It is now June 2020. I have been teaching third grade for six years, after one year teaching middle school (which was my actual goal) and a couple years teaching regularly - literally almost every day - as a substitute in several school districts.
In March 2013 our home caught fire and our pets perished, our younger son tried to put out the fire when he got home from school, but he was just too late. He was fortunately not badly injured. We lost a lot of mementos and spent a year living away from home while things were cleaned up and then rebuilt.
Our new home is comfortable, a bit larger (with a small garage). We have a new furry companion named Wally. We are down to just one lizard.
For a while our younger son lived with us, but he recently moved out and we are mostly just two old folks in this big house.
Which is at this point in history both good and bad. During the initial stages of the pandemic lockdown it was hard to ask all our kids (both our own, and those who have become family) to stay away. But not having a lot of people in the house was helpful also since both Tom and I needed to work from home.
Teaching from home was a HUGE deal. Not all students were able to benefit from the online materials I prepared. That's okay, I was able to refine my teaching and have a lot more confidence and knowledge about what must be done and what can be let go. This should help immensely for the rest of my teaching career.
Something I mentioned in the last post in my profile was that my hip problems had resolved. Well... they unresolved in a dramatic fashion last summer and I taught all year from a wheelchair. The investigation of what exactly is going on was stalled by the pandemic, and I have yet to go to the orthopedist for a follow-up after an MRI. Long story short, it looks like there is nothing structurally wrong (as usual!) and I am FINALLY starting to experience entire pain-free days. But I still cannot walk very far even with crutches so I have been using the wheelchair whenever we want to walk Wally or go out for shopping.
In addition, the serious allergies and chemical sensitivities have increased in number and severity along with finally getting a tentative diagnosis of celiac (hello, gluten-free life). The celiac diagnosis meant that I was able to get some tests for nutritional deficiencies. With extremely low vitamin D and iron levels the reason for my extreme exhaustion the last two years was clear. Supplementation has allowed me to do a lot more, and enjoy myself again!
Finally, I have been looking for my "next steps" in professional development, and I think I am about ready to commit to a course of study that will allow me to refine my skills based on my interests. I don't need another degree for improving my paycheck, but I think it's time for me to demonstrate my skill and knowledge. My choices are "culturally-responsive" teaching, diving deeper into literacy or numeracy, or focusing on curriculum development and assessment which was my initial area of interest when I went back to school -- I would emphasize materials for distance learning that are developmentally appropriate rather than aligned to "common core" which in my opinion has been a disaster for students in disadvantaged communities. The third choice would naturally pull in the other two, so I am drifting in that direction at the moment. But I won't make any decisions until after the end of the school year and a one-week workshop on teaching writing at the end of this month.
Finally-finally we are in the beginning of a nationwide (and worldwide) awakening to the problem of racism that is endemic in many nations and institutionalized in the United States in laws and expectations from the largest federal agencies to the smallest police force and in educational settings as well. Black Lives do matter. Latinx Lives matter. Asian Lives matter. Gay Lives matter. Immigrant Lives matter. There are so many groups that are disadvantaged right now... but I do believe things are about to change. Black Lives Matter is very much on all our minds right now in the wake of several disturbing deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police forces. Black Lives Matter was just painted on the street leading to the main driveway at the White house in the aftermath of peaceful demonstrators being assaulted by riot police without warning for a photo op. There are a lot of problems right now... and they boil down to embedded abuse of power at multiple levels. I hope that addressing this will result in equity for all. For the first time in the history of this country.f