“Alright scholars, go ahead and open up your packets,” I said.
“Wait, main idea again? I thought we did this one last week,” Tori asked as she flipped through the stapled packet of test prep passages in front of her.
“We did,” I explained, “but the results from last week’s quiz showed that we haven’t quite achieved mastery yet.” Fifteen pairs of eyes rolled synchronously. “Where’s that urgency and enthusiasm I’m used to from my favorite scholars? Make sure your pencil is ready and let’s go!” …
Content Warning: brief mention of child abuse and suicidal ideation
It’s 315 AM and meaningful sleep continues to evade me. I turn on the computer and chug some coffee, shielding my eyes from the piercing light of dual computer monitors coming online. Fueled by muscle memory and a fresh injection of caffeine, I click open my email and find the usual: a handful of junk emails from publishing houses, that morning’s Covid screener, and a message from Angelika.
I had a feeling she might have sent me something over the weekend. We’d been emailing each other sporadically for a few…
“THE NEXT TIME THERE’S A SCHOOL SHOOTING, WE WON’T FORGET YOU ALL WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR IT”
The man hunches over the microphone and roars at the school board. He stabs at the air with his index finger as he shouts, punctuating every third or fourth word with a violent thrust.
Spent, he marches back to his seat only to be replaced by a similar looking white man in a madras shirt.
“SO I GUESS NEXT TIME THERE’S AN ACTIVE SHOOTER IN A SCHOOL YOU WON’T NEED THE POLICE TO COME SAVE YOU?”
One after another, folks from the community rush…
What is admin planning to do about the abysmally low teacher morale?
The sentence glared out at me from behind my dusty screen, daring me to send it into the chat. The grade level meeting was wrapping up so it was now or never. My finger hesitated over the dark blue arrow icon. I re-read the sentence for the fiftieth time and hit “Send.”
It appeared in the chat box. Just sort of hanging there.
“Am I missing anything else from the chat?” a voice droned. The normal stream of questions and comments had crawled to a standstill, meaning there…
The email hits my inbox at 3:03 PM.
Contained within the superintendent’s weekly update are the dates students and teachers will be returning to school buildings. Nevermind that fewer than 50% of teachers have been fully vaccinated. No worries about the countless accommodation requests from teachers that remain ignored and unfulfilled. Or how the efficacy of our school’s HVAC systems remain shrouded behind cloaks of technical language and administrative prevarication.
All that matters is getting bodies into buildings.
The email erases everything. The brief solidarity built up among teachers over these last few months. The speeches to the school board…
I had to get out of the house immediately. There was no time to stretch or properly warm-up. Anxiety had hijacked my brain, shooting lava through my central nervous system. I laced up my running shoes, tightened the drawstring on my Cookie Monster pajama pants, and bolted for the door. I squinted from the afternoon sun as my fingers fumbled to find the right song on my phone. Before long my feet were pounding out a fevered beat against the pavement.
Normally I run in the morning. No one is out and it’s dark and everything is quiet. My mind…
“Can we talk to u after school today? The school keeps calling our parents to tell them we’re gonna have to transfer to another school if we don’t get our grades up. Is that legal? Can the school do that?”
It’s the end of first period. Roberto and his friends have stuck around to talk.
“Yep,” I respond to the screen. “I should be able to do that. I’ll call y’all into office hours after 8th period. Sound good?”
Meeting with these kids will be easy, I think. …
What these kids need is some accountability. Some real consequences so they know we mean business. They’re all just sitting there playing video games and screwing around. They log into the meetings, mute their mic, turn off their camera, and go play on their phones or something. It’s a pandemic! It’s not like they have anything else to do.
Dear colleagues who regularly spew this sort of shit: Stop it. We get it; you’re the hardest teacher here. You wear the disdain of your students like a badge of honor.
I wish I could say I didn’t understand you. That…
Dear School Board,
Thank you for taking the time to listen to what I have to say.
I remain emphatic in my belief that schools should remain virtual. But that isn’t what I’ll focus on tonight. Instead I want to discuss a claim that has been central to the back-to-school bloc: the concept of “learning loss.” I will attempt to illustrate how this concept cloaks white entitlement and selfish individualism underneath a friendly veneer of pseudo-concern and paternalism.
Learning loss is the idea that today’s kids are “falling behind in the global marketplace” or even cognitively regressing because of virtual…
It’s 2:48 PM and I’m scrubbing sippy cups at a desperate pace. Dishwater pools around my bare feet. Before I know what’s happening, tears are forcing their way out from behind my eyeballs. I cradle my head in my hands and give in to the convulsion that’s been demanding to be felt all day. I crumple onto the sink counter and gasp for air. The breakdown is short. Fifteen seconds later, I wipe my tears off on my new carpal tunnel brace and return to the pile of spent milk bottles.
Out of my earpods drone the disembodied voices of…
Closer than you think.