Your sensibilities

I was thinking about us.
Us as a collection of bystanders, well-wishers,
#hashtaggers, and emotional opportunists.

Us like you U separating from me. U see.
We need to talk because there’s got to be
more here than your thoughts/prayers.
This is going to be one of those
it’s not me,
it’s Y-O-U
talks.

Yes you, whose senses have lost their abilities.
Whose senseless inactions have become your inability…

To see what’s happening around you.
To feel that something was ever wrong.
To hear the voices screaming for your attention to listen.
To smell the stench of overgrown privilege, power, and position.
To taste nothing, but what is sweet and good on your overfilled plate.

Without ever knowing about those who go without regular meals but plenty of hate. Without a sniff of fresh air to break the stagnation and suffocation of choking systemic oppression. Without lending an ear to hear the voices that now rise louder than their past screams for justice so they are no longer silenced. Without feeling a moment of compassion or sorrow. Without your eyes ever beholding a better now or tomorrow.

Refresh

Hit Refresh again, and again.

 

Agony from an icon
Refreshing I don’t think so,
These reloads, add more
Work to my workload.
Digital tributaries, draining into my ocean inbox
Levels of unread messages rising.
Until it explodes in a flood of replies.
My head, eyes, and mind fill up,
While my brain, days, weeks, and
Months implode from the
Loads of keys stroked sent like flares
Of information flashing from your screen to mine
at the speed of light and time.
Update. A question. Your attention is required?
Every time that I hit refresh, a digital door swings
open allowing bits and megabytes to devour my
Cyber and physical space – not sent in spite or malice,
Yet, rarely do they provide me respite or solace.
Refresh on my screen is not a rest or a promise.
It is a reminder that the off button works only when pressed. 

Things to do while staying at home

If social media has taught me anything it’s to pay attention to these things…# # #. So when the Twitterverse says #stayathome #stayhome #COVID19 I was compelled to click, consider, and contribute.

It’s been quite a year for many of us so far as educators in Ontario. Allow me to list some of the beasts that I have battled along with my colleagues;

  1. Untimely death of a student’s parent
  2. Ukraine Air disaster(sad to lose a former student)
  3. Winter weather
  4. Labour unrest(including strike days, pause on extra-curriculars)
  5. Battles with self-doubt, wellness, and purpose.
  6. COVID 19 crisis(ancillary uncertainty and ongoing postponement of in-class instruction)
  7. Shift to emergency distance learning and reconnecting students in a meaningful manner that will support, and not overwhelm them
  8. Coming soon…but not sure what, when, how, where or why?

It has been a trying time for us all. I have been trying to make sense of it all in my own ways. Taking each day a bit more slowly is my latest strategy. With time on my hands, it seems like I am lingering longer over tasks because there is not nearly the same time demands while self-isolating with the exception of strategizing to buy groceries and fermented beverages. Who’d have thought that route mapping a grocery store, pharmacy, or LCBO would require such serious planning?

On this time away, I have found new places to hide in my house. Several new recipes have been tried(soup, sauces, scones, yum). I have ground, brewed, and drank 6 pounds of coffee since the start of March Break. Be warned, I only have 4 more before the apocoffeelypse begins when I run out. My dog has become the happiest pet on the planet having all of her people in their proper places at home.

Oddly, the list of things to do over the break has not gotten any shorter. There’s always something to clean, learn, fix, watch, listen to, and prepare. This includes preparing for the return to “Normal”. So in honour of oversharing and cathartic brain purge here are some of things that have been working well for me. So far…

  1. Housework – cleaning, cooking, organizing, yard work, rotating groceries, sanitizing devices, remotes, doorhandles, rails and switchplates to name half a dozen. Growing up we used to call this Saturday + laundry.
  2. Trying new recipes. This can be turned into a challenge especially when you try to subsitute an ingredient from the recipe with its distant cousin you found in your cupboard. It’s like cooking roulette and you bet whether it will be a delish or disatrous dish. So far I have worked with soups, filo pastry dough, and blueberry scones. 00100dportrait_00100_burst20200330115900404_cover
  3. Try new things. Time at home has given me a chance to regenerate some romaine lettuce from the stump. I’ll be replanting it in dirt this week. I have also been marveling at the progress, and the Math in all of this.
  4. Go for walks/jogs, do push-up(s), jumping jack(s), yoga, pilates, stationary cycling, lift weights, Go Noodle, Just Dance on YouTube, or anything else to get moving. All of this time in front of our screens can lead to a sedentary lifestyle.
  5. Take time to connect with family, colleagues, and friends with a quick text or email. Lots of folks are suffering. Being acknowledged can make the world of difference to someone when they know you are thinking of them.
  6. Avoid getting caught in the vortex of the 24 hour news cycle. It is not healthy to hear the same info repeatedly. Admittedly, it’s rough out there right now. Folks are doing the best they can in this “new normal”, and information is changing. Be careful not to worry too much as the numbers are constantly updating. I worry that this could lead to pandemic stress disorder. If you are doing your part by staying at home, limiting trips to stores, and practicing physical distancing then you are already part of the solution.
  7. Treat yourself to some snack food. I am having a kettle chip thing right now.
  8. Order takeout or delivery from a local restaurant. They appreciate the support.
  9. Say thanks to the people who are still working when you do have to go shopping.
  10. Rest. Try to keep a normal schedule and set of routines.

What’s working for you? Please share what you are doing at home that would inspire/encourage others in the comments section and keep the conversation going. We’re all in this together. Stay safe. Stay at home and we’ll all get through this together. Thank you.

