On December 21st my godfather passed away. Yet the process of letting him go began more than a decade prior — long before he was diagnosed with any illness. My godmother is a planner and thus during one of our annual beach getaways, she initiated a discussion on how the two of them would let go of life when the time came. The discussion lasted all evening as my godparents responded to questions and what-if scenarios. My godfather was adamant on how he wanted to let go. No fuss, no hospitals, and no interventions. …
Loud suffering has an impact. It signals a need for community, help, and support.
On December 2, 2020, an 11-year-old boy in Northern California made his suffering known through the loudness of a gunshot. His sister, who was in the house, heard the gunshot in her own Zoom session and ran next door for help. I can only imagine the loudness of suffering in those moments. What can be certain is that, before he made his pain audible, this young man had quietly suffered.
At the beginning of the school year, I presented the idea that teachers may be quietly suffering. Six months later it is no longer just an idea. The question now is how should educators process their suffering? I suggest that the first step is for educators to move beyond feelings of shame and engage in loud suffering. Teachers must collectively raise their voices such that the sound of suffering is undeniable and too unbearable to be ignored. …
One myth that has arisen from the pandemic is that everyone is available to respond to emails. Professionals across all sectors have bemoaned the increase in digital communications. Top executives have long battled email fatigue with boutique mobile apps such as Superhuman. While most professionals unaware of such applications or unable to pay the hefty $30-a-month subscription are left to wrangle their inboxes to identify which communications are important.
This challenge has only increased over the last eight months, yet there is an opportunity for a winter refresh. The upcoming holiday season creates a socially accepted refrain from heavy email communications. …
Recently on Twitter, there was a thread naming processes and machines that are no longer in use like video cassette tape rewinders. The thread made me think of how the language used to describe certain processes lives on in current times, even while most people don’t recall the connection. One such example is the CC function in emails. CC is a term that originated with the creation of carbon copies — a process for replicating documents before toner and ink printers. To get an exact copy of a written document, one would place a sheet of carbon in between two sheets of paper. …
If you have been in education since 2013, you have more than likely watched Brené Brown’s video on empathy.
It’s an animated short featuring the characters Bear, Fox, and Deer.
Fox is in pain, so much so that it feels like it is in a deep hole. Fox laments, “I am overwhelmed.”
Embodying empathy, Bear climbs down the ladder into the hole and reminds Fox, “You are not alone.” As they sit with the heaviness of the dark hole, along comes Deer.
With her silver lining paintbrush and her emotive “Oooh, that looks bad,” Deer spews several “at least” statements that minimize Fox’s experiences. …
It is still present.
Educators are grieving because of pandemic teaching, the loss of in-person connections with students, the overwhelming schedules and Zoom fatigue, the never-ending workload.
As the seasons change and distance learning continues into the fall, grief can take its toll.
The impact is visible in the stories educators tell through Facebook and Twitter posts that name grief and hopelessness.
Yet it is storytelling that can provide a space to reframe grief as hope.
Stories are powerful.
We have a long tradition of telling stories as humans, whether through Egyptian hieroglyphics or prized short story anthologies.
Stories shape our reality and name our possibilities. …
“I used to think massages were for rich people,” admits Mikeh George. “But massages are not just a luxury, they are a health benefit.”
Mikeh speaks from experience. As a middle school teacher at Lovonya DeJean in Richmond, California, and a certified massage therapist, she knows the current physical stress of distance learning.
For Mikeh, the key culprit is the long periods of sitting and staring at a computer screen to teach. “In distance learning you are just sitting at your desk for a long time. In the classroom, you would get up and move around.” Although many professions may be considered “desk jobs,” those workplaces generally offer ergonomically correct desks and chairs. …
The national election occurs in less than a month. News of the cancelled debate may have indicated the end of voter awareness for some, however for many local organizations there is still a need to ensure voters enact their right to vote.
That is exactly the goal and mission of We Ride We Vote — Oakland. Co-hosted by We Ridin’ Black and The Cycle Addix_2020, the event gathered Black riders from across Oakland to pedal 25 miles through the city to increase awareness and register voters. …
There is a popular saying that teachers are martyrs.
They willingly sacrifice their bodies for learning.
What about now?
Should teachers willingly pay the cost of their body to be effective distance learning educators?
While the current focus has solely been on the risks of Covid-19 and the impact of teachers’ deaths from the virus, equal concern needs to be placed on the risk of permanent injury from the physical work of distance learning.
Two weeks ago, my large right shoulder muscle was so tight that I could not hold up my right hand. Like many other educators, I do not have the appropriate workspace. My kitchen table is too high; my desk chair is too low. I looked into purchasing a standing desk — too expensive. I found an affordable table stand — all sold out. …
Labor day is the beginning of the long haul.
Veteran and novice educators alike brace for this time of year.
It is the 12 weeks of teaching that occur without a break — unless you are teaching at one of the few year round schools.
The 12 weeks bring a range of emotions and joy is one that is the hardest to grasp.
That is true for “normal” school years. As a teacher educator, during this time I always lead a mini-lesson on making a schedule.
The teacher candidates would scoff when I shared that I held Thursday nights for ABC Primetime or that I never stayed up past 11:30 p.m. …