Grading update

Quick post tonight, because my eyes are bugging me and my head is full of The Mandalorian but I don’t want to talk about it yet– I did, in the end, refuse to fail any of my students, at least for the semester. I decided any missing work would go in at 40% rather than a 0– 40% because it puts a little bit of a buffer between that and the 50% floor grade I’ve always used for work that was attempted but done poorly. After that, any student between 51 and 59% got bumped up to a D-, and then I did give the higher of the two quarter grades as a semester grade rather than an average. For most of my students that didn’t end up being much of a change; a B+ sliding up to an A- or maybe a D+ going to a C, but there were a few where it was a pretty staggering jump, and I don’t care. If you were an A student one grading period and an F student another grading period, it’s because something happened, not because you suddenly forgot how to add. That actually did happen with two students, and I gave both of them the A.

There were maybe twenty kids who still failed both quarters even with those changes, and those kids got an N, which is effectively a “no grade.” Basically every kid who did something over the course of the semester passed. I don’t know that I’m willing to go to quite these lengths to keep kids from failing in a non-pandemic sort of situation, but that’s the situation we’re in right now, so I’m going to adapt to it.

In which developments fascinate

Everybody seemed to be in a good mood today; none of the usual Monday-morning crabbiness. I wonder why?

In other news, my partner teacher has Covid. They emailed me last night to let me know, and I got an official notification from the principal today that a staff member had tested positive but that I was not considered a “close contact” of the person and therefore had no need to quarantine. Which, duh, this is exactly why I’m working from home, a decision that is now 100% vindicated. As of right now, I’m not clear on how many people in the building are currently quarantining, but I pay attention to the emails we get, and several staff members don’t appear to have been in the building for a while. My partner said that they had contracted the disease at school in the email, but wasn’t specific as to where that certainty came from.

No word also on how many students are expected to quarantine. I would think a good portion of our mutual students would count as close contacts, and I’d have to hear about it from them, as the office isn’t especially likely to tell me what students they’ve sent home. That said, the guidance the district is using is bullshit, so it’s entirely possible they’ve determined that none of the students are close contacts. I’m sure we will know quickly if that was the right decision to make.

Meanwhile, this is what the county looks like:

And this is what the state looks like:

School started just after that huge spike in the county data, which was Notre Dame sorting through the mess of their first few weeks. They came back just before we did.

I’m sure everything will be fine.

On yard signs, again

I should probably feel at least kind of guilty about how I’ve handled my day so far. Under the current hybrid model my district has adopted while we pretend that our numbers in the state and the county aren’t skyrocketing, Wednesdays are days where all of the kids are home and the buildings are “deep cleaned.” We were instructed last week to keep these days asynchronous– in other words, there is to be no live instruction on Wednesdays, and thus I’m freed from having to spend my entire day in front of a computer screen. Furthermore, because of the aforementioned need for deep cleaning, even the staff that have been reporting to work are home today. I’d have been home anyway, mind you, but I’m super at home today.

Why is everything asynchronous on Wednesdays? Because they want to use those days for training. Which is why I was a bit surprised to learn that today’s training was a single hour in length and was not required to be viewed live. So rather than make sure to log in precisely at 10:00 to watch it as it unfolded, I went out and ran some errands, leaving the house for the first time in eight days. I voted, managing to hit the County/City building at a slow moment and getting in and out in 32 minutes, which didn’t seem too bad. Since I was downtown, I went to the Griffon and bought some dice, then hit the comic shop, got a flu shot, grabbed lunch from a drive-thru and came home. Now, of course, I’m blogging, and I guess when I’m done with this I’ll do the training module and get my lesson for tomorrow recorded. But so far it’s 1:41 on what is technically not a day off and I haven’t done a single thing for work. I kind of feel like I should feel bad about that. Then again, I wasn’t the one who told me to not meet with students today because of trainings and then only scheduled an hour of training.