Achoo

woman-touching-her-nose-395088

Photo by Brandon Nickerson from Pexels

…ah shoo…eschew…Aa-aa-ah-CHOO.
Tissue isn’t the issue, when a single sneeze can silence a room.

An aural interruption that sounds like epidemiological gun fire.
Germ warfare is back, hoarding new soldiers, for its big battle.
Time slows while an entire space holds its collective breath.
Whose side are you on? Can I trust you? Can I be trusted?
Pandemic enters our discourse and gathering spaces.

 

A-CHOO!

 

Without a warning.
Powerless to hold it back.
A natural response is now an attack.
Thoughts racing through every soul within
and without 2 metres distance of the blast radius.

Droplets with unknown destinations and origins dispersed.
Droplets of anxious sweat forming on foreheads from what’s not known.
Distancing, dreading, decisions to make, do I have 14 days to give?
Knowing how 7 days without interaction makes one weak.
Could 14 make me stronger? Time to wait, write, and seek.

So sick…

https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-old-depressed-headache-23180/

photo by Gerd Altmann

…of being sick, so I’m saying so long to sickness.

Imagine if it was as easy as saying, “Okay sickness, I’m sick of  you! You are dismissed. Don’t let the nostril hit you on the way out! Take whatever malicious marauding microbes you’ve been amassing in my body and vamoose.” Admittedly, there have been many times when I’ve ignored my own body’s warning signs to rest while believing that I was in control and that nothing was wrong.

“Thank you for your input/output body, but I’ll tell you(me) when it’s time to be sick. In the meantime there are things to do and being sick is not one of them.”

Mind over matter, right?

I know there are many folks out there who can ignore the early warning signs that they are sick while others go into lockdown at the first sniffle or sneeze. Either response would be considered as “normal” in the past. Yet, things are not normal in light of the extraordinary times we are living. So it’s au revoir Normal!

[This just in!]

Normal has a fever and will be self-isolating for an indeterminate amount of time. Meet the New Normal which will be filling in while and or if Normal recovers. As its first order of business, New Normal will be to evolve and disperse with the same ugly unpredicatability as COVID 19. Cue a frenzy of hoarding, panic, misinformation and speculation. But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Back to my point about being sick of being sick. 

There have been other times when I’ve said, “not now”, and powered through many hectic/hazy days at school without losing pace. As teachers, most of us have done just that.  In her recent ETFO blog Illness, Shame and the Educator Marty Complex, Michelle Fenn smacked me on my disbelieving feverish forhead with a reminder that it is not okay to work when you are sick. 

I wish that we each possessed the uncanny ability to rid ourselves of the ailments, maladies, discomforts, and viral invasions that so often set upon us, but we can’t. It is precisely because of this, that using our (ETFO) hard-fought-for sick days is good practice. In doing so, we begin to show society that healthcare is important and it can start with teachers leading the way. 

So as we adjust to Normal’s replacement, and as our schools re-open it will be crucial that we resist our urges to revert to any habits of being workplace martyrs, but actually leaders who recognize how their actions could impact their students, colleagues, and the community. Remember 3 paragraphs earlier, where I wrote,”it doesn’t have to be that way”? It’s true.

Everyone can do their part. Here’s a handy list to help us survive the New Normal;

  1. Stay informed – know the signs and symptoms of this virus. If you’re sick or think you have COVID19 isolate and seek medical attention as quickly as possible.
  2. Wash your hands with soap for a minimum of 20 seconds like you just changed a messy diaper. Scrub a dub dub.
  3. Stay home – avoid public gatherings, spaces, and peak shopping times(no hoarding)
  4. Avoid close contact (keep your distance from people outside of your home)
  5. Offer to help when and where you are able (check in on the vulnerable, donate to foodbanks, tip a grocery store worker/delivery driver/sanitation worker)
  6. Thank those who are working in health care/pharmacies while we all persevere through this outbreak
  7. Check-in with each other to support and encourage community
  8. Take time to learn or try something new. Iron some shirts, sew some buttons back on, try out a recipe or two, clean out your fridges/freezers and cook something with what you find. Send me a photo of your meal and I will add them to this post.

#COVID19 #ETFO #Education

 

Ten steps too far…the dangerous vilification of teachers in Ontario

This blog is really worth sharing.

As I read through the thoughts and experiences of fellow educators, it strikes me to the core on how much more work needs to be done in order to help an oblivious segment of the public to unlearn some harmful attitudes. As an educator it is all to clear their is a target placed on the backs of our profession. What hurts me the most is that teachers do not deserve to be backed into a corner or villified for fighting for our students nor the future of public education. Neither do teachers have intentions of turning their backs on such a crucial resource or to leave their fates in the hands of elected despots intent on lining the pockets of their cronies. I am proud to stand up to the those living lies and misunderstandings about what we do on behalf of the nearly 2 million students we serve everyday in our province.

teacherevolution

It’s February 12th and the education stalemate between teacher unions and the government rages on with little end in sight, as a news release today announced that on February 21st, all four teacher unions will strike together in solidarity.

Labour disputes are common place between any organization that has unionized workers during a renegotiation of a contract – steel workers, automotive workers, miners, government employees, university and college employees and professors, nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters, etc.

Despite these commonalities, no profession is vilified in labour disputes like teachers. 

For example, there was the advertising scandal care of  “Vaughan Working Families” which was uncovered to be a scam organization of conservative party affiliation which vilified Ontario teachers in three of our province’s largest newspapers: the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and National Post.

Screen Shot 2020-02-12 at 4.01.35 PM

Then, there are the wonderful columns of the Toronto Sun’s Brian Lilley, trashing teachers left and right…

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