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.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Day 140 - One Teacher's Summer

I watched a school board meeting last night.

I heard one parent state that teachers have been out this summer ("vacation, restaurants, bars, protesting"), so what's the problem with returning to the school building? (Even though, once again, teachers are not deciding these things. And, once again, I'll say I, too, want to return to school when it's safe or when we can maintain six feet distance.)

So... I thought I'd document all the things I've done outside my own home this summer:

  • Grocery shopping every week - with mask on and distancing in place.
  • Sometimes we pick up food from a drive through. (We're saving a TON of money not going out every weekend like we used to.)
  • I picked up four house plants (didn't even get out of the vehicle - they put them in the back seat).
  • Social distance lunch (three of us) to celebrate a teacher who retired this year and give a gift. In case you're wondering - no hugs for this coworker.
  • Backyard planning with a coworker - never closer than six feet - not even heading into the house to use the restroom.
  • Front yard distanced lunch with two other teachers.
  • Social distance walking (me in the street, because I'm the "rebellious" one).
  • Social distance bike ride (one).
  • Played tennis with Hubby.
  • Front yard distancing at my parents' house. I decided to hug my parents on Day 100 - with a mask on. I know some teachers who still haven't hugged their parents yet.
  • Walks and bike rides.
  • Still learning my Spanish on Duolingo - 581 day streak as of today.
  • I went to my school building to pick up my book for a book club. No need to go past the foyer.
  • Two nights of camping for our anniversary - just Hubby and I. Hiking on our own, driving around, just the two of us. Here we are that day in June:
  • Drove one day to Illinois Beach and one to Warren Dunes State Park to swim in Lake Michigan. Loved that everyone kept their distance both days.
  • We hit golf balls at a driving range once (so far).
  • Each of us got our hair cut. Our second one is set for August.
  • I plan on going to the school building next week to take out the extra furniture I'd purchased myself to make our room more comfortable for my seventh graders. I'll wear gloves and a mask and not need to see anyone.
Maybe I should mention that day we... nope. We didn't do anything else this summer. Unless you count taking great care of the lawn and landscaping and house and puzzles and television and reading and writing and listening to music and making our own meals and ordering $180 worth of scrubs + masks when we heard school was starting "all-in" and keeping myriad ideas in mind until we heard I was going to teach remotely. THEN I could finally start planning. I've now had four days of planning for my next school year... on my "summer vacation." I want to do my best for the children.

I've held myself accountable and had this type of summer for a few reasons:

  • I want to stay healthy.
  • I want my family to stay healthy.
  • I want our nation to kick this virus.
  • I want to go back to school safely and be with (stranger's) children again.
I don't assume all parents are out and about with their kids not distancing or wearing masks. I have seen some, but I would never say a blanket statement about all parents, or really about any one "group" of people. This summer has been a struggle for many. We're in a pandemic.


Ideas that I heard at the meeting that I hope educators can do this school year:
  • I'd love to be able to meet the students before we start - somehow, someway.
  • I'd love to be able to meet 1:1 somehow with kids (maybe our homeroom?) each week or so to set goals and check in on progress and create new goals if needed. I hear it's not safe to meet 1:1 virtually, so I hope districts find and share ways to make it safe.

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