Slice of Life Day 31

Well this March certainly wasn’t like any March I’ve blogged about in the past.

This has been a very anxiety-ridden month. At the beginning of March my students were reading about Covid-19 in the newspaper (as they had been since December) and they had some class discussions about what would happen when it began to spread in the US. By the middle of the month the district had called a half-day Friday that turned into a day off for students so that teachers could meet to begin planning for possible remote schooling. That was a Friday. By the end of the weekend school was closed until March 27. A few days later that changed to “closed indefinitely”.

On March 12th my students walked out of school under the assumption that we might close for a week or two in the coming days. On March 13th I closed my classroom door unsure of when I would return. Now it seems like I probably won’t return this year. The school is frozen in time- classrooms decorated, books spilling out of lockers, plants growing towards the sunlight streaming through the windows. I can’t fathom that I likely won’t step back into my room this year. I can’t fathom that our seniors might have already walked the halls for the last time. I can’t fathom not ending the year with my seniors and my freshmen.

We are still working (and teaching from home is a million times harder than teaching in the classroom, which is already difficult!), but it’s not the same. Part of me is grieving this lost year, but I’m also trying embrace this opportunity to try something new. It’s hard, but. I’m trying.

The Slice of Life Challenge is always one of my favorite assignments during the school year, but this year it’s been especially valuable. I’ve gotten to see what life is like for my students as they quarantine and follow the stay-put order in NJ. It’s helped them connect with each other during this difficult time. I’m always grateful for what I learn about my students and our classroom community when they participate, but it’s been so much more meaningful this year.


Slice of Life Day 30

My writing today is on Medium.

Lessons in Letting Go and Stepping Into the Unknown of Remote Teaching

We are a few weeks into the great remote teaching experiment of 2020 in many parts of the country. How can we use this time to revitalize school?

Sarah GrossMar 30 · 5 min read

Norms are important to teachers. Let’s be honest- many of us are control freaks. It’s why we have trouble letting go of books, units, and projects we’ve developed. But we are living through unprecedented times, so in the words of Elsa, we need to “let it go”.

Read the rest here.

Slice of Life Day 29

Somehow the days are both too long and too short. Time is weird in quarantine.

Today was another rainy spring day. I spent the morning preparing the dogs’ frozen Kongs for the week and cleaning up. After that time got away from me. I don’t remember doing anything other than picking up bagels for the week (yay curbside pickup and yay for supporting small businesses!). Eventually we took the dogs for a muddy, soggy walk at the park. The rain has ensured a much less crowded park and that makes me happy. People have been great about practicing social distancing, but the park is usually empty when I go. That has not been the case since quarantine started.

Tomorrow we begin week 3 of remote learning. I feel like a first-year teacher all over again. I am very much looking forward to spring break so I can try to get back on my feet again. I have a lot to figure out as we move into the 4th marking period remotely.

Slice of Life Day 28 Weekly Diigo Posts (weekly)

  • Here’s everything I favorited on Twitter this week.
  • Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

    Slice of Life Day 27

    More walks today. After our evening walk (our third walk of the day) Dublin wanted to sit on the porch and wait for Chris and Navan to finish their run. So we did. It was 70° and the sun was still shining at 6:30pm.

    I love hiking, but I think even the dogs are getting tired of walking so much. I know it’s a long way off, but I can’t wait to get back to normal. Here a list of things I miss (in no particular order):

    • Seeing my family
    • Going to the movies
    • Going to the theater
    • Dog classes
    • Book events
    • The mall
    • Target
    • Concerts
    • Going to work
    • Getting my house ckeaned
    • Eating out
    • Therapy dog viduts
    • My students
    • Nerdcampnj
    • Book clubs
    • My commute
    • Iced coffee with thin mint swirl
    • Frappuccinos
    • The beach
    • Running errands
    • Tutoring
    • Sports

    What do you miss?

    Slice of Life Day 26

    Is it already Thursday night? I feel like I worked 14-hour days all week. 😬

    Before the governor closed schools we were given a PD day to co-plan with colleagues. I left with two weeks of plans. Those plans ended today. I can not imagine how much more work I’ll do as I try to plan out the next few weeks (months?).

