In which pew pew pew

Six days to no more glasses.

Here’s the … fun? Yeah, let’s go with fun– thing about planning completely optional eye surgery during a global pandemic: I have so much other shit on my mind right now that any sort of holy shit something terrible could go wrong and I could go blind I’m going to go blind anxiety just doesn’t even have time to penetrate. Because, well, if, I dunno, the machine explodes or some shit during the surgery, and I’m permanently blinded, well, then I guess I don’t have to worry about shit like returning to work any longer, now, do I? And considering that in… shit, seventeen years of teaching– is that right?– I have never once managed to make it through the first month of school without getting sick for a couple of days, it is fair to say that I am considerably more frightened of COVID-19 right now than I am of any shit going wrong during my five-minute eye surgery. That’s gonna be fine.

I just need to not die after the surgery.

There’s a School Board meeting on July 13th– the same day as the surgery, as it turns out– and rumor has it that more information about this reopening plan is going to be revealed and/or voted on there. I think there’s also some sort of virtual townhall planned in the next couple of days. But right now, nobody knows anything except for the part where what they have planned right now is not going to work. I will have every 8th grader in my building in my math classes next semester. Every single one. Here’s what Indiana’s current infection stats look like:

Note that unlike a lot of states, Indiana doesn’t report all at once, so our number creeps up over the course of the day, and the day’s not done yet. While we’re not Florida or Texas by any stretch of the imagination, our numbers are definitely creeping back up again, and I don’t see that changing by next month.

It’ll take all of a week, tops, before there’s an 8th grader who tests positive in my building. And that will have been a kid in my classroom, by definition. When you toss second-order exposures on there (I don’t know if that’s a technical term; what I’m getting at is Jimmy’s little brother testing positive, but not Jimmy yet) it may not even take a week. We had a positive in March right around when school let out and this had barely started yet.

I keep wanting to write a more academic, reasoned defense of why schools can’t reopen yet, and the fact is I can’t get past the part where I don’t feel like I should be endangering my family so that other people can go to work. If I was actually doing it for education, that would be one thing, but if anything has been made fucking undeniable about American culture in the last three months it’s that schools are looked at as daytime child care and not much fucking else. Go ahead, try and find someone making a genuine case for reopening schools for any reason beyond “parents can’t handle their kids being at home.” You will, to put it mildly, be challenged in this effort. There’s occasional lip service paid to educational inequity and how not everyone has internet access, but that’s generally paragraph nine of the twenty-paragraph article and the rest is all about balancing either an Essential Job with staying home or existential angst from having to be on Zoom while you answer the occasional math question. And I get it! I do! I had to do the same thing with my own kid from March through June, and I only have one of them!

I just don’t think your child care issues are a reason to risk my family’s health, to say nothing of my own, and if that makes me selfish, well, I’ll find a way to live with it. Because the more we find out about this motherfucker the worse it looks, and even with a good chance of everyone coming out alive on the other end I’m not interested in a fucking chronic illness for the rest of my life either. Sorrynotsorry.

Damn near all of us need to be staying home, and while we’re staying home the fucking government needs to get off their asses and start sending people money to pay their bills while they’re home, and if your answer to that is but Republicans then fine, let’s bring the fucking guillotine back and see how fast they change their fucking minds. I’m not in the mood to be civilized about this shit any longer. Enough of this shit. We’ll be over three million fucking infections by tomorrow. Enough.

In which that’s a bit on point

I had a dream last night.

My dad and I were driving me to college, and for some reason we’d rented an SUV– specifically, a royal blue Ford Escape– in order to get me there. I was driving, and for some reason I was having an immense amount of trouble keeping control of the car– any touch of the accelerator was pushing us back into the seats, tapping the brakes was tossing us into our seatbelts, and I kept trying to make minor corrections to how we were driving and ending up in the wrong lane or nearly off the highway.

At some point, one of those accidental lane changes ended up with us on an offramp and on a new, unknown highway, now definitively going in the wrong direction.

So: I was going back to school, not at all in control of the vehicle I was driving, and going the wrong direction.

My brain does not deal in subtleties.

Just a stray thought

I still don’t know what my district’s plan for this fall is. Supposedly there’s going to be some sort of announcement on Wednesday, and as of right now the start of school is still six weeks or so away. This is what Indiana’s current numbers look like:

…so it looks like we might be starting to trend upward again, but we just hit the typical weekend drop, and today will be on the lower side too. We’ll see how this week looks.