(stares off into space for eighteen full minutes)

Anyway, I was going to talk about road signs. I was mostly along the same route I was last time I did this, so I can report a handful of changes:

  • There is now a single (1) Holcomb for Governor and a single (1) Myers for Governor sign, although obviously not in the same yard. Notably, Indiana has a Libertarian running this year who is expected to capture a nontrivial percentage of the vote because of Republicans who are disappointed that Holcomb’s actually attempting to take the virus seriously– enough so that it’s less unimaginable that the Democrat might win than it might be otherwise, given how utterly shit his campaign has been. I’ve seen no signs for that guy anywhere, though.
  • Overall the volume of signs has not changed notably, and continues to be primarily for state and local races.
  • Interestingly, and somewhat depressingly, I’ve noted a trend in yards that have signs for the presidential race in their yard, and it doesn’t appear to be a partisan trend: the lawn signs for President are usually placed much closer to the actual house than any others. I would guess that people are either actually stealing and/or destroying them or people are assuming that they will if they put their sign within reach of the street.

I voted pretty much in accordance with my earlier endorsements, although I’m a bit more irritated with the School Board today than I was when I wrote that post two weeks ago and I very nearly did not vote for John Anella. Rudy Monterrosa continues to have earned my vote. I also decided to vote for the Democrat in the county coroner race despite the Republican candidate having formerly been my doctor. Upon thinking about it a bit more, despite my history of not voting for this office and my strong contention that it has no reason to be 1) elected or 2) partisan in the first place, I feel like any doctor who has been alive to witness the science-denying, mask-refusing death cult the GOP has turned into in the last four years and remains a part of the party can no longer be trusted. Sorry, Dr. Jordan. I liked you when you were my doctor but this isn’t okay.

Three mini-posts

I did, unfortunately, end up watching most of the “debate” last night, giving up at about the 2/3 mark when it became clear that the Beast was not going to stroke out or have a heart attack while I was watching. It was every bit as horrible and depressing as everyone says it was; there simply should not be further debates while this person is in office. There’s no goddamn point. There have been some rumblings that the rules are going to change from the debate commission, but if they’ve provided any specifics I’ve not seen them yet. Basically unless the moderator has the power to cut microphones there’s no further point in entertaining the exercise any longer.

We missed the sadly predictable moment where he refused to condemn white supremacy. Which … no one should have been surprised. White supremacists, the Klan, and the Nazis are clearly his people, and there has been no reasonable doubt about that for quite some time. He’s not going to condemn them because he’s one of them. That’s all there is to it. And yes, you are a bad person if you continue to support him. It’s not up for debate.


I think it is still the case that I own every album-length release Public Enemy has put out, including their live album. I generally find out about them by accident now, though, and while it’s kind of depressing it’s been true for a while that the band’s best days are behind them. The fact that they continue to mine the well of songs from Yo! Bum Rush the Show and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back after all these years is … well, it’s a choice, is what it is, and true to form this release has three or four different tracks that pull material from those two albums, plus a remake of Fight the Power with a bunch of new verses by non-PE rappers.

That said … I think I”m on my seventh or eighth listen already, and I just discovered it on Tuesday, so they’re doing something right. I mean, it’s PE. It’s Chuck D and Flavor Flav, despite the fact that Flav has been kicked out of the band at least seven or eight times by now. I’m enjoying it.


I got an email from Human Resources this afternoon, late enough in the day (no doubt on purpose) that there was no real point in asking for any clarification, informing me that my request for a length-of-the-pandemic e-learning job had been approved. (I assume it’s length of the pandemic. How long this job is slated to last was not mentioned, and honestly I can’t criticize them for not knowing.)

This rather portentous paragraph was in the message:

As we begin to start school back next week,  please be aware that your grade level, subject, or building designation could change based on the demand for eLearning in the school corporation.   We will continue to modify based on student attendance, eLearning requests, and building needs. 

Now, next week is the last week of the quarter, so my assumption is that I still have my current job next week. But I literally have no idea what they will have me doing the week after that. None at all. I mean, I’ll probably still end up teaching math in my current building, because seniority, but I have no idea.

And, I suspect, neither do they.

The pandemic started in March, y’all.

So that’s fun.

on weariness

Before I say anything else, let’s all agree to take a minute and just appreciate black-and-white cinematography.

Also, leaving the O in the title of this post uncapitalized was originally a typo, and then I stared at it for a second and decided to keep it.

Back in July I submitted paperwork to my district regarding my desire to teach from home. This included a doctor’s note informing them that I had high blood pressure and was a fatty-fat, both of which are additional risk factors for Covid-19. On top of that, I have never once made it through a school year without using 90% of my sick days at least and more than once have run out of them by the end of the year; I was already out of sick days for the year in March when all hell broke loose and school got cancelled for the rest of the year. Not one time in my life have I made it through the first month of school without getting sick.