    The hardest part is not knowing how long this will last. I’m assuming we won’t return this year, but I’d love to get confirmation on that. It wound make my plans a little easier. But who knows.

    I did get outside for two walks today. Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain, so I’m going to bake some Irish soda bread muffins when school ends. I did our grocery shopping for the next three weeks today, so we are set. I can bake to my heart’s content!

    Slice of Life Day 25

    What TV shows are getting you through quarantine?

    We cut the cord a little over two years ago and recently switched to YoutubeTV (after PlaystationVue shut down). One of the benefits of streaming cable is the cloud DVR that holds an endless number of episodes. I keep the TV on in the background while I work so the dogs don’t bark every time a leaf moves outside, so I’ve been taking full advantage of mindless TV.

    My go-to background TV show is Friends. I’ve seen every episode hundreds of times since middle school, so it’s perfect for background noise. The same goes for Law and Order (the original series). Law and Order SVU tends to distract me more, so that’s what I watch when cooking dinner or cleaning. At this rate, I should be able to watch/rewatch every season of all three shows.

    Slice of Life Day 24

    What I’ve learned while being quarantined and practicing social distancing:

    • I need to get outside everyday. And not just in my yard. I’m grateful fir my dogs and local parks.
    • I am not someone who can work from home under normal circumstances. I’m making this work, but it’s not for me.
    • I don’t own enough lounge clothes.
    • Sometimes it’s good to put on jeans.
    • The days are fast and slow.
    • I’m not nearly as productive as I thought I’d be.
    • Teaching from home is a lot harder than teaching at school.
    • I miss my students.
    • Our students miss school.
    • I’m comfortable eating takeout and I feel strongly about supporting local small businesses.
    • I miss Friends on Netflix.
    • Law and Order makes great background white noise.
    • It’s hard to focus on reading.
    • It’s even harder to focus on writing.
    • Chris and I are good at managing two work from home schedule me and it’s great spending more time together.

    Slice of Life Day 23

    Week 2 of remote learning started today. The alFriday before we moved online we had time plan for two weeks of virtual learning. I realized today that I need to figure out what and how I’m teaching the the foreseeable future (likely the rest of the year).

    The dogs seem to be getting used to having us home. Today it rained all day, so they didn’t get long walks like they did yesterday. Around 8pm Dublin reminded me that we usually take a 3-mile walk on Monday nights while Chris and Navan are at class. Of course there was no class tonight, but Dublin is a dog who likes to stick to a schedule. I squeezed in a quick walk before Chris and I settled in to watch some DVRed TV.

    The days in quarantine are starting to blend together. I think today was day 9 or 10 for me. I’ll have to venture out for groceries later this week (we bought two weeks worth and need to restock), but otherwise all my time is spent working, reading, hiking, baking, or watching TV. #flattenthecurve

    Slice of Life Day 22

    Quarantine day something. I’ve lost track and we are only a few days into this.

    Sunday is usually my tutoring and grocery shopping day, but it was a little different this week. I did work, but the tutoring center I work at ran an online info session that I was a part of. That took up a good portion of the morning, but I did sneak in two walks with the dogs.

    No grocery shopping today, but we did pick up lunch from a local small business. (If you are local, Jersey Freeze is running specials and doing curbside pickup). I’m trying to help local businesses while maintaining social distancing as much as possible.

    The other exciting part of my day was giving away books! I have hundreds of books thanks to being on awards committees and attending conferences. Most copies go to my students, but that’s not possible right now. So I posted in a few local Facebook groups that I was willing to leave bags of books on my porch for anyone interested.

    Books on my porch

    A bunch of people requested books! And more people contacted me tonight! I still have lots of books ready fo give away and I hope more people will get in touch. I may also stop at a few Little Free Libraries and add to their stock.

    Other than that, my day was spent watching TV. Chris and I started Little Fires Everywhere and I watched The Greatest Showman 1.5 times. You do what you have to do in quarantine!