Slice of Life: A Library With No Librarian Is Still a Place of Books

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

When I started teaching at my school, many years ago, a budget crunch meant that our school had no librarian. The library was mostly dark during the school days. It was a travesty I could not understand as a new teacher, as a lover of books, as someone who knows the power of a library and a librarian to spark a love of reading and learning.

Well, we’re back to that situation again.

The community where I teach voted down a budget last year that has meant many cuts at the school, and one of the most dramatic is that we did not replace our librarian, who left for another job, and the library is dark again.  I don’t know if we will even have a paraprofessional or volunteer in there to check out books. It’s unclear right now.  I also don’t know if we lost our budget for buying new books for the library. Gaw. (Another ramification of the budget cuts is a reduction in hours of our amazing school nurses — something else I have trouble wrapping my head around, particularly in a Pandemic).

I don’t cast blame on my principal, who did the best she could with the budget she was given, and she was able to keep Art and Music and Physical Education through creative scheduling, etc. I’m grateful for that.

But to lose the library (not lose, maybe, as I am sure we will come up with a plan to bring students there to get books .. I hope) from our regular school day, as a place of literacy and instruction and fun, is difficult and unsettling, and I am still grappling with that change as our school year begins.

Peace (and books),
Kevin

Slice of Life: And So The Year Begins …

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

 

 

 

On this day
before the
first days
of school,
the dreamers
in us remember
long nights of
wonder and
worry, the
unknown spinning
us forward
into something
unfocused
and still a
bit blurry;
each year begins
with a single
step of pause,
then comes
the hurry

Peace (at the start of it all),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Stop Me If This Sounds Familiar

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

I was pretty successful in my attempt to not think too much about the new school year throughout the month of July (we ended our year at the end of June). Now things are creeping back into my head, day and into the night, and I am beginning to feel that anxiety increase again.

Someone on Twitter dug up this comic of mine from last year, a comic that seems appropriate again this year, as the Delta variant upends the plans for the start of the new school year.

Educator Insomnia

To be fair, I don’t even know how Delta will affect our school opening in a few weeks. I live in a state with high vaccination rates and the Covid numbers are still fairly moderate. But any elementary school, where kids are too young to be vaccinated, is sure to be a place of concern for families and staff, and students.

And I noticed our public libraries and spaces are shifting back to mask mandates for everyone.  More people are masking up in grocery stores. And my high school son remarked that he just can’t even think about starting a year in remote. My wife, a school librarian, and I are having more conversations about Covid, again.

Suddenly, the return to school is back to the forefront of our lives, and ‘normal’ still remains a distant memory.

Peace (thinking it out loud),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Hold On To The Positive (Comic)

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

This is a comic slice, the latest edition to my collection of comics I have been making since the Pandemic began as a way to deal with the turmoil. With this school year over, I am in reflective mode.

Hold On To The Positive

Peace (in panels),
Kevin

Memory Drop and the Pandemic School Year

I Don't Remember When

This was inspired by a real conversation I had with my teaching colleagues on the last days of school … seriously, we were having trouble remembering when things happened. It was that kind of year.

Peace (recalling it),
Kevin

Slice of Life: This Is How The School Year Ends

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

In the short but provocative novel Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher, the classroom of sