That time of year again

…It’s Dear God White People Shut Up day!

I talk about this every year, and I do it to remind my fellow white people: Martin Luther King would have been to the left of every major politician you can name, and next year I need to mute his name on MLK Day because I get so unbelievably tired of (mostly) conservative politicians deliberately erasing everything about what the man thought in favor of a toddler’s conception of Jesus; ie, the Nicest Man Who Ever Lived, who never made anyone uncomfortable in any way and how dare you suggest any such thing. White people hated him when he was killed (by, uh, a white guy; not an accident) and the simple fact is if he were still alive and kicking most of us– most of the white men, at least– would hate him today too. There are politicians who praised him today who this month have voted to disenfranchise Black voters. It is proof of the nonexistence of life after death that this man, having spent most of said afterlife talking to Malcolm X and watching white people continue the Same Exact Shit, has not risen from his grave to slap his name out of the mouths of all sorts of people.

This is another one of those days where it is made perfectly clear to me (not that I ever doubted it) that I cannot possibly understand the Black experience in this country, because I am driven to snarling incoherent rage several times a week by white nonsense and I do not understand why Black people aren’t killing us all the time. I would understand it.

One minor little detail about that tweet that at least entertained me if not generating a minor amount of actual pride, much like a puppy that has received a single pat on the head: the head of the Afro-American Studies department at Howard University retweeted it. I’m not sure I should be as geeked by that as I am, but whatever. I’ll take my joys where I can get them this year.

(Also, the rest of the speech quoted in the tweet is here; I hadn’t read it before today and it’s well worth reading.)


I got a lot done today, and one of the things on that list was putting together lesson plans for tomorrow and the day after. My plans for Inauguation Day? Nothing. I expect to be a jittery wreck for most of the day even if it goes smoothly, and while none of my students really seem especially into politics or The News I suspect a handful of them are worried about it as well. So fuck it. I gave them a day off on Wednesday, which is typically a day with no in-person instruction anyway, because of “district training” that somehow never involves middle school math teachers. I also cancelled the 8th grade team meeting, and flat-out admitted in the email that I was doing it because I didn’t expect to be in any shape to take it seriously.

So far, nobody’s come after me. I don’t expect that to change, but we’ll see what happens.

Whoopsie

Somebody almost fucked around and forgot to blog today. Not that I actually have anything I want to talk about; I just had a parent come at me about her son’s “alleged” absences and I’m not in the greatest mood.

Well, okay, I’m in that sort of I keep receipts for allllll of this, ma’am, and you’re about to find out what my tone is like when I’m not telling you to fuck yourself but I want you to hear that anyway mood.

Do not, in the same damn email, tell me that you’re not home during the day when your son is supposed to be at school and then use the word “alleged” to refer to his absences. Just don’t. It’s not gonna go well.

Off to watch television.

An admission

As an educator, I don’t mind e-learning. Like, at all.

It makes me feel bad that that’s true, but it still is. Make no mistake; most teachers are killing themselves this year, especially those who are in hybrid situations. My personal situation has been helped immeasurably by the fact that I managed to snag a medical exemption to stay home full-time, so I can’t be dragged back and forth from my building, and as it turns out, if some of your kids are home and some are in school, it’s actually a lot more manageable if you’re at home rather than in the building.

But in all seriousness? I’ve always written most of my own assignments. I’m more than technically competent enough that that aspect of distance learning doesn’t bother me at all. And– and this is the kicker– I don’t have to deal with discipline, at all. Now, don’t misunderstand me; my kids are going to learn much more in a face-to-face, non-pandemic set of circumstances than they are in this; when I say I don’t mind e-learning, I mean from a “personal stress level” standpoint, not from a “student learning” standpoint. In person is clearly superior for student learning outcomes, but we can’t have that right now because of the slightly more important “keeping everyone alive” outcomes. But god damn do I like being able to get through a lesson without getting interrupted a hundred times, and I also have a number of students who are undeniably benefiting from the lack of distractions that, well, everyone else provides nearly constantly int he classroom.

I have a number of others who are suffering from the isolation and are simply not good at self-directing their learning, mind you; I’m not trying to minimize the effect they’re having on them. That’s part of the reason I passed everyone. I simply can’t expect a 14-year-old to be able to self-regulate like that in the absence of a parent standing over their shoulder.

But me? Personally? I mean, I”m stressed; everybody’s stressed. But as far as my job? I’m doing fine. I needed winter break this year less than I ever have. I can’t believe that that’s true, but it is.

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.

Today, I …

  • Sent approximately 175 emails (not a joke, and if it’s off it’s too low);
  • Worked with one (1) student for an hour on some missing work;
  • Attended a second-attempt IEP meeting that both the parent and the student declined to attend;
  • Attended a PD, supposedly;
  • Caught up my grading, again;
  • Went to the comic shop;
  • Managed to avoid an argument with a local malcontent about whether he should wear a mask in said comic shop;
  • Filmed a short TikTok video that in, oh, three or four hours has amassed 125,000 views and counting;
  • Ate tasty tortellini soup for dinner;
  • Played Demon’s Souls;
  • Attempted (and failed) to do a small bit of Christmas shopping;
  • Attempted (and succeeded) to manage to not spend money on myself, beyond the aforementioned comic books;
  • Wrote a blog post.

Later, I will …

  • Finish R.F. Kuang’s excellent The Burning God, which will likely be reviewed tomorrow;
  • Sleep.

‘Twas a decent day.