I do love that a single teacher drives by the homes of students. It seems to be a wonderful, spontaneous way to reach out and I am sure that her students appreciate the gesture. But, when a school wants every teacher in a school to host a parade through their boundaries, it gives me pause. Some of those teachers are overworked and full of anxiety as they try to conduct online instruction. Others might have several children of their own at home. In some cases, they might have a spouse that is still working or, heaven forbid, ill. Others might be seeking a masters or another advanced degree and are figuring our their own school work. The list goes on. If random acts of kindness become mandates do they have the effect we desire?
Some say that COVID-19 has caused American the education system to fall apart. I say, not so. I agree with my colleague Dr. Kenny Varner who suggests that the situation has revealed the existing weaknesses. Many school districts are confronting the realities of the digital divide. Many students have limited or no internet service. Others may not have device that is adequate for the work they are asked to do. Or what if a family does manage to have the internet, but they have more than one child at home? Who uses the device? A friend of mine had four children at home and two of them were supposed to be in a ZOOM class at the same time. What are we doing? I could mention other disparities that I see, but on to Gretchen's post.
In the meantime, If you are lucky enough to have the internet and sufficient devices, be grateful. Read Gretchen's post and then read a book and/or watch a movie. Then in a spare moment, think about a kinder, gentler response to students, teachers, and your family members who may be struggling more that is readily apparent. Let's rest and recover and, once in awhile, ponder the educational inequities that exist. Money will help solve the problem, so let's keep talking about that. In addition, let's acknowledge that we to often assume that we can do things in the digital world easily and with equity. Well, clearly we can't.
Thanks Gretchen. Now, for some fun.
It feels like it was two months--not weeks--ago when, in this post, I listed all of the books I plan to read during the COVID-19 pandemic. Steve noted that my list seemed ambitious, and he’s right. I am an optimist, after all. I mean, what could be a better time to read than now, when all we need to do is stay home? Yet, as I look at that list, I haven’t gotten very far. Life has demanded otherwise: the tender care for out-of-sorts children, the commiseration with disoriented colleagues, the reassurances for current students, the checking in on family members, the frantic setup of a home office, the wiping down of groceries/doorknobs/countertops, the washing of hands, the Zoom meetings with anyone and everyone, the cooking of meals, the baking of cookies, the countless walks with contentedly bewildered dogs, the exposure to the news cycle, the way that life is, and will continue to be--for the foreseeable future. I spend my days relishing the gift of face-to-face time with my four daughters, meals together, and warmer weather while simultaneously looking over my shoulder, aware that COVID-19 will likely affect someone I know, and soon.
With these check-in exercises, I find myself answering “How am I feeling?” with “Good grief, I’m tired!” Fatigue can be a response to the stress of secondary trauma as well as the many life demands I’ve already listed, and it indicates a clear need for self care, especially rest. Antero Garcia reminds us that when a nation is sick, it rests. We do ourselves and others a disservice when we insist on “business as usual” over a necessary siesta. Yet beyond the normal ways of self care--sleep, light exercise, meditation, taking breaks from media coverage--we can indulge our love for young adult literature with some worthwhile YA book-to-screen adaptations. A series or movie marathon, complete with stove-topped popcorn and a comfy blanket, is good for the soul!
The Hate U Give
Starr Carter is constantly switching between two worlds: the poor, mostly black, neighborhood where she lives and the rich, mostly white, prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what's right. The Hate U Give is based on the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller by Angie Thomas. (Amazon Prime)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
In this adaptation of Stephen Chbosky’s impactful coming-of-age novel, an introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world. (Readers, take note: I started Perks in the YMCA parking lot late one morning. By two o’clock in the same parking lot, I finished this incredible book. My viewing of this movie is long overdue.) (Amazon Prime)
Everyone deserves a great love story. But for seventeen-year old Simon Spier it’s a little more complicated: he’s yet to tell his family or friends he’s gay and he doesn’t actually know the identity of the anonymous classmate he’s fallen for online. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, terrifying and life-changing. Based on Becky Albertalli’s acclaimed novel, Love, Simon is a funny and heartfelt coming-of-age story about the thrilling ride of finding yourself and falling in love. (Amazon Prime)
What if you couldn’t touch anything in the outside world? Never breathe in the fresh air, feel the sun warm your face…or kiss the boy next door? Based on the bestselling book by Nicola Yoon, Everything, Everything tells the unlikely love story of Maddy, a smart, curious and imaginative 18-year-old who due to an illness cannot leave the protection of the hermetically sealed environment within her house, and Olly, the boy next door who won’t let that stop them. Maddy is desperate to experience the much more stimulating outside world, and the promise of her first romance. Gazing through windows and talking only through texts, she and Olly form a deep bond that leads them to risk everything to be together…even if it means losing everything. (Amazon Prime)
Dumplin’ follows an outspoken plus-sized teenage girl named Willowdean, who’s known as Will to her friends and Dumplin’ to her mother, a former beauty queen who now runs the local Miss Teen Blue Bonnet pageant. In her small Texas town, Will confidently ignores comments about her weight and listens to Dolly Parton songs obsessively. But when she decides to enter her mother’s pageant in protest, her bold move encourages other contestants to follow in her footsteps, redefining the town’s traditions in the process. (Netflix)
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (#1 and #2)
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once? Lara Jean Song Covey’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control when the love letters for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all– are mysteriously mailed out. This adaptation is from New York Times Bestselling Author, Jenny Han. (Netflix)
Looking for Alaska
The Looking For Alaska series, based on the best-selling John Green novel of the same name, centers around teenager Miles “Pudge” Halter (Charlie Plummer), as he enrolls in boarding school to try to gain a deeper perspective on life. He falls in love with Alaska Young (Kristine Froseth), and finds a group of loyal friends. But after an unexpected tragedy, Miles and his close friends attempt to make sense of what they’ve been through. (Hulu)
All the Bright Places
Dealing with the loss of her sister, introverted Violet Markey (Elle Fanning) rediscovers passion for living when she meets the eccentric and unpredictable Theodore Finch (Justice Smith). Based on the internationally bestselling novel by Jennifer Niven. (Netflix)
Stargirl is a tender and offbeat coming-of-age story based on Jerry Spinelli’s critically-acclaimed, New York Times’ best-selling young adult novel about an unassuming high schooler who finds himself inexplicably drawn to the free-spirited new girl, whose unconventional ways change how they see themselves…and their world. (Disney+)