When last we spoke …

I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. I would have quit/retired. I would have said, “Too much.” But I got through the first day of distant learning because you were there for me, relating honestly, not playing Mary Poppins.

You get it. We’re part of this thing we don’t want to be part of. Said it. Didn’t pretend. No sugar-coating. Then, you reached out and helped me step up to a higher platform where I could see my situation in a new way, from a new perspective. You gifted me your binoculars and told me to use the wide angle, then dial down to a close-up view.

And I did. And I survived what I thought, a week ago, I couldn’t.

I didn’t give up.

Because of you.

You reminded me of my worth. You reminded me of who I am and that nothing can take that away, not Covid-19, not technological gizmos, but especially, not fear.

One day at a time. I figured out Zoom and Screenshare. Friday we’ll do breakout rooms. Next week I’ll do Padlet. Maybe the week after, that I’ll do Nearpod. I’m not gonna rush it. I’ll master one technological communication tool at a time. Because what matters most is making human connections. What got me all stressed out and consumed with anxiety was the Steve Jobs/Bill Gates techno hoopla. I thought I had to exhibit mastery and would get slapped on my paycheck for not jumping in and embracing All That Jazz. I got intimidated and forgot who I was: I am a former journalist who teaches kids how to be the best writers, readers, speakers and thinkers that they can possibly be. I help kids become powerful and effective storytellers and compassionate, responsible citizens. I help students value hard work and going back and making it better. I help students learn how to evaluate sources and be objective. I help students step up and take action.

I can still do that even if I’m not in the classroom with them. I can still be inspiring. In many ways, I can be even more empowering. I can set up conferences via the breakout rooms. I can differentiate in ways so that no one stands out or knows that accommodations are being made. I can communicate–through my eyes, my voice, my gestures–that I care. Even through a screen, I can be human.

I didn’t know this when I was trapped in the hurricane, but the raspberry macaroons, the encouraging texts, and private messages, the purchase of a bottle of estate DeLoach Pinot Noir Boisset Wine https://my.boissetcollection.com/janet.barker/products/catalog/sale-1005 for a “friend” so that you could have a masked, eye-to-eye conversation about why Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year me HAS to stay in the classroom, “because those kids need you,” changed EVERYTHING. Everything. My fear, while real, was blocking out my purpose: To be of service. To be an Agent of Change. Like we all are.

Like we all are.

I’m not saying that there weren’t glitches today. There were. Plenty. All my fault. Operator error. I am not gonna be nominated for any teaching award any time soon, that’s for sure. I was a klutz. But somewhere around fourth period, I hit my stride. Those kids needed me because they were having problems too.

I’m no longer standing in front of the classroom packed with 35 13-year-olds. I’m at a desk, in a row-with them. Learning. Failing. Succeeding. Passing on a lesson you taught me 18 years into teaching: Phone a friend. Don’t give up.

And ‘cuz we’re adults, I learned another lesson: Don’t wait for the stars to line up: pop open a bottle of your best wine. ‘Cuz we survived Day 1.

FYI: The image posted in this blog relates to my Day 2 Lesson: Illustrate an image of you: Two Likes and a Wish. Two things you like about yourself and one thing you wish could be different. I recommend trying this activity. Turns out, beneath all the imperfections, there’s a bunch of good stuff too.

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