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, December 10, 2020

His words...

We were hesitating over taking the niece and nephew to camp - in our own trailer - in Holland, Michigan this summer. We'd had reservations since January (they're tough to get!), and the campground was open once again. It's something we'd done for many years in a row. We would bring our own food, have our own shower and toilet, and only swim in the waves. We'd be away from people. 

What did it matter? Why was the decision so huge? Because it was the summer of 2020.

I wanted to go so bad. We hadn't been anywhere all summer! I was so tired of this whole quarantine thing! Our niece and nephew wanted to go even more. I cried over what to do. They may have cried not knowing if we were even going. This year has brought "too many" cancellations and oh-so-many tears. Who has it not affected?

What helped me figure out what the right thing to do was my husband's words. We were sitting in the truck after visiting my parents in their backyard, exhausted from going back and forth on this decision. Finally, these words of his sunk in.

"If I'm wrong, we are all safe. If you're wrong..." 

We didn't know what would happen if I was wrong. It could affect us, my sister's family, my parents...

His words have helped steer my own decisions since that day. 

I truly hope that our school board made the correct decision in not having an adaptive pause for the last two weeks before winter break until the two weeks after winter break. (More numbers: Most students would only miss EIGHT days in the school building).

I truly hope more parents who travel will keep their children out of the schools for two weeks afterwards (even though this was not always the case after Thanksgiving - please, please, students, stop telling me where you went if you're going to show up in my classroom for 80 min of my day).

If an adaptive pause was wrong, at the very least we (students, staff... and my sensible spouse) were all safe.

I do not let my students know I worry - about my husband's physical health, along with my own mental health trying to be my best for all 75 students. At least during remote learning, I can break down between classes with no one knowing. While in front of students, I'm still acting like my "normal" teacher self. I have it easier than many teachers - every teacher I know is struggling. Every teacher I know is working on making it through.

I don't know the rates of cases in the community where I work. I do not live in the community where I work. Instead, I'll document here the rise in deaths in the US for the past weeks our district has been in hybrid mode: 

This piece was another story I had to make sure to document. Sometimes writing about struggles helps my heart and mind.


  1. Joy, writing about your struggles during this time continues your great documentation of these unprecedented times. Your daily posts in the spring were presented so honestly, lovingly and meticulously. I'm glad you are continuing with the updates. You are writing primary sources of pandemic teaching.

    I love Bob's wise words--"If I'm wrong, we are all safe..." Good words to take to heart. I keep saying I know this is temporary, however long it is. Stay safe while we wait for the end.

    1. Thank you, Denise. I don't publicize posts like these, as people who worry are worried enough. I do, however, feel like I have to document them. I'm trying to stay safe! When the kids come back today (for more hybrid), I'll be wearing a face shield, as well. (I'm going to try to add reindeer antlers to it... we'll see how that goes!) Love to you!