Today's post was originally going to be incredibly different from what I'm writing ... it's hard to even believe. A week ago, I was coming off the high of working on a wonderful project (which I was going to share, but I'll now save for next week) and now I'm at the beginning of a mandated 3 week shut-down of school.
Let's start by saying this: these are uncertain and historic times. I could NEVER have anticipated this. Prior to Thursday, my district hadn't even closed a single day for the flu! I had been aware of the stress and concern over the COVID-19 disease through my email threads but it hadn't really hit home. When I received the request from Becky, my curriculum director, on Wednesday asking us to clear Thursday morning schedules to meet and help plan for the potential closure ... it hit home. She never asks us to clear our schedule.
During our pre-planned in-service day Friday, we rolled out the best plan we could to our staff. Becky had already given the staff her expectations and guidance via an email. She & other district leaders were making their way to each building on Friday to address the staff in person and answer questions. I was to work with my elementary buildings to come up with distance learning opportunities. As I worked with each grade level team, I reiterated Becky's expectations and did my best to support them. I was so impressed with these teams that I left Friday feeling incredibly confident in our elementary plan for distance learning.
I want to share a few of my take-aways from Thursday & Friday, as well as my plans for the next 3 weeks.
Take-away #1 -
THIS IS HISTORIC. I've had snow days off school. I've had cold days off school. I even had a few days off when the remnants of a hurricane created a multi-day power outage (important to note I'm in Ohio). I've never had a governor-mandated closure. As one of the kindergarten teams noted in their letter home ... we are all witnessing history! We will all look back one day and remember this. We will learn from these days and we will -hopefully- be stronger.
Take-away #2 -
This is NOT a vacation. This is more so for the mom in me ... I have 3 daughters who are also out of school. They know this isn't normal and I don't want them to be scared. But literally ALL of their activities have been cancelled. ALL of them. As we ate dinner last night, we talked about it not being a vacation. The younger two were sent home with most of their workbooks and the oldest has her school-issued device. They will be expected to be doing "something". I told them we aren't going to stay up late and sleep in late and we are going to have some designated learning time. (Don't worry, I'm not super mean - but I have always believed in a routine of some kind!)
Take-away #3 -
This is NOT homeschooling. I am not becoming a homeschooling mom overnight. I even tried my best to stress this to my teachers, we can't expect the parents of our students to become teachers either. I want my girls to have learning opportunities during this time - preferably from their teachers - but at the least, reading books, doing some writing, and practicing math in some way. I'm not interested in mastering 3 different grade levels worth of content, nor do I want my daughters to be stressed over gaining 3 weeks worth of curriculum at home during this time. Let's be honest - we need to stay healthy and maintain where we are now. Also, we are going to have a LOT of family time, too. We need to keep busy in a different way because we are going to be together a LOT. (Even more so if my husband is told not to come into work any more either ...)
Take-away #4 -
We WILL be slowing down. While this is being forced upon us, I'm not going to say it's all bad. I had even commented in my blog just last week, that time hasn't been my friend and if I could have skipped sleeping, I would have. Guess what? I now have enforced time to really slow down. No running to soccer or basketball or dance ... no cramming in dinner ... no need to set my alarm (but I will ... keep reading to find out why) ... and so on. We are going to experience a very different way of looking at time.
Take-away #5 -
I can choose what I want to focus on. I better understand COVID-19. I better understand it's potential impact. I better understand how I can be smart about protecting myself & my family. Armed with this knowledge, I also am better able to focus. I will focus on keeping things simple ... keeping things "normal" ... keeping things "regular" ... and helping my family and colleagues to do the same. It'll be a different looking normal and regular, but I'm eager to learn.
With all of this being said ... what am I planning to do?
Project #1: Daily planning
Continue my daily planning. Around Christmas break, I started each day with a daily plan. I had listened to Rachel Hollis (of the "Girl, Wash Your Face" fame) and she shared the journaling she had been doing for years. I have faithfully done this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. since. I set my alarm for 10 minutes earlier, just to fit it in. It has been a fabulous way to start my day and looking back at previous days really helps me to see what I have/haven't accomplished. I'm going to insert the "plan" that I've followed, slightly adapted from Rachel's plan. Feel free to use it or adjust it.
|My "take" on Rachel Hollis' journal.
Project #2: Blogging
I've got a plan rolling around in my head how I can use these next 3 weeks to better support my colleagues (and you, my readers). Nothing wild and crazy, but what a better time to try out a new idea than when I'm not incredibly pressed for time? Look for something soon!
Project #3: Keeping in Touch
I am planning on keeping in touch with my colleagues over this time - so here's your warning! 😁 We have to keep this time away as human as possible. There's always the phone, video conferencing, texting, and email (and probably more options I'm not remembering right now).
Project #4: Keeping a Routine
Like I mentioned above, I'm going to stick to a routine. I'm not going to get up at the same time, but I AM going to set my alarm so I keep my body in a rhythm. I'm not going to stay up until all hours of the night. (I'm going to do the same for my daughters.) I'm going to keep up my workout routine - as much for my mental health as for my physical health. We are going to eat breakfast/lunch/dinner around "normal" times. We might even do some "home ec" and do some baking and cooking! We are also going to do school work Monday-Friday and keep weekends less structured.
Project #5: Home Improvements
What better time to tackle some home improvement than a time where staying home is being encouraged? We've already painted my oldest daughter's bedroom and now we are moving on to replacing carpet with new flooring. My girls are getting some much needed manual labor experience!
Project #6: Continue My Own Learning
I'm currently taking a break in-between coats of trim paint to write this. Since this is really a one-person job, I am able to catch up on some podcasts. While my girls do their reading, I'm going to be able to read books of my own! This is something I've really gotten away from. First up - "Vintage Innovation" by John Spencer. There are a few online activities I might also dip my toe into ...
My bottom-line is I'm going to do my best to keep myself (and my family in as "normal" a routine as possible so we don't get lost in the crazy of this time. We are going to navigate this time - together - as best as we can. I hope that you do as well. Don't be afraid to reach out if you are not feeling connected ... we are all here and we are blessed enough to have multiple ways to connect without being in person. Please take care of yourself and your family and stay healthy!
And when we go back ... and we WILL go back ... I hope I do it better and stronger than I did before. 💖
If you have any questions or comments or if I can help, PLEASE reach out. Please comment below, reach out on Twitter, @kiefersj, or email me at Sarah@techyoucando.com .