And then we went virtual-only until at least October 5, which is rapidly approaching, and the school board is voting on Monday about the reopening plan they’ve been presented with. It is unclear to me whether approving the plan, which at least in broad strokes I approve of– it’s basically a hybrid model like many other districts have adopted, and in general I approve of hybrid models although there are some quibbly bits here and there– is the same thing as directing us to return to school. I’m not going to post any graphs today but the short version is that basically every important metric has gotten worse than it was when they cancelled us until October 5, so the only reasonable thing to do (and, frankly, the easiest thing to do, believe it or not) is to continue to keep everyone at home.

Yesterday I got an email from my boss outlining how he sees my job responsibilities working out if the students return to school and I continue to work from home. And I don’t get he impression that he’s pissed at me about it or anything, to be clear. The email ended with “Let me know if you have any questions,” and my first thought was I don’t even know where to start.

I took a brief shopping trip today to buy a couple more work-appropriate polo shirts, because some of my favorites are starting to show their age. And while I was in the store I had to listen to a conversation between the store clerk and someone whose husband was waiting in the car because he didn’t want to put a mask on, and I think I aged five years during the conversation. Everyone was being very polite and understanding; it wasn’t one of those Hey, let me make you famous on the internet sorts of situations, but … Christ.

I look at this job description, and it’s manageable, and more importantly it’s reasonable– I should be clear here that I really like my principal and have since the second I met him– but it just makes me tired. And I’m falling into this trap, where I’m bored, and I’m tired, and so I’m sort of shrugging at basically every single health decision I’ve ever made, and shrugging at my wife and my son and my father and my father-in-law, and thinking fuck it, let’s go back.

(Oh, and one place where the plan really does stick in my craw is that it’s going to require another adult to be in my room managing things, presumably while I instruct my kids from home via Google Meet or maybe from the big-screen in the room like some sort of older, fatter Max Headroom bullshit. I don’t like the idea that I’m directly inconveniencing other people with this, which … there’s an argument to be made that I shouldn’t care, but still.)

My son is also home. He doesn’t have to be, and for various reasons I’m not going to get into his school is able to do some things with social distancing and masking that simply aren’t possible in any school I’ve ever worked in. And my days, generally, are spent with me in my office either instructing or (more often, honestly) just shooting the shit with my students, and keeping half an ear on him in the background. Every so often he forgets that he doesn’t actually have to scream for the people on the other end of the computer to hear him (a lesson he has never learned) and my kids will actually comment on what he’s doing. And every time his teacher says something even mildly cross to him, and every time I hear him leave the room to go to the bathroom or whatever, or hear a sound from his room that is likely not produced by a 9-year-old diligently working on his schoolwork, I go into this hideous mindfuck where I want to redirect him and help his teacher but I don’t want to leave my job to go do her job and also does it really matter if he left for a second and maybe she doesn’t want me shoving my face into her business.

(I told this story, right? I mildly corrected one of my students when his mom was within earshot and she blew up at him. I had to put him on mute to keep the other kids from hearing his mom. Not what I wanted. I don’t know if his teacher wants me charging into the room to Fix Shit every time he needs to be told to put something down or watch what she’s doing.)

He hasn’t seen another kid since March. I kind of feel like he should see other children. He’s kind of going feral.

(Also, I love my son, and I hope I don’t actually need to put that disclaimer there, but I have not been out of earshot from him for more than an hour or two at any point since March, and … yeah.)

I have not been to work since March. I can think of maybe three face-to-face, non-transactional conversations I have had with an adult who was not a relative by blood or marriage since March.

But if any of that was reasonable, then surely right now when shit has only gotten worse since this all started, it is still the right thing to do to continue to keep this shit up, right? We shut shit down when there weren’t any cases of Covid-19 in Indiana. Now we have a thousand a day. And that number only continues to go up.

And I see all these other people out there not wearing masks and doing whatever the fuck they want, and shit, maybe I’m the crazy motherfucker here. And I’m a data nerd and a numbers guy and I know full well that the millionth person to die from this will probably die this weekend and that shit is only getting worse precisely because of the type of thinking I’m engaged in right now and fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

I’m fucking tired.