Sunday, July 19, 2020

A Walk in the Park

I'm a few weeks in with my new trainer, Kay the Brit, and he's got me working very hard. I have five workouts a week assigned by him (two with him via Skype), and two active recovery days, Wednesday and Sunday.

Last weekend, I decided to take my Sunday morning walk at a park near me that I had driven by many times, along Dry Creek. It ended up being lovely walking a dirt trail by a winding creek. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to explore another nearby park this weekend.

Gibson Ranch County Park is only a few miles down the road from my neighborhood, and it promised more of Dry Creek, as well as horses to look at. So this morning, I set off early.

The park is lovely--open and well-maintained, with a large pond and all kinds of animals, wild and domestic. After visiting all of this, I set off on one of the dirt trails along Dry Creek, and thoroughly enjoyed myself wandering along with little company except the occasional fellow walker, a couple of people on horseback, and people fishing in the creek below me. Mostly, I just heard birds.

I unplugged from my music andenjoyed the early day sun, the movement of my body, and most of all, the peace.

Of course I had to take some pictures.

I didn't see any turtles around the pond this time.

The one on the left is a donkey. 

Paid me no mind.

The cutest pony.

Canada geese

Ducks and squirrels. 

I came across a fallen tree
I felt the branches of it looking at me
--Keane, "Somewhere Only We Know"

You can just make out a quite large bird of prey (some type
of raptor) on a rock in the middle of the creek.

A couple of miles out, I found a small path that wound down to an actual beach--sand and everything. The beach itself was tiny, and situated in the most beautiful little place. I stayed there for several minutes, listening to birds, watching minnows dart around in the creek. A couple of butterflies searched the bushes near me. I snapped the picture above and thought, as I always do, just how much I love California.

After this, I turned to trek back to my car, and then back into the busy streets of my community. I'll definitely go back to Gibson Ranch again.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

What Options?

Yesterday, Sacramento County announced that all schools would go to 100% distance learning as we start the 2020-21 school year. I fully support this.

You have to understand that I do not want to teach online. If I could wave my magic wand and fix this whole Covid-19 mess (and while we're at it, replace Donald Trump with a grown-up who believes the WHO and the CDC more than he cares about his public image), it would be done. The curve would be flattened. People would stay home, wear masks when they do have to go out, and not be belligerent assholes about it.

Teachers would be anticipating the coming school year (we start August 10 in my district), and starting to go into classrooms to decorate and set things up just so. We do this because we bloody love the first day of school. It's a great day for us--all those faces, so eager to see us, all the new outfits and new school supplies. Kids greeting friends they haven't seen in a while, getting to know a new teacher (or, in middle school, same ole teachers, new grade level). We want this. We don't want to do this online.

But our options, if you can call them that, were all rotten.

We could:

  1. Return to school at 100% capacity, with anywhere from 20-30 kids in a classroom, some ventilation, kids who might resist wearing a mask or just treat the mask like a toy. No tying shoelaces for a first grader, no hugging a child who is having a rough day. No cooperative groups, no leaning over a child's desk to point out where in the work they took a wrong turn. Constant reminders that you can't play basketball at recess, to stay apart. In other words, take away every piece of emotional and social connection that our kids need, but in over-crowded conditions (you can't space 30 desks 6 feet apart from each other in a standard classroom). In this situation, there's a constant threat of the spread of illness.
  2. Hybrid Model--okay, so we have more room to move around, because we can fit 15 kids in the room with distancing, and with fewer kids, you can answer questions with more detail, even if you can't go to that kid's desk physically to help. This is what we were anticipating, at my school, and readying for. It meant having work online for kids to do when they were at home, so of course, it meant a lot more work for teachers. But it also meant seeing our kids in person, even if only a couple days a week. 
  3. Go online...and frankly, with California now setting records for new cases, and the inability of so many people to practice social distancing and mask-wearing, I was getting very anxious about being in school with the kids. It only takes one person with the virus to be a spreader. And I teach approximately 150 middle school kids. The risks are high right now, and I don't want to get sick. I don't want to expose my dad to this when I do see him. 
Here we are. I don't want to teach online, I don't want to add to the difficulty of families regarding childcare and at-home learning. What I want is leadership that takes Covid seriously, and unfortunately, that's not going to happen as long as Donald Trump is in charge.

So, I'll teach online until it is deemed safe enough for me to go back to the classroom. I will work my ass off to make lessons for my kids that are engaging, understandable, and meet my standards. All of us will rise to the challenge, because we're teachers. This is what we do all the time. 

Fortunately, I work in a school that is hugely supportive. My colleagues and I are already sharing ideas, talking each other down from the anxiety, and focusing on our number one priority: the well-being and learning of our kids. I'll add here that we're in the middle of our summer vacation doing this, so don't come bawling to me that we get summers off.