.
  • Gasoline is about $1.79 per gallon.
  • Our (virtual) team meetings are down to twice a week.
  • Our lessons (at the middle school level) are down to twice a week.
  • I'm planning on my first Zoom meeting with one class later this week. It's time.
  • I watched a video about how to be safe with your groceries.
  • I've enjoyed watching "The Shows Must Go On" on Fridays or Saturdays.
  • Hubby and I are only doing one "exciting" thing per day. We've got to stretch out the activities.
  • A little more sci fi action in this post about Ford employees wearing social distancing bracelets that vibrate if you get too close...
  • We donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
  • A student at our high school district has most likely died of COVID-19, and another is in ICU. I don't even have words.

This weekend we fixed a geocache on a local trail. People were good about keeping distance, and they were also smiling and friendly.

We also purchased groceries. Weird how some (different) shelves are empty now. This week it was the instant noodles. I noticed this near the restrooms, too - the water fountains are covered.

We ordered small easy-to-care-for house plants online and we'll pick them up tomorrow from the nursery - curbside pickup! It's nice to look forward to the small things these days! (One Lily is for my parents... shhhhh!)

Friday, April 17, 2020

At the End of the Day (Day 35)

... they're not my kids.

I've said it time and again to anyone who would listen that my seventh graders ARE my kids.

I don't have any of my own children. My ex and I tried... well... I'm not going there in this post. We wanted children. When I got a divorce eleven years into the marriage, I was thankful we did not have children who would have divorced parents. My next (and last) husband was thankful, as well! His are grown adults, and he was glad he wouldn't have to be a live-in parent once again. (He says he was too old.)

I love what I do. Call it a passion if you'd like. I never envisioned myself teaching. I never really thought I'd want to be with seventh graders all day. I have always had a passion for reading, and in the last ten or so years, for writing as well. One thing I love is getting my kids passionate about reading and writing also. I pride myself in knowing who my students are, matching them up with books that will hold their attention, and figuring out what they love (and what they hate).  Looking at their faces every day, I learn who they are inside and build those relationships that make me smile and cry. I love noticing how they react to certain things, how they give me funny looks, and how they blurt out things I never thought I'd hear. Oh, the laughter my middle schoolers provide me. Oh, the range of emotions when one day they love me and the next I'm getting serious glares. They've taught me patience and kept me young.

These seventh graders are entrusted to us each day - I only get them for eighty minutes a day, but that's double the other teachers at my school. I am with them 400 minutes per week, and I really get to know them. They hold my heart in their hands, and I hold them close to me. I've tried to instill a love of learning in them. I haven't been able to see a handful at ALL during this remote learning. They've been doing other school work, but I guess I've failed in my mission for some of them. Then it finally happened here in Illinois... We learned today that we won't be seeing them in person the rest of this school year. My heart has broken multiple times since school closed March 13.
Bitmoji Image

I've always thought - and shared - that my students ARE my children.

I would take any of them any day.

I would get bothered when some teachers would share they teach better now that they have their own children.

I would get angry when some teachers would share that you can't really know how to teach until you have children of your own.

I actually used to think I may teach better than teachers who are parents would, since I do have that "extra time" at home to plan and create and...

This thinking - that my seventh graders are my kids - really bogged me down the last four weeks of this remote / distance / crisis learning. I was so worried about their mental health, their physical health, their overall well being, their skills, their checking in (or not) with me.

Then it hit me at the end of the day. When I close the computer for the day, putting aside their writing, their comments, their questions, their hope - "See you soon!" ... I feel better. I immediately feel better each day when I close the computer and tried to put thoughts of them behind me. I realized why.

At the end of the day, they're NOT my children.
They're someone else's responsibility.
Someone out there loves them more than I do. More than I can.

I've done what I can do.
It's all I can do.
I'll keep doing all I can do, but at the end of the day... they're not my children.
It's not all on me.
When I close my computer for the day, the only ones I need to worry about are precious members of my own family.

Be strong, parents.
You know your own children.
You've got this.
Let me know when I can help.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Day 34 - If I Were the Parent

Thursday, April 16, 2020

We're on a new schedule this week. Four classes a day, 30 minutes each, not to exceed three hours.
So we switched up the plans for yesterday. (It's similar to the information provided in Monte Syrie's latest post.)

Only 54% of my students responded to that assignment yesterday. This is my lowest percentage so far since we started learning from home. More of my seventh graders are becoming disengaged for some reason. I work in an affluent district, and I'm not (too) worried about my kids learning things during this time. I just wish they'd tell me to not worry about their child completing the work. I don't have my own children. If I were the parent...

