Twenty years ago
We experienced trauma
Covid brought some more
To people saying
“We came together back then”
What have you done now?
Twenty years ago
We experienced trauma
Covid brought some more
To people saying
“We came together back then”
What have you done now?
Shenanigans are abounding, so you may have missed the fact that yesterday, September 8, Virginia took down a giant statue of Robert E. Lee. This is actually a huge moment, even though it may have reignited your sister’s boyfriend, Deuce, and his comments on how crazy the liberal agenda is getting. So, if you happen to find yourself arguing on the end of a facebook page…let me help you out.
You see…monuments, are not history. Monuments are statements, often statements about power. And a Robert E. Lee statue in the middle of Virginia was a statement of white supremacy. Full. Stop.
In 1890 Virginia erected this massive statue of Robert E. Lee on what would become known as “monument avenue,” which featured a bunch of other confederate statues too. That year, 1890, is actually quite important to the story. By 1890, Reconstruction was over, and Jim Crow was beginning. Put simply, Jim Crow was racial segregation and white supremacy codified into law. In fact, a spike of Confederate monuments erected throughout the nation occurred between 1890 and 1920.
There were a lot of groups that funded and organized these monuments, but the Daughters of the Confederacy were one of the most prolific funders and organizers, and I also blame them for our current rhetoric regarding history in the classroom. Like, legit, they just lied about the Civil War and slavery and made it curriculum and history teachers still have to fight the general public about it to this day….
But I digress.
Confederate monuments (and honestly monuments in general) are not history, and we are not erasing history by bringing them down. Instead, we are reckoning with history. I’ve talked before about how history is simply a change, or lack of change, over time.
But, in the situation of Confederate monuments, it was a digression. The south erected monuments of Confederate leaders as a huge power play, a scare tactic if you will. These monuments were large, powerful, visible reminders that the south wanted (and codified) a white supremacist social hierarchy. Monuments were put up specifically to reinforce that hierarchy, and history was changed to fit a particular political narrative, that of the “lost cause“. Which, not coincidentally, also took hold in the 1890’s (remember I told you that date was important!).
So, if you happen to be in a fight with your crazy Aunt on facebook, or your sister’s boyfriend Deuce, have them consider these questions; what was the argument of that monument? What is the importance? What is the “ok…so what?” part of that monument? Is it really worth keeping up? Or, as is often the case, does the harm perpetuated by that monument outweigh everything else?
Because confederate monuments, they are about white supremacy, and they should all be removed. They aren’t history. If you want history, check out The American Yawp, an open source history textbook. BOOM, history done by historians! Wow!
Next, I hope Stone Mountain gets erased.
Y’all. Being a teacher is hard work.
In one day you have to manage 30-200 (depending on grade) little humans and each one of them has a different need. Not only do you have to manage content for each of their needs (some kids are lower than others, and some kids way higher – so content can’t be one size fits all, there has to be allowance on either spectrum), you have to manage their space.
What I mean by that is you can’t sit Jessica next to Tiffany because they are mortal enemies/best friends forever and they will make your life a living hell if they are next to one another. Except you don’t necessarily know that so your first month is hell until you figure it out.
And, in the midst of this…you get one 45 minute prep period, to make all your content, collaborate with other teachers, look at seating charts, contact parents, put your grades in, create copies, create power points etc.
Some of you may be lucky. Maybe you get more than one prep (I don’t). Maybe you get before and after school too (I don’t). Maybe you get Fridays (I don’t).
Maybe, like me…you don’t.
Recently, when fellow teachers and I attempted to solve our problem of literally no time to breathe we were told that we could just be handed a bad curriculum and go off of that. The fact that we were choosing to innovate was really the problem.
I want to be clear, it was not meant as an unkind thing. It was meant as an “you are all so awesome though, of course you want your stuff to be great, which is why you spend personal time on it.”
Still, it rankled me the wrong way. You see, teachers should be innovators. In fact, it’s not just a *should* it’s a required aspect of our job. We must have a certain number of continuing education hours, all of which are supposed to help us become better teachers.
Or, for a better phrase, become better at innovating within the classroom.
Now, I understand that administrators must balance the needs of the school in its entirety, and the needs of the individual teachers. But…we are being asked to do too much, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Some of you haters may say “bUt wHaT aBoUt SuMmEr?!” And to you, I say fuck you John, in the summer we’re attending the education classes required for our jobs, or working a second job to pay the bills.
So…what the point? Well, if you’re admin, consider asking yourself if you actually want innovation at your school. I feel positive the answer is yes. Now, ask if you have provided teachers enough time to be innovative.