At any rate, that stray thought: school discipline is going to have to be a lot stricter in a lot of ways this year than what we are used to. Specifically, in terms of removing kids from the building, assuming we’re physically back at all. Because while I am willing to return to the building (at least in principle; we’ll see how the details go) in order to teach math, I’ll be damned if I’m going to risk my health and my family’s health to babysit some dipshit who is only in my classroom because his momma doesn’t want him around and he wants to clown with his friends.

Anyone who is not there to learn this year needs to get sent the hell home and needs to stay the hell home. Those kids can fail on their couches instead of failing in my classroom. I’m not dealing with anybody this year who is just in my room to act like a disease vector. Forget it.

Like I said, stray thought. More later, possibly.

Blog post blog post blog post

I spent the entire day with my face buried in iMovie, putting together the 8th grade recognition video for my kids, since we can’t have an actual ceremony. It’s up to half an hour and I still have people who owe me bits of it. My eyes are bleeding, and I’m taking the rest of the night off.

That said, it’s a damn shame I can’t share this thing with y’all, because I think I’m pretty proud of it.

Meanwhile, this song will be running through my head until I die, and if you didn’t want people using your video for graduation celebrations you shouldn’t have called it “Graduation,” lady.

6:44 PM, Thursday May 28: 1,719,855 confirmed cases and — sigh — 101,562 Americans dead.

In which even complaining is too tiring

To the right: my actual profile picture in my Canvas account, after all of ten minutes of the “professional development” I had to do today.

Y’all, I have done so much complaining about how terrible and boring and flat-out insulting education professional development is over the last 20 years that even I don’t want to listen to myself doing it any longer. E-learning was done as of May 20, and the kids have until this Wednesday to complete any outstanding work, even though it really doesn’t matter because their grades can’t go down from 3rd quarter anyway by state policy— which is super great for the kids who have legitimately been stressing out about their grades during all this, to let them know that none of it mattered at all– but we are still on the hook until June 2nd. We have three days this week where we are supposed to complete “10 to 12 hours” of professional development from a menu of “courses” on Canvas, literally none of which are remotely relevant to middle school or to math teaching. That’s not an exaggeration– screening the offerings for my grade level offers two courses that are not, in fact, relevant to my grade level, and screening for “math” gives me nothing.

It is only hitting me as I’m typing this that we have not been told that we’re using Canvas next year. It is not impossible that they’re only using this to deliver PD, in which case the time I spent today to learn how to use Canvas was wasted.

Actually, who am I kidding– it was a waste anyway, as one of Canvas’ strengths appears to be how intuitive it is, which means that people like me do not need to watch hours of videos explaining how to do things, because we already know how to do them. An example: I am to watch a four-minute video about how to rearrange questions in a quiz.

ME: I bet it’s drag and drop.

VIDEO: Four minutes– four fucking minutes— about how to drag and drop a menu item. Which is not very long in a literal sense, but imagine that you have to watch 70 of these damn things, and even at 1.5x speed they’re still ponderous and unbearable and also you already know how to do everything they’re telling you.

This may be how some people learn, but it is not functional for me, particularly when all the narrator is doing is reading text off a screen. Because when I see words I read them, and I read them faster than any narrator would ever read them, except the narrator is yelling in my ear, so I’m not comprehending what I’m reading very well, and I can’t stop reading and listen to the narrator because I can’t have words in front of me that I’m not reading. I understand, because I have been a teacher for two decades and I have heard this from too many people at too many times for it to not be true, that some people are capable of choosing to not read text that is placed in front of them. I am not able to do that. If I see words, I am reading words.

The entire exercise was estimated to take, no shit, 9-12 hours for the entire course, and I finished it in less than three. (Even if I’d watched every second of the videos at regular speed, it wouldn’t have taken 9-12 hours; I have no idea where that estimate came from or whether anyone meant for it to be taken seriously.) Part of me feels like that means I’m done with my 10-12 hours of PD, since this was supposed to take that long. I dunno; I’ll probably find one more module that doesn’t look too objectionable and do it tomorrow. We’ll see.

6:01 PM, Tuesday May 26: 1,676,401 confirmed cases and 98,787 deaths. I have seen it reported that we’ve officially hit the 100,000 mark in deaths, but I don’t know where that data’s coming from, and I’m not changing my source now. I don’t know if it’s reporting a little slower or being more conservative in what counts a death or what.