If I were the parent, I might say, "You don't need to worry about work today. Just look at it on Friday, Sweetheart."

If I were the parent, I might say, "Let's get out of the house!" We'd ride to Michigan and try to look at the lake somewhere. Time would fly by, and we'd forget all about school work.

If I were the parent, I might say, "Do you want to put some sunshine on the sidewalk with chalk before the snow comes back?"

If I were the parent, I might say, "Let's read something random off the shelf. Better yet, let's have dictionary races!"

If I were the parent, I'd be disengaged.
If my children were happy, I'd leave them alone.
I'd let them simply BE.

Is it my job to worry like this over my kids?
I don't think it's healthy, and I need to find a remedy.
I have to trust that their parents know what's right for their child.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Day 33 - Privilege

My privilege is showing again when I share all the funny memes I've seen.

I was reminded of it this morning when I saw this shared on Twitter:

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Day 32 - The New Normal

In my tiny corner of the world, "The New Normal" means:
  • You can't expect anything.
  • No matter your routine, it's not routine.
  • Distractions are welcomed.
  • I wake, not sure what day it is.
  • Tears come quickly and unexpectedly.
  • I'm constantly surprised at all of this.
  • I get drained mentally quicker than normal.
  • I'm still getting dressed each day - I don't own sweatpants, I love jeans, and I'm saving the PJs for if I get sick.
  • My hair gets in my face.
  • The small things don't really matter.
  • I'm taking about ten minutes out of every day. Just out. Just sitting.
  • Masks are worn at the grocery store. All kinds. I made this type (with rubber bands instead of hair ties) on Sunday, 4/5/20.
  • I loathe grocery shopping once again. The new normal has us shopping at times other than our Saturday morning (old) routine. It's just difficult for me to see people and not be able to read their expressions. It's really no biggie. I just hate it.
  • Schools and churches and banks and...sooo many businesses have signs of encouragement.
  • Parking lots are vacant.
  • I call my parents every day.
  • More people are spending time outside.
  • People are spending lots of time with their immediate family.
  • News reports arguing over keeping people at home or opening businesses again. More arguments over who should be helped with federal funds.
  • Healthcare workers are NOT spending time with their families.
  • Healthcare workers are working their butts off to save ours.

Scenes from the new normal:

Chicagoland traffic at 7am this morning

Monday, April 13, 2020

Day 31 - Energized

Monday, April 13, 2020

What fun news being shared lately...

And John Krasinski is still sharing his Some Good News!
There are also more opportunities for certain businesses...

And then... there's my favorite character... Pooh Bear...

I was energized today by my friend and colleague's student teacher and his enthusiasm. I'm glad he's on our team and is sticking with us! (He also started a blog!) Anyway, it got me going to finish this blog post about Genius Hour.  He said he'd look for resources online, and I didn't want him to have to struggle. It's also kind of a week late! I was pushed to write it by a friend, and today I decided to get on the ball and WRITE the darn thing!

Genius Hour Shifts to Online

Thank you to online colleague and face-to-face friend Aric Foster for the push to write this post...

Aric asked me for three bullet points and tips for shifting Genius Hour (or whatever you'd like to call it) online... Here are the basics I sent to him...

1) What about heartbreak maps?? They would be perfect for this situation. That could be the start of "What's a problem in your world you want to help solve?" Right now, our students want change for themselves and for others. Two great questions to get them thinking (ask one at a time) - What is something YOU want to improve for yourself? What is something someone you know needs? What is something you think the world needs?  TIP for the brainstorming part of the process: GIVE THEM TIME. I used to jump in and have students' ideas due in one week (or so). But when I tried to do it myself, it was often difficult for ME to come up with an idea worthy of my time. If the ideas we push out of them too soon aren't something they're passionate about, it's going to flop. It's got to be something they really really want to do. So provide the time for the idea to come. Once ideas start coming in, have students share them with others. That way those without ideas (yet) can use those as inspiration (even if they do the same thing - who the heck cares, as long as they're doing something for themselves or others?!).

2) While students (and YOU! - TIP: You should be doing your OWN, so you can be a step ahead of the kids in everything you're asking them to do.) are coming up with a topic/issue, you can be figuring out a couple of logistics.

3) You'll also want to come up with some sort of process/system for them to follow.  TIP for the process: Make something visible, so students can see where their peers are and ask each other for help with a step (if needed).

Then... go from there... keep doing your own project and follow along with student projects, going with the flow. One more TIP: Since you won't be in the classroom, roaming from student to student to see how they're doing, have some sort of reflection or exit slip for students to complete at the end of the day or week... Something that shows what their plan is for the week, how it went for them, and what their next plans are for the next week would be helpful to you and them.

