And, How Are You Today?


One of my daily class norms so far with teaching virtually this crazy school year, has been very old school: I say ‘hello’ and call roll. By this time in a usual school year, I know my students enough to take attendance by simply looking over my classroom and double checking a seating chart (student selected) if I’m not sure whether someone is actually absent. However, from Day 1 of Remote Learning, I have been spending more than 5 minutes each day, going through my whole attendance roster for each class, to check everyone in. I can see the names of my students on Google Meets–and we even get a print out summary of the amount of time everyone is signed in following each class–so this is something I don’t have to do.

However, I’m not just taking attendance. I’m taking the time to greet all of my students individually and checking in to see how each one is doing. This practice feels so old fashioned, and in our current era of education, where bell to bell management of time and data collection is the ultimate goal, so wasteful of time; however, I will keep doing it, because I am connecting to my students in a way that I consider invaluable.

For the most part, my high school students share very little about themselves during class time. They have learned how to mute and block videos of themselves and so unlike many elementary school students, my students are generally very quiet, especially during discussions.

Many are engaged in my assignments where often they are given opportunities to express themselves and share. However, my beginning of class check-ins are often my only live opportunity to connect to each student individually in class. And from this practice, I have learned a lot and begun to build community. I know my students are exhausted as a whole with the amount of time they are spending on screens, but I know they are engaged to the best of their ability. I am learning who is having tech issues, who is in comfortable in their remote learning environment, who is generally positive, and who is feeling sick on a specific day. I am building trust and students are becoming comfortable with me. I’ve also met babies, younger siblings and cousins, and even a pet parrot!

What is surprising, is that I am actually able to connect with my students in a way I’m not able to when we are in person and find that this building of trust and comfort is a two-way street. In a traditional year, we usually don’t have time for the type of dialogs where I share many personal things or sharing what is going on at home with me. Not that I am over-personal, but students are invited into my space, which is our office and is a comfortable space (especially since they only see the clean and organized part!) and they see this space every day. They have met our dogs and some have even caught glimpses of my husband. They know I have a lot of books–and that if I am working from our front room, there are a ton of plants around.

And what is very cool, is that many students, after I take their attendance and ask “How are you doing?” or “How are you today?” they turn it around and ask the same of me.

So, how are things going in my world? Why thank you for asking!

Things as a whole are definitely better than three weeks ago when I wrote about my reactions to all of the triggers going off  which were putting me in to a negative space.

The big thing is that Terry and I were able to get away (something we sure haven’t been able to do much of during this time of COVID) for the weekend of Indigenous People’s Day and headed up to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the Monastery that Terry’s uncle co-founded more than 35 years ago on the shores of Lake Superior. It was a much needed retreat and break from all of this technology that I am exposed to on a daily basis these days. And while the fall colors had already peaked in the UP, it was still gorgeous!

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In August, out of the blue, I was invited by writer Julia Barnicle at Inviting Ease and Flow into Everyday Life to contribute to an ebook compilation she was putting together about lessons writers have learned this year from living full lives during the COVID lockdown.  I consolidated two of my blog posts from the early summer and sent her the new piece. A few weeks ago, in the midst of all of the craziness of this new school year, I received word from Julia that she had finished her collection!

I suppose that means that I am now officially published!

Lessons from Lockdown ebook

Lessons from Lockdown is a compilation of 22 essays – contributed by artists, writers, coaches, and creatives from various backgrounds around the world – about finding Ease in uncertain times, and discovering positive life lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Ali Roe | Alison Coates | Carolyn Thomas | Catherine Saunders | Dakota Duncan | Danielle Clarke | Eilidh Horder | Gill Thakray | Helen Rebello | Ilene Kaminsky | JoAnn Baldwin-Glenn | Julia Barnickle | Julia Weisenberger | Kassi Martin | Louise Gallagher | Melina Abbott | Nancy Seibel | Naomi Brook | Patty Bechtold | Philippa Ramsden | Rose Roberts | Shalagh Hogan

All profits from the sale of the ebook will be donated to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, to help revolutionise cancer treatment and continue to pioneer new ways to save or improve the lives of patients with cancer, both at The Royal Marsden in the UK, and across the world.

[A printed version of the book will be available later in 2020]

In Other News:

•My hypothyroidism–which I was diagnosed with 2 years ago–is finally under control with my Levothyroxine. I’m finally able to lose weight again! Having gained over 15 pounds in 2018 was incredibly frustrating–and so was not being able to lose that extra weight!!! Another positive, is that I don’t feel that extreme tiredness I was feeling so often during that first year (although virtual teaching has resulted in a whole new kind of exhaustion!!!).

•I can’t believe that I have now coached 32 weeks of virtual indoor rowing practices for Recovery on Water! I’m going to take a short recess from those responsibilities for the next month or so, just to catch my breath a bit, but super excited that ROW is still going strong throughout the pandemic and was able to pivot so effectively in their programming.

•Zora has improved a great deal from her initial bout with Vestibular Disease at the end of August, but now we are struggling with her sleeping through the night! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

•Another positive is that I had my annual mammogram on Monday and it was all clear!!! Can’t believe that December 1st will make 9 years since I was diagnosed…

And finally, I want to turn this post back around and ask y’all:
How are YOU doing today?

4 thoughts on “And, How Are You Today?

  1. I’m so happy to read your post. Congratulations on getting published! That is so exciting. I’m glad you have figured out a way to really connect to your students–I had no doubt you would. So glad to hear about your clear mammogram and that your hypothyroidism is under control! Awesome! As for the not sleeping through the night–sorry, I can’t help. My cat Rumble, who turns 19 next month, may be developing hyperthyroidism and wakes me once or twice each night to eat. It’s like having a baby again. But she’s so dang cute, I just wake up, feed her, and go back to bed. So I feel your pain! Hang in there! XOX. P.S. We are all fine here, thanks for asking! Jimmy can now attend high school football practice in person 3x week (wearing a mask, keeping 6ft from the others in his cohort, and not practicing throwing or catching since they can’t touch each other’s stuff!). It’s not much, but we’ll take it!

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  2. Pingback: Weekly Round-Up | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  3. So glad to hear about Zora….and your mammogram!!! I can’t believe that it has been 9 years!

    I have only done one zoom classroom guidance. Yup, I had to get them to respond on the chat and call on the most talkative latinos to un mute themselves to talk….about food! Nothing academic! Good gravy!

    I would like this week to be over with. You know why.

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