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.

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, follow-up, gifts, meandering, motivation, vulnerability

Hello? Is this thing on?

I like to been seen. So do you. Might be in totally different ways or contexts or audiences, but we all want to be seen, understood.

As a kid, I was introverted and socially anxious, good academically, and eager to please. In elementary school, I more or less spoke when spoken to. I remember clearly getting in trouble for blurting out an answer once in fourth grade, and while I can’t say for sure that’s the only time it happened, it was rare enough that that once sticks out.

I was “seen” by doing my work well on time. A sticker or a pat on the back. Because that’s good enough at that level and that was enough.

As school got harder, I found a niche and a family in performing arts. I was never great at any of it, but I was dependable, and for what we were, that was enough.

And then we all grew up and life went in planned and unplanned ways, and some combination of social struggles (in part because of childhood emotional trauma, in part because we societally don’t value introverts), and “good enough” and “dependable” not being enough to be seen, and choosing a career path (teaching) that’s considered “less than,” and within that choosing a specialization (band) that is constantly fighting for time, students, space, validation, I’ve spent a lot of time feeling … invisible.

All this to say that this is why I have a stormy swirl of emotions regarding birthdays (and now also Mother’s Day).

Because I want to be seen. And if the anniversary of being born is a socially acceptable day to get positive attention, I’ll take it.

But we’re adults and I’ve certainly heard enough times to grow up, that birthdays are for kids (with the possible exception of milestone birthdays, though their importance is pretty random unless you’re becoming eligible or ineligible for something legally).

Birthdays always runs into gifts, and I’ve written about gifts before.

I don’t like obligatory, “I have to have something to give you” gifts. But I love gifts that are thoughtful. A couple of years ago, The Climbing Daddy threw a surprise party. A few people brought gifts: a stainless steel water bottle; a bag for dance shoes; a vegetarian cookbook for backpacking (or camping) and a gift card for REI; a pair of earrings from a friend who always picks out the best earrings. (Others, but that’s enough to make the point.) They are really different things, and they all say HEAT all over them. Having the party in the first place was amazing enough. Gifts that say “I see you, I know you” were icing on the proverbial cake.



Posted in follow-up, mindset, motivation

Another take on stealing creative work

I posted a bit about photographers wanting to use the Grinch for their holiday shoots and was schooled in copyright law in return. With permission, here’s what I was told. (Everything beyond this paragraph is not my writing, but most of it makes sense to me. Also, I learned a lot.) After you read it, let me know what you think.

The main issue I have with copyright is that the protection term is FAR too long.

The original copyright term in the US was 14 years.

After that, things went into the public domain and became part of our culture, free for anyone to use as they wish.

The term length crept up over the years, but even until the 1970s it was 28 years, with a 28-year renewal term if requested.

Then we signed a treaty that bumped it up to life-plus-50-years for individual creators, and 75 years for corporations.

Then, we bumped it up again to life+70 / 95 years.

This past January, works from *1923* entered the public domain.

It was the first time anything had entered the public domain in over 20 years.

Most of the massive expansion of the copyright term was driven by corporate interests, Disney in particular.

Which is even more ironic because Disney has made tens, possibly hundreds of billions of dollars by mining the public domain.

They create very few original characters.

They take from our shared culture, but refuse to give back.

Should I really feel bad about drawing a Disney character without compensation? How much did they compensate the Grimm brothers, or Victor Hugo, or de Villeneuve?

They’ve taken something that originated as part of our culture, popularized their specific version of it, and then charge us for it. They’ve basically monopolized our culture from us and act as gatekeepers to it.

Your specific example was the Grinch.

Dr. Seuss created the Grinch in 1957.

He’s been dead for what, 30 years?

The Grinch is part of our culture now and there’s compelling reason for his estate to continue to be able to profit from it, other than greed.

Lord of the Rings, the same. Tolkien’s been dead longer than I’ve been alive. Why is his 90-year old son still able to tell people they can’t make films of any of Tolkien’s work (aside from The Hobbit and LotR, to which Tolkien sold the film rights when he was alive and his son couldn’t claw them back)?

Copyright is not a law of nature.

It’s a bargain.

In order to promote the progress of science and useful arts, we grant creators a monopoly on their creative work for a limited time, so they can earn a living from it.

This is supposed to incentivize creators to create new work.

We’ve gone well past the balance point between incentive and greed, though.

Nobody is incentivized by receiving royalties from work created by their dead ancestors.

Patents and trademarks, the other main forms of intellectual property protection, are a great contrast, because they haven’t been distorted the same way (although drug companies are working hard on patents).

Patents last for 20 years.

Trademarks don’t have a defined term, but they can be “genericized” and lost.

This is why you can use kleenexes and the xerox.

There’s a balance there.

Which copyright has utterly lost.

I think that mostly ends my rant.