And remember... You are a genius, and the world needs your contribution! (Thanks, Angela Maiers!)

Looking for MORE? Check out... 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Days 28, 29, & 30 - Easter

Time to create / document
unprecedented times

Friday through Sunday, April 10-12, 2020

The Boston Marathon is postponed until September.
A museum is selling items from the postponed Kentucky Derby.
Our favorite taco place put up a shield and is workers are now wearing gloves.
This article was interesting - about when Chicago schools closed in 1927.

Our "lunch group" met Wednesday night (virtually, of course - do I have to keep saying this?), and one teacher wondered what would happen if this was still going on in the fall? We'd definitely need professional development over how to have an online class. It could NOT be this "remote / emergency learning" we're doing now. Mom says the economy can't handle it, and we'll be back at school. I wonder if some teachers will say they're done teaching after this.

I took Bob to a park in Schaumburg so he could see the daffodils that we can't see at the arboretum. We also spotted two swans (and a visiting turtle) and a giant blue heron!

I made cards and baskets for my sister's family and for my parents. I went a little overboard.

A very sweet friend of mine dropped of a thoughtful "sanitized" basket to our house. I enjoyed playing with the bubbles right away, but I saved the rest of the basket for Easter morning. One thing I'm learning is that I enjoy looking forward to things. I'm content waiting.

This - to me - was not even funny. But since I'm not judging these days, I'll add it here (in case someone does find it funny).

"Church" on channel 7 was awkward to watch.

Since Mom and Dad couldn't figure out how to let Zoom access their video or audio, we used (a new tool for me) Google Duo. It was fun for a bit, then we ran out of things to share... nothing's been going on in our lives except what we've seen on bike rides or walks. I did hear that my niece and nephew (who are in 8th grade) are doing about 5 hours of school work each day. (?!?!) AND - we did all kind of dress up a bit!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Day 27 - Spring

Thursday, April 9, 2020

I had a rough morning reading student work for two hours, and commenting in a Google doc. It was rough because no matter what they write, I'm bombarded with COVID-19 talk. Worries, annoyances (at friends who still go out), frustrations, anxiety, hopes... I think most of them think we'll be heading back to school May 1st. I don't know if anyone knows when we'll head back.


It IS spring in Illinois. It snowed on our walk today. We were still able to see these beauties...

And when I was coming home from Mom & Dad's, I saw none other than the Easter bunny on a flat bed truck! It was even waving!

I know, right?! This town I live in...

This morning, Bob found this frog (toad?) under leaves... I loved being able to being here for it, instead of just seeing a picture he took of it. His hand is there for scale.

I also heard this song on the radio today... Three days after we sang as a staff, and one week after Bill Withers died...

And a sign of the times... on Forged In Fire, check out the messages from the History channel:
Top: We Are Here With You       Bottom: Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Home
And in the middle of town at the crosswalks yesterday... I was actually glad I didn't have to use my shoulder to press the button.

Heading to Mom and Dad's today, I got so many green lights due to the light traffic. When this is all over, I may be calm and happy with traffic and red lights, knowing that many many people are out and enjoying life with others or even at work.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Day 26 - Kindness

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

On our walk today, we stopped to stretch at the rink next to the water park. There were three adult males playing some sort of hockey. As we were stretching, a mini van pulled up with at least three kids in it. The boy got out, and after some hesitation, he asked the men, "Can I shoot at one goal?" They responded quickly, "Sure."

It simply warmed my heart.

When I got back to my laptop to check if I had any work email, I noticed that one family sent me photos of their child with their pet. I felt like sending a photo back! I didn't, but maybe I will next week. The caption can read, "Here is your ELA teacher two weeks after her scheduled hair cut."

In other news...

  • Last night we watched lightning miles away from our home. It was exciting and beautiful.
  • Grocery shopping on a Wednesday morning isn't bad. I spent $150 on Easter basket supplies for my parents and my sister, her husband, and their two eighth graders. I would say it was a pleasant experience. I did not wear my mask, because I didn't see hardly ANY people.
  • Bob got out on a beautifully sunny walk even though he's aching all over today. 
  • Bob and I saw tiny white-with-pink flowers all under the big oak trees at the local high school.
  • We said hello to many people on our walk.
  • We saw the huge friendly black lab-mix dog barking hello to us today. He's not so scary when you see his tail going crazily.
  • It's raining this late in the afternoon, and we're heading to the front porch to experience it.