You probably think you do. However, I challenge that you ask yourself if there’s a culture within the school of pressuring teachers to work outside of their contract hours. Do you say things like “this is just what we do”, “this is the job”, or “this is why we pay you”?
If the answer is yes then a radical shift must be made in the culture of your school. Teachers can’t innovate without time to do so. Teachers can’t be good employees without having the time to actually do their fucking job. And in the midst of the pandemic, everyone is realizing how incredibly important their own time is to them.
So don’t be dumb, give teachers time and allow them to innovate.
Hands down the best show on television right now is Ted Lasso. A fun, feel good show about a football (soccer) coach who gets into the minds and hearts of the players. If you haven’t watched it, or want to know more about it, check out here.
I fully believe that watching this show has made me a better teacher. Ted has made me truly think about how I deal with each student and coworker. He’s taught me to value myself and my team, and he’s taught me that even the brightest lights sometimes go through dark times. I really can’t put into words what Ted Lasso has done for my personal life, my career, and…well…my psyche during the pandemic.
I even made a believe sign to hang up in my classroom (see above)
I am sure that if you are anywhere in the United States you’ve run across a variety of teachers. I’ve already made too many posts about how teachers get the short end of the stick constantly. We aren’t paid well enough, we aren’t funded, we are held to high expectations, we must continually go through trainings, and at the end of the day, society doesn’t love us.
But also…teachers are leaders in the community…like Ted.
I’m regretful to say that there are a number of teachers (within my school even) who refuse to vaccinate or wear a mask. I’m also regretful to say that teachers also took drugs made for animals to prevent/cure covid.
Here’s the thing friends, as teachers we are leaders. Our communities may not love us, may not value us, and like Ted – we may be called wankers by our communities. Yet, we should still be thoughtful in our approach to them. We should do the correct research, not facebook research, actual research, when we aren’t sure about something. Like…IDK…if your doctor says you shouldn’t take a drug made for animals then maybe you shouldn’t do it. Your sisters boyfriend doesn’t know better than your doctor, and honestly, as a teacher you should know better than that.
So, you’ve figured where this is headed. I’m positive that if Ted Lasso were living during this pandemic he’d get vaccinated, and still wear a mask. Why? Because it protects his community.
Do the same. Be leaders. Be like Ted. Bravely or stupidly go out into the community and be people that our students, our parents, our co-workers, and our nation can’t help but root for.
And fucking watch Ted Lasso.
Greed is the Reason
Outcome of the War.
Is affecting the school kids
But masks are outlawed
Teachers are tired
Nurses are quitting their jobs
Wear a fucking mask.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what teaching during a pandemic is like…especially from people who think teachers are either A: Amazing or B: Lazy. There’s generally no in between. Questions range from “What happens if a kid sneezes?” to “Where do you eat?” to “What do you do if a kid forgets/doesn’t wear/won’t wear their mask?” So, I thought I’d take a post, and walk you through my day.
A few notes. I teach middle school, which is different than Elementary. I’m also in a state that has banned mask mandates, so I can’t require kids wear a mask (though I can ask them).
Alright, let’s begin.
7:30: I arrive at school, coffee in hand. Inevitably someone is already there using the copier.
7:45: I need to print a change to the seating chart. The copier is already jammed.
8:00: Kids arrive for breakfast. They eat in the rooms and read. Those who wear masks replace masks after eating with no prompt from me (these kids are rockstars).
8:30-11:00: First three classes If you’re talking to your conservative friends, they probably think I’m teaching leftist propaganda. I’m not. I just teach history.
Some things that may happen in the class:
Lunch. It’s in the cafeteria. Kids eat, clean up, and go outside. Many of them replace their masks after eating, and even keep them on outside. They really are pretty amazing humans.
11:40-2:45: Next three classes. After lunch is a whole different ballgame. Some things that happen after lunch:
Prep: The copier is probably jammed again.
A lot has been said about masks and socializing. I am here to tell you, masks are not a problem when it comes to middle schoolers making and keeping friends. These students will talk to you all the time. They will talk to their friends all the time. They get crushes, date, and break up. ALL. THE. TIME. Masks are not hindering their socializing in anyway.
Why is this important?
Recently, school…and what happens in schools… has been super politicized, but the real story is much more boring. Kids know what they need to do to keep their community safe. They don’t argue, they don’t fight back. Sure, sometimes they’re defiant, but not about masks. They roll their eyes when I ask them to spit out their gum (that I still catch even with a mask on).
Bottom line? Teaching during a pandemic is difficult. I’m, currently, very nervous for the health of my students, and I think that our elected officials have blood on their hands for banning mask mandates. But…it’s not the students. They are amazing.
