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Entry date: 7-19-2022 - Random stuff - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


Last week was the first week at my new (old) school. I’m back online where I was for the 20/21 school year and teaching music again. It feels really nice to be back doing something I truly love.


I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that I love being able to talk about music all day long with students. When I was doing it before, I’m sure Rhondi felt like she could take over my class at any point and jump right in since she heard it so much. This year will be a little different, though.


There are not as many kids doing online school this year, so I only have nine sections to teach during the week and I will be helping the homeroom teachers with some intervention work in the meantime. I get to teach music and help students who are struggling with reading build their skills, which will be a nice change of pace. It’s a sweet gig.


One of the sweetest parts is that I get to design my own curriculum. It will be based on state standards, of course, and our educational philosophy, but it’s basically mine to design. There are some limitations, being online, with what I can do in terms of making music with the kids. Because everyone’s internet is going at different speeds, you really can’t sing together. That’s okay, though.


It just means that we will spend a lot of time learning about different instruments and their history, some basic music theory, and the history of recorded (and unrecorded) music. This is where it gets fun. I can teach the kids about all kinds of music and the people who made it.


I’ve also got some new software applications to help make the class more interactive and interesting for the kids. I can easily record data about what they are learning and liking, which will help me continue to make the class more engaging for them through the year. This is exciting. When I did this job before, our tech was not quite as good.


I have to believe that educational software and learning management systems for online learning will only improve. Sadly, it seems like Covid is going nowhere and for some parents, a good online school will be the safest option. That’s not even bringing in the horrible specter of school shootings and violence.


I can honestly say that many of the students I worked with online and in person were happier and seemed to be more engaged with learning when they were doing school virtually. One of my students last year, for example, I had the year prior, and she was much more confident and spoke up in class when she was online. It took almost the whole year for her to get comfortable with the other students in our brick-and-mortar classroom.


Many students do seem to thrive online. They typically have a great support system at home, though, which is key. We have about 300 students enrolled in the school right now and I’m curious if I will get to see 200 of them. For some kids, the online thing is a way to slip through the cracks, too. Sad as it is.


To switch gears a bit, it is really encouraging to be on a staff with people who really seem to care and be happy to be at their job each day. Our first week was really pleasant and cool, even if everyone was dragging a bit by Friday. Many of my fellow teachers have been off for a couple of months now as the online school ended in early May, so I’m sure it was a bit tougher for them to get going.


Admittedly, it has been tough for me. I dig the life of leisure up here in Maine. I was really enjoying getting up and being lazy and easing into a few hours of writing. Last week my writing output dwindled considerably, and I got into kind of a funk because of it. For the previous weeks, after I got done writing, I would usually go do something outside. Rhondi and I would take a hike with our cousin, Ellen, and the dogs. Sometimes the kids would come, too, and we would have a fine time.


Some days I would also just hang out on the deck and look at the trees. Maybe sip a beer or three. Had some good beers up here, for sure. Last Thursday night, we had a nice little sampling session with Cousin Will, and he shared some excellent beers from Horus and Revolution and Bissell Brothers. We also cracked a Wren House barley wine that was phenomenal, too.


I must recommend the Koan kellerbier from Bissell Brothers. It’s a really nice unfiltered lager. I’m guessing it is probably hard to find out west as Bissell Brothers is a Maine thing, but still. If you can find it, try it. Good stuff and smooth.


So, I haven’t been getting to do my usual Maine routine, but I do get to be in Maine for a bit longer. I am thankful for that. More time with Rhondi before we have a little time apart and more time to be out of the heat and the mess of a big city. I miss my Phoenix people, but not the place itself. I do miss our house, though. It is still home, too.


I watch the news and see people posting about getting Covid again and am doubly thankful for not having to go back in the classroom in person. It will be nice to lie low for a bit, I think. The kids and I can get in the groove of a new school year and before we know it, Rhondi and Doug will be home. Lots of cool stuff to look forward to and lots of stories to keep working on. I think I’m going to be busy with the ol’ keyboard for a while, my friends. I love it.


See you tomorrow.



A yummy beer. Stole the pic.

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2 Comments


That's a great idea.


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Steve Roberts
Steve Roberts
Jul 19, 2022

I can see it in my head: "Students, your first homework assignment is to watch the first episode of Beverly Hills 90210 on Hulu. The band playing at the backyard party is called The Meat Puppets."

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