Hang in there, people.
Document somehow if you want to remember this or share this with someone in the future.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Day 25 - Letters

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

This was our assignment for my ELA class today:

Not all of my students are currently doing ELA work. I have nine students who haven't done ANY yet (for a week now). There are some students who are doing ELA work everyday, and even asking for more. Anyway...

Here are some (shortened) responses I wanted to remember and share with you:

Dear School,
I actually miss you for once. I didn't think I would ever say that...

Dear best friend,
...I miss all the trips to the library, our bike rides, our "late overs" and sleepovers. I miss riding through Burger King on bikes or worrying that our bikes will be stolen if we leave and on't like them up (you left most of the worrying to me). I miss daydreaming about our futures and annoying everyone in math class. I miss being broke because I spent all of our money on the vending machine...     (*Note: Her letter was two pages long.)

Dear Yaya,
I have missed seeing you so much! I know that I have seen you through the window, but it is really just not the same...

Dear classmates,
How is everybody doing during quarantine? I have a good time playing video games and getting better at basketball outside. What do you guys think about e-learning, is it better than regular school? I think it is but the only downside is that I don't get to see my friends ever...

Dear [friend],
I can't think of anything, so I'll tell you what we should do after this is all over. We should go fishing at Kimball Park.   (*Note: His friend also wrote to HIM.)

Dear Mom,
Thank you for always looking out for me, loving me, caring for me, and giving me yummy food. :)...

Dear wonderful parents,
...I cant really tell you anything new because I live with you guys so I'm just gonna say that it is very hard to stay in this house for 3 weeks or even longer I don't know...

Dear FigmentForms,
You are my favorite artist, and I'm so sorry that you have coronavirus now. You helped a lot of people when you still worked at that hospital. I am really sad that they didn't give you proper PPE...

Dear Governor,
Please let us out of quarantine. It is really boring and you can not see your friends in real life...maybe we can all wear masks and maybe gloves when we go outside?

And then there was the one that made me bawl and (after responding) shut off the laptop for an hour or so... 

Dear Mrs. Kirr,
I miss you so much! This coronavirus is terrible, and I hate quarantine so much. I actually want to be back at school now! I am enjoying some time off though. I know we can communicate online, but I think that in real life it was so much better. I hope this is all over soon, and that I can see you! How are you doing?

Monday, April 6, 2020

Day 24 - Not for Me to Judge

Monday, April 6, 2020

We've been told to not judge the kids on the work they're doing (or not doing) during remote learning for now. I get it, and I respect it. If I had to do school work now, I'd probably be really snarky about it. YET... my brain still judges when I see a student write one sentence, and it doesn't even make sense.

Humans judge. My job today is for me to check the fact that I am judging, and then move on. If a student has provided one sentence, I'll comment, "Nice start!" and then move on.

I've got a friend who I tried to FaceTime with two weeks ago, and yet she answered it on her watch, so it wasn't FaceTime. She was also doing other stuff, so our conversation was pretty much one-sided. At the time, I was very put out and thought, "I guess I'll know my true friends when this is all done." Today, I came at it with a new perspective. It was at the start of all this, and she was keeping busy. Maybe keeping busy is the way she protected herself. Maybe it was something she needed to do at the time. Now that I've written it down, I have to let it go. If it happens again, I'll ask her to call me when she's got time to devote to a conversation.

Walgreens shared this in my email, and I immediately judged them for "taking advantage of the situation," then I thought... there will be plenty of people who didn't know what to do about their weddings, and this could help them:

Same goes for this sponsor in my Instagram feed:

And I really shouldn't judge the workers who closed off our parks like this... They've never done this before, either.

What a fabulous reminder about grace from Aric Foster in his latest blog post.

And another one from my Instagram feed:

When I get down in the dumps from all this, I get upset with myself for being down. I've got the BEST situation here. It's just the two of us, my parents are healthy and I can sit in their yard to talk with them, I'm still getting paid, we've got food and toilet paper (a couple left!)... What's my problem? I judge myself all the time too. A close friend reminded me that it's okay to feel this way. I'm still in this situation with everyone else, and I can't compare myself to others. Just like we say about social media getting to us - we are all in this together - even if we're in very different situations.

When I cry (over nothing sometimes), I'll learn to not judge myself. I'll let it out, blow my nose, find something funny, and move on.

From TikTok today... to the "Yup / Nope" soundtrack... (gabbiedaddie???)


And then I saw this work from a student... Since it is Monday and we wanted some semblance of routine, we asked them to write different types of sentences. She rocked it. I responded that she made me frown and smile at the same time if that's even possible. (And I also suggested she could always READ...) đŸ˜‰