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.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Day 394 - Random Thoughts

Such feelings this school year. 
Such a sad year for so many people.
Nurses, doctors, parents, children, minorities, those without choices...
At day 394, I'm in a slump. 
I've been here before, and I'll be here again.
I'm am a very privileged person, so I'm trying not to complain.
I'll just add some recent sights and thoughts and leave it at that today.
I'm not okay, yet I know I'll be okay.

Principals speaking up for educators.

Yes, I'm vaccinated. No, I'm still not eating inside restaurants.
Yes, I can still catch and carry the virus, or a new strain of it.

The value of teachers

The vilification of teachers

Pulled Apart

Stretched Thin - Almost Breaking

July - Our school district is going full in. I bought scrubs and got advice from my older cousin who's a surgeon. August - Nope. Our school district will begin remotely. AND... we're not changing a thing. We'll teach the new curriculum we were going to, have a time schedule just like "regular" school. AND... be sure to provide screen breaks. AND... just love the kids. September 1-4, 2020 = the hardest week of my 25+ years of teaching. How can I teach children I don't know through a screen? End of September - I'm getting into a groove. I know most of my students. I'm using the technology learned to do things I could NOT do during a typical school year. October 12 = The start of hybrid. This means these things have to be done simultaneously: Take temperatures at the door, let in remote students, make sure students at home and at school can see and hear the lesson, clean the tables each period, don't get close to the students, monitor the hallways, make sure students are six feet apart, have engaging activities for home and at school, take mask breaks while staying at least six feet apart... We were told #1 is safety. #2 is connection. #3 is instruction. Um, yeah. 'Cuz we CAN'T DO ANY MORE. Mondays remotely became my favorite day of the week, as I could check in on kids 1:1 without other students listening. Kids could send me direct messages - and I'd SEE them. December 2 in the afternoon - my middle school will be remote until December 15th. Then we'll went back to hybrid for four days before the two week winter break. Woops! Remote again until January 19th. OH! And then "all in" January 21st on. Except for the 18% at my school who are remote still. Why not change ONE MORE TIME?! Mondays will not not be remote starting the week of April 26. 

Meanwhile, my inbox is full of student emails. Even though they were just in class with me.

Throughout all this, my students... Some I cannot reach via direct message or verbally. Some are always there, asking questions and sharing stories. When some get to school and give me grief, I am much stricter than I've ever been, because I will not let them add that to my plate. All are caring and respectful most times. Overall, it's a sweet group - that really just wants to socialize. It's very tough to get instruction in, but I do hope we learn at least one lesson every period. 

Throughout all this, sprinkles of emails from parents thanking me for all I'm doing. Telling me to stay safe. I had a hard time holding back tears during parent conferences when a parent would ask me, "How are YOU doing?" Not good. But no worries - I'll still love your child. I'm still putting on my show and doing my very best. Sprinkles of students sharing with me - letting me know they know I believe they matter. Sprinkles of good notes to students, thanking them for all their contributions to class.

One parent - Remote learning is too difficult for my child.

Another parent - How are you challenging my child?

Another parent - My child needs to go to school to socialize with peers. 

Administration - Safety and connection come first. 

Parent - Why isn't my child doing more work?

BoE - Let's bring in 18-year-olds who want jobs to supervise classrooms.

Nation - Yes, we'll have standardized testing this year. (Who used last year's data to drive instruction this year? No one. And who will be at fault when scores aren't improved from last year? Educators.)

And then there's this. More truth.

From Chanea

I learned this term doing required professional development - on my own time.

I'm tired.

I'm sad.

My voice is not being listened to. Twenty six years of experience doesn't matter. Being a National Board Certified teacher doesn't matter. Caring about my students doesn't seem to matter. (Hopefully it matters to them.) If I stop sharing my views, does that mean "they" won? I'm done fighting for now. They must know I can't keep up the fight. My resources are depleted. Even getting these random thoughts down has drained me emotionally. I need to be there for my family, and then be there tomorrow for my students.

I'm going to stay off social media, where we see parents posting how they "can add 4th grade teacher to my resume." No. No you can't. I have no clue what you're going through, and you have no clue what I'm going through. I'm going to read to gather more perspectives, and I'm going to keep my focus on your children, so that they can learn to love and be compassionate towards one another.

Let's all love one another. That means listening to one another and trying to work together. I can do that without sharing it for all to see. If you need me, you know how to find me. Reach out, and I'll do what I can. I'll be doing what I can for my 75 students in the room and at home, and when I get my energy back, I'll do what I can for the future of our nation.

If you've read this far, please check out my newest (2018) LiveBinder to help make a difference in our world: tinyurl.com/AntiracistLB 

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