Teachers do not wake up looking to indoctrinate your children. We wake up hoping that we can stay healthy, and praying that we can keep your kids healthy.
We also wake up with the absolute knowledge that today, the copier will jam when you need it most.
With everything going on, you may have missed the IPCC report that was recently published. If you don’t know (and you probably don’t) the IPCC stands for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. According to their website, the IPCC “is the United Nations Body for assessing the science relating to climate change.” You can check them out here.
The IPCC report has determined that climate change has been “unequivocally” caused by humans, and is impacting quite literally every “corner of the planet.” The report indicates that we are barreling toward that 1.5 degree of additional heat, that we will likely reach this level by 2030, and that we are currently on track to heat up by 3 degrees by the end of the century. In fact, to stop warming before the 1.5 degree mark is nearly impossible based on our carbon output.
So, on top of the rest of your existential dread, let me give you an idea of what this means. If we don’t do a shit ton of things (and by we I mean our governments) we’ll surupass that 1.5 degree marker, and hit 2 degrees of warming. That means, among other things, that ecosystems will disappear in 13% of the world. And, if we don’t really do anything, and we hit that 3 degrees of warming … well…that would result in “catastrophe”. That 1.5 – 2 degree range will already result in flooding, droughts, the suffocation of the oceans, famine…the list goes on. So…not super great.
To stop ourselves before absolute climate catastrophe the report states that “immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions” would need to be made to our emissions output. Additionally, the report states that “We can no longer assume that citizens of more affluent and secure countries like Canada, Germany, Japan and the US will be able to ride-out the worst excesses of a rapidly destabilizing climate.”
I’ve already written about how our forests are burning, our sea life is dying, and Climate Refugees are on the rise. This is no longer something we can turn a blind eye to.
But what can you do? I mean, let’s be honest, if you do everything in your power to reduce your carbon footprint, it will not stop the change that it coming. It will take mobilization on a massive scale to effect change. It will take everyone pulling together for a common cause, trusting in science, and finding solutions that help remove us humans from the brink of catastrophe.
We’ve seen how well we can do that since 2020….too soon?I
Especially in the midst of the pandemic where we seem to take one step forward and about 100 steps back, it’s hard to be optimistic that anything will actually change. That being said, you also can’t throw your hands up and say “well, I’m not going to make any changes to my personal behavior or habits because catastrophe is inevitable.” No, it’s not inevitable, that’s the point. We can make choices that will get us out of this, becoming complacent won’t help us create change.
So, yes, you should do everything you can do to reduce your personal carbon footprint. But, you should also vote!! VOTE IN EVERY ELECTION, LOCAL AND FEDERAL! Local elections, state elections, federal elections – who are the people in power that will enact climate policies? Vote for them.
It’s a shit solution, but it’s the one we have. Like minded people have to mobilize on a massive scale to elect politicians who will enact smart climate policies. And, we have to hold them accountable to those promises.
That’s the only way.
My very favorite person in the world is the person who, with no training and very little history knowledge, truly believes they know what the Founding Fathers would have done. They know in their heart of hearts that the FF’s definitely would have seen the world according to thier, 21st century view point.
If you haven’t caught on I’m being sarcastic. I hate those people. Your sisters boyfriend Deuce is one of those people.
With schools opening or about to open, the rhetoric about founding fathers, vaccines, masks, and the “spirit of 1776” is getting pretty heated. So, I thought I’d take a moment to really talk about what a Founding Father…arguably the Founding Father really did do when faced with a consequential decision.
Let me set the scene. It’s 1777, Georgie has just taken a minor victory at the Battle of Princeton. His Continental Army, however, is sick and dying, in fact 90% are dying from disease, with small pox being a big killer.
Necessity not only authorizes but seems to require the measure, for should the disorder infect the Army . . . we should have more to dread from it, than from the Sword of the EnemyGeorge Washington
Most of the men in the Continental Army had not been exposed to smallpox. But, it’s a war, men coming together from all over the country, along with British and German soldiers, opened the door for disease to spread, the army being non-immunes and all. Bowing to circumstances, George Washington (unlike our own politicians) showed leadership. In February of 1777 he wrote to Congress informing them of his mass inoculation plan, and managed to vaccinate up to 2/3rds of the Continental Army.
Initially GW did not want to mandate vaccination. He was incredibly aware of the significance of vaccination and immunity, but immunizing the army would take time, and would weaken his forces, so he didn’t initially mandate it. However, when Small Pox became a big problem for his troops, GW understood that larger measures would have to be taken. His decision to inoculate most of the Continental Army (along with their immunity to malaria, which the British soldiers did not share) was likely critical to winning the Revolutionary War, and helped build this country into a place full of toxic individuality.
