Posted in ebb & flow, education

Pandemic teaching, two more bits

Two things that popped up this week.

First, I realized that the majority of my students are new to me this year, and I have never seen their faces. I don’t know what their noses look like. I see their eyes and their hair and that’s all. Many of them, if they showed up to online lessons, left their cameras muted.

It’s weird.

Also, it’s nearly impossible to read the room. I’m reasonably good at seeing interest, enthusiasm, and so on in the kids, especially if we’re trying something new or we’re working our way through something difficult. Now? I have to ask. And I do, and I hope to get honest answers.


Posted in about me, motivation

Heat, where have you been?

Posts have been sparse here for a while, and I wanted to check in and give an update on what’s going on over here.

In early August, I joined an Akimbo workshop (put on by Seth Godin) called The Creative’s Workshop. I’ve been writing there daily, which I know doesn’t provide you with anything, but what’s coming from it is a book!

Finally, I’m writing the book I’ve talked about writing for a decade.

The community there is so supportive. Lots of vulnerability. Lots of art-in-progress. Not everyone doing art in traditional senses (writing, painting, music)—people revamping their businesses and websites and all sorts of things.

It’s so interesting, in addition to what I’m getting out of it directly for my work.

But time and energy are both finite, and that plus work plus parenting plus the usual stuff has taken the bulk of my time.

Photography has mostly been put on hold, though I do try to get out and shoot something once a week to have photos on Sundays to share. (I decided not to post on weeks when I don’t have photos.) I didn’t get out last week (hence, nothing on Sunday) but did make a little bit of time to watch another tutorial. I’m several months behind now on that course, but it’s self-paced, and I’m good with letting that go to take advantage of this opportunity.

I’m thinking about taking pictures to include in the book, but really, I need to get the thing written before I tangent to some other sparkly idea.

A year ago, I ended a year of blogging daily. In this workshop, I’ve gotten back to writing daily. When the book is written, I plan to get back here and share daily again. It’s a good habit. It’s a difficult habit, but it’s good and I (mostly) enjoy it.

In the mean time, I have 87 single-spaced pages written and notes for many more.

Thanks for hanging around!

And while I don’t get kickbacks (as far as I know—I’ll edit this if info changes when the workshop ends), I definitely recommend catching this workshop the next time it comes around, if you’re looking to put more out into the world.

Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 11Oct20

We went camping at Roper Lake State Park for a few days. It’s a small park in southeastern Arizona.

Not much elevation, so it was not much of a relief from the temps at home (maybe a five-degree difference), but we had some shade in our campsite and the overnight weather was perfect for sleeping. Left the rain fly off the tent, looked at the stars, and slept in cool air.

This place is known for having a large variety of birds. Among others, we saw quail, roadrunners, and ducks.

The lake was small and sufficient. (I imagine at other times of year and/or other global health circumstances, it’s much more crowded, but we had the beach to ourselves most of the morning, then had just one other family at the other end.)

The reeds around the perimeter completely cut off field of view to the scrubby desert surrounding the lake. Very effective. We played on the beach a bit and did some kayaking. Fishing is also available; we didn’t.

The ranger warned us on the way in that there are raccoons and to keep all food and trash in our cars when we weren’t eating. We were slow on the first night getting our trash put away, and they took care of it in short order. We didn’t make that mistake again.

The dirt in the campsite combined with water available on site made for fun playing with mud for the younger among us.

On the island in the lake was a seemingly high number of tree stumps, many interesting to look at in their own right.

Around the lake and elsewhere in the park, plenty of other plants, most of them typical to the desert. (The first one here is a mama and her baby.)

And other bits and pieces

On the way home, we stopped in Superior, where there are some old mining bits on display at the visitor’s center.

The rock formations in that area are just stunning.

And the bathrooms were closed. The menfolk found a nearby public restroom that was open.

Fun to have a lot of opportunity!

I think my next lens or accessory will be for macro. I like taking close-up photos, seeing the details in things not usually examined closely. For now, I have plenty of work to do on skills that don’t have anything to do with the gear.

Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 4Oct20

You might have noticed there was no post last week. I hadn’t taken any pictures. I hadn’t done any learning. I had nothin’.

I’m happy to have pulled out the camera this week and have some shots to share with you!

My son was going swimming and wanted me to take some pictures. He had a head full of ideas, and when he finished sharing them all, he declared, “Now let’s make this dream a reality!” before running off to put his swimsuit on.

Here’s some of what we ended up with:

Some other things hanging around the area where I was shooting from:

The hibiscus has been blooming like crazy and while he was drying off, I took some shots.

A flower that was no longer thriving was still beautiful. I have three photos; the biggest difference between them is brightness. I can’t decide which I like best.

And when we came back in the house, The Kid said, “Mom! Do you still have out the Nikon? You have to take a picture of this! Look! With the reflection, it makes a heart!”

Posted in ebb & flow, education, follow-up, physical health, thoughtfulness

Reflections on the second week of pandemic teaching

The novelty of wearing a mask has worn off, and more kids are taking them off. I spent a fair amount of time during class this week showing empathy to their discomfort—I don’t like wearing one, either—and explaining why we’re wearing them. They didn’t seem to know. (That could be no one has explained it well. It could be they weren’t listening.)

One student took off his mask to sneeze. “But if I leave it on, the mask will get nasty!” I explained that they can go to the nurse and get a new mask, and take that one home and wash it. They had never considered this.

I also saw the custodian take off his mask, sneeze into his hand, wipe it on his pants, put the mask back on, and continue with his day.

People don’t get it.

One child came at me with “if oxygen to breathe can get through, the corona virus can get through.” Fortunately, I had recently read a bit about this and was able to tell her that the virus is about 200 times bigger. (I think it was actually 250, but 200 was good enough.)

In lighter news, some time this week, I stopped panicking mid-commute as to whether or not I remembered to comb my hair. Having appropriate clothes and combed hair before leaving the house has become a habit again.

We have fall break next week. I suspect the habit will weaken. I’m OK with that.

I used a different lid for my water bottle—one with a straw—and it helped. I realized, though, that part of when I would sip some water was when students had a minute to practice something on their own.

We’re not playing instruments. There’s no minute tucked in to grab a drink. But between classes it’s much easier, and when there are moments here and there, I do take advantage now.

We have a two-part plan in place at one of my schools: we’re playing instruments at home and bucket drumming at school.

Only a few 6th graders were motivated to take their instruments home right away. They started bucket drumming on Wednesday and were excited!

I realized that with masks on and earplugs in, it would be difficult to use voices to communicate, so I looked up a few ASL signs and taught those.

We have a lot of potential with those buckets! I need to come up with a good long-term plan, as I don’t have one yet, but what we were able to do in a couple of days was great.

And parents (or at least most, I assume) are happy that the buckets and drum sticks stay at school. If the kids are drumming at home, it’s been provided at home.

The 5th graders were excited to learn their band instruments, so we took a few days to learn how to open cases, put the instruments together, how to hold them, how to get them back in the case. I put videos for making a sound on their instruments in their Google Classroom where we had class for the first seven weeks of the quarter, with a link to FlipGrid. Half have already sent me a video of them producing a sound on their instrument. They’ll start buckets after break.

And on we go. While I wasn’t scratching and clawing my way to fall break this year, I’m not complaining one bit about having a week off! I’ll always take more time to do other things.