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Entry date: 1-3-2022 - I've Gone Back to Work - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

That expression, “What a difference a day makes,” which I think came from an old song, is haunting me. A day ago I was on vacation and now and I am back in hell.

Overstatement, sure. If there is a hell, this is definitely not it, but it sure does feel like a bad place to be right now. As discussed in the previous blog, I have some feelings about our current pandemic situation and being around a bunch of 7- and 8-year-old children who clearly wish me to die a miserable death of raging headaches and filled lungs is not helping matters. I’ve become a mask nazi if there is such a thing (or if you can use the word “nazi” anymore) and I hate it.

As a teacher, wearing a mask is awful. I teach 2nd grade and the students really do need to see my mouth moving when I talk to help them learn how to form words properly. It puts up such a barrier in the learning process, although being in person and masked is better for many students than being online and wearing pajamas to school. Last year I taught online and, while some kids do thrive in that environment, most do not.

Back to hell.

One of my students, a pretty bright one, made it to the wrong class this morning and nobody realized it until 1:45pm. I put her down as absent, but it wouldn’t have gotten to the parent because when she showed up tardy, she read the pass wrong and ended up in a different class. What that teacher was thinking is beyond me. If a student shows up in my class and is not on my roster, they are getting sent back to the office and pronto.

Who am I to complain, though? We got back from winter break with a bunch of new polices to roll out to a bunch of children who have completely forgotten how to do school. That’s a recipe for success, correct? I’m sure it is the same in just about every school everywhere, but it does where on a person. I typically just choose to smile, tell me fellow teachers to suck it up, and do what I’m told, but now I have a place to bitch and moan about it.

Teaching comes naturally to me, so I’m lucky in that capacity. I’m also pretty good about going with the flow as many of you who are reading this can probably attest to based on personal experiences we’ve shared. The combination of these two things can be tough, at times, and I find myself figuring out ways to circumvent the confounding waves of unnecessary change by learning to improve my approach to helping my students get ready for next year.

That’s my main job, right? Get the little cherubs ready to be someone else’s cherub next year. I also feel somewhat compelled to help them be the best little human they can be and learn how to use sarcasm proficiently. I also do my best to impart that working smarter, not harder, is always better than blindly throwing your all into something without a plan. Hard work is inevitable for us all, at some point, even if that work is just figuring out how to be a master of slack.

The days go by quickly here, which is nice, but sitting here in the quiet aftermath of the first day back does kind of make me long for the days of being a professional guest speaker or even a call center director. I’ve done a few strange jobs in my time and lucked into some great situations, or at very least, have gotten to work with some really great people. If work doesn’t feel like work, most of the time, you’ve got a gift right there. Cherish that shit.

Even though I’m a mask nazi, I think most of my students still love me and understand that I really am trying to keep them safe. Our class has been fortunate, unlike others at our school, and we’ve avoided being quarantined so far. With the new guidelines, I’m guessing that quarantining classes is not happening again anytime soon, but maybe it should?

Maybe we should go back online for a bit if things get out of control? I don’t see it happening, to be honest, but I could see a few of my parents putting their children back online. As I mentioned before, that’s not for everyone, but some students, enough to keep many online schools going, really do seem to be much happier when they can mute the bad apples. It certainly was nice as a teacher to be able to hit that button.

I’m tired.

I had big plans to go to the gym tonight. It’s been a while since I’ve gone and I need to get back in the swing of things. I need to get back in the groove of feeling good. Weird how you get a little sedentary and all the old aches and pains crank up. I did ride my stationary bike this morning, which I typically do for at least 30 minutes every day. It’s nice to get a little sweat going in the morning to start the day. I play some scrabble while riding or watch Happy Days (if Rhondi isn’t sleeping). I like watching old TV shows when I exercise for some reason. Comfort, maybe?

During the late summer and early fall, I think I watched the first six or seven seasons of Happy Days. It is really interesting in this time of most media being instantly accessible to consume content more readily. You can really see how shows change, ebb & flow, and run out of steam. Over the past few years, I’ve done this with a few shows and realized that Maude is hilarious, at least for the first few seasons and Barney Miller is almost fucking perfect.

When I was a kid, I hated Maude. I wondered what they were always yelling about but was not interested enough to pay attention. Plus, I was young and Underdog or Happy Days or even Soap was more my thing. Taxi! That was another one I loved and WKRP in Cincinnati. Those were my jams. Maude was not on my radar and I didn’t yet appreciate the genius of Bea Arthur. This kept me from ever paying attention to Golden Girls, but maybe I should give those a try while I bike?

Sad that Betty White didn’t make it to 100, but she went out peacefully in her sleep. How perfect is that? I hope that’s what I get to do, too.

Time to grade some homework.

See you tomorrow, friends.

Here I am looking like a teacher, I suppose.

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