To say this spring has been a challenging time would be a gross understatement. Having said that, for me, the pandemic has presented me with many unexpected gifts. Here are twenty of them:
20. Seeing My Principal in a Metallica T-Shirt
There are poems about seeing one’s teacher in blue jeans at the grocery store. But how about the principal wearing a Metallica t-shirt during a Zoom meeting?
19. Learning New Technology
Teaching during this time has forced me to learn technology at a rapid rate. My favorite tool, Google MOTE. It allows me to leave voice comments for my students. Super fun!
18. Time with Buck
My dog Buck and I have always been close. Now, he’s literally my buddy. Wherever I go, he goes.
17. No More Brambles
Okay. That’s a lie. It’s not possible to clear our property of all the brambles. But hundreds of them are gone. Once again we can see what we affectionately call, “the big rock” behind our house.
16. House Projects
Sad to say I have clutter issues. However, bit-by-bit, I’m clearing out spaces. One closet taken care of, an unused bathroom to go!
15. Midday Author Visits
Normally, I could never take a writing seminar with another author or offer my own free author Skype visits in the middle of the day. Not so anymore! If I want to take a nonfiction webinar with Kate Messner or do a free Skype visit with another teacher's class, there’s nothing holding me back.
14. Fewer Meals to Cook
Why? Anders and Corbin are each cooking a meal a week. Not only is it less work, but it’s fun to watch them learn and build new skills in the kitchen.
13. Students Sending Love
My friend is an infectious disease epidemiologist for the state. She’s been working twelve-hour-plus days seven days a week. So, when she contacted me and asked me if I could start an organization so that hard-hit nursing homes in the state would receive encouraging letters from students, I banded together with April Jones Prince and Tammy Mulligan to start the organization. Want to send letters? Sign up here.
12. More Contact with Far Away Family and Friends
Funny to think I video conference more now with family than before. It’s not as if we suddenly live farther away from each other than before. But perhaps we realize it’s not a given that we will always be there for one another. Or, how about attending a college friend’s Zoom birthday party? Someone, I hadn’t interacted with in years. Super fun!
11. Helping Lost Women and Children
Mount Wachusett State Park surrounds my house. So, if I’m not at home, you can find me on the trails. You can also find most of Worcester County there as well. Twice in the past week, I’ve helped lost, exhausted women with young, lost, exhausted, hungry children make it back to their cars. It feels so good to help.
10. Online Yoga
My amazing friend Jen Faldetta offers live yoga classes through Facebook Live. I’ve always enjoyed attending her Saturday morning yoga classes, but now I can bask in her positive energy without leaving my house which is an amazing gift. Thank you, Jen!
9. Watching My Students Teach
I’ve seen my students teach other students before in the classroom. But, I don’t get to relish it because I’m always working with a different student noting that the teaching is happening on the side. With Google Meet, when one student asks a technology question, another student can answer it and I can sit back, learn something new and watch the students shine. Super fun!
8. Stronger Team
Our fourth grade team has always worked well together. So, I didn’t think it was possible for us to grow even closer. But that’s exactly what has happened. We support each other through the tears and come up with new ways to help one another out so that there are fewer tears the following week.
7. Midday Reading
If I want to read one of Diana Gabaldon’s novels for pleasure or take notes on Captain Charles Moore and Cassandra Phillips Plastic Ocean during the middle of the day, I can. Heaven!
6. Getting to Know My Students in Different Ways
Seeing inside my students’ homes is super fun. An author’s dream, really. Each one of them a different personality with decorations that reflect who they are. But not only that. Since we’re giving our students so many content and presentation choices, we’re learning so much about learning styles and reading preferences. It’s really eye opening.
5. More Time Outside
I can go outside whenever I want—an early morning walk, a midday stroll, an evening hike. I can also sit outside whenever I want to do that midday reading or just take a moment to give my eyes a break from the screen.
For those of you who know I’m often up by 4 AM in the morning, you may be laughing. But it’s true. Now, I can go back to bed after I write or take a midday nap if I’m falling asleep in front of my computer. Total luxury!
3. Not Commuting
This one is huge for me. I had no idea how huge either. On a good week, I spend nine-and-a-half hours in the car. It feels so good to spend that time in other ways. Plus, when I am in the car, there is hardly anyone on the road. So, it’s a much more pleasant experience to be in the car!
2. Writing Magic
Sometimes writing is magical. Time and the world falls away. Normally, the timer would go off, and I’d have to get ready to go to work. Now, if I’m in the groove, I don’t have to stop. I can ride the wave for as long as it lasts.
1. Time with Anders and Corbin
I stayed home when my boys were young. At times, it was tough, but I know now what an exquisite gift that was. I never thought I would have that much time with them again. Now, here we are. It’s amazing. Sure, they cook and do yard work. But, that’s not the fun stuff. The fun stuff is watching them interact with one another, and with Tom, in ways they’ve never interacted with one another before. And, the incredible opportunity to say "goodnight," "good morning," and "I love you," each and every day. What a gift!
Chalk and Ink
Chalk and Ink is a biweekly podcast that publishes on Fridays throughout the school year. Learn how teachers who write and writers who teach combine craft moves to create outstanding products for their students and readers. Download Chalk and Ink wherever you get your favorite podcasts.