So much rhetoric floats around about what the Founding Fathers meant, or what they would have done. Except, here, we actually have data from history. We are not guessing at what George Washington thought. We can look at his actions, and see what he did.
He mandated vaccination. He built hospitals, and he got the army immunized. Why? Because his people were dying, and he was losing a war.
What’s also important is that he set a precedent for what leaders should do in the midst of a pandemic. Maybe we should follow in his example. I can’t say it’s what he would have wanted…but I can tell you it’s what he did, which I think is much more powerful.
Citations: https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/GW&smallpoxinoculation.html and https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/washington-inoculates-army with some Mosquito Empires by J.R. Mcneill thrown in.
You may have been appraised by your sister’s boyfriend Deuce that the CDC updated their masking guidance. Now – likely, Deuce has elevated this to some sort of government overreach where nobody has individual rights and everyone is some drone of the government machine. But really, the CDC has simply recommended that, even if you’re vaccinated, you wear a mask inside. They’ve also recommended that K-12 schools still employ masking for the upcoming school year. Language matters, and there are no “requirements” as of yet.
Recommendations do not immediately equal requirements. Nonetheless, people went BONKERS, none more so than the parents that don’t want their kids masking in the Fall.
Being a teacher is a lot like being a mother. Everyone has an opinion, and you’re never doing anything right – ever. This holds true for masks, everyone has an opinion, and the most vocal of these people are parents and legislatures who did very little to study the pandemic in children. They are also people who have never taught in a classroom. I’m a teacher, I lived in a state where we re-opened last August, and I taught middle school for an entire year in a mask. Let me tell you what it’s really like.
We opened in August of last year, and remained open the entire school year. My school never closed because of outbreaks, my son’s school (a high school) had to close multiple times. I’m not an expert, but I believe my school didn’t close because younger children didn’t get tested the same way adults and sports ball players got tested.
You see, this is how it would start: A student comes to school looking a bit peakish. I’d tell them “go get your temperature taken.” They would. They come back – oh they’re fine, no clinical fever. Ok, cool, but they’re still coughing so I make sure they wear their mask correctly. They go home, whatever.
That sick student would then just disappear for a few days. Eventually, I’d get an email saying “so and so’s family has Covid so they have to quarantine.” Ok…but that student never got tested, and this is the important part. Kids were not getting tested. Parents were. Why the disparity? I’m not sure, but I’d guess it has to do with accessing the Covid benefits given by the state if they had to miss work.
Because the student was not a positive case, only presumptive positive, it didn’t count for school closure. A few days later, the kid who sat next to that student disappears. Their family got Covid.
Is it spread or coincidence? I genuinely don’t know. However, this is my anecdotal evidence. The same thing happened time and time again all year…with masking in place.
States, including mine, have made it illegal to require masks in school. With the Delta variant, and children under twelve ineligible for the vaccine, kids will get sick! The virus will not only spread in schools, with who knows what long term effects, the virus will spread in families. This is not fear mongering, it’s absolute truth. Virus’s spread and they will spread faster and easier with no masks. No masks combined with an entire building full of non-immunes…well K-12 schools are basically opening up a Covid Buffet.
A lot of anti-maskers drum the tired out refrain of “let the parents decide.” They do this anytime they’re uncomfortable with something; history, sex-ed, you name it. Here’s the problem with that, those parents are deciding the health of me, my kid, and my community, and they are throwing it in the trash. Generally, they are not medical experts, weighing the scientific facts and making the best choice for their children. They are people with strong beliefs who are re-acting to the stew of misinformation that right wing television personalities are stirring.
And look, I’m not here to bash your TV choices (though if you’re not watching Ted Lasso I don’t know what you’re doing with your life) but, when you get all your masking information from Tucker Carlson, you don’t get to decide my health outcomes. Experts should do that. Not legislatures, not parents, not even teachers. Experts. If experts (like, IDK the CDC) recommend that we should wear masks in schools – then we should.
So what do you do? What if you’re in a state, like me, where it’s illegal for districts to require masking? Well, show up to your board meetings, for one, because the Anti-Maskers will. Two, send your kid to school in a mask, a strong one if you can get it. Three, if you haven’t been vaccinated, and somehow you’re reading this article and have been persuaded by it, then get vaccinated. Four, get your kids vaccinated if you can. Five, troll your favorite Senator whom you love to hate.
As for me? My four kids are all vaccinated, and they will all be wearing a mask to school. I will also wear a mask to teach. It is, quite literally, the least we can do to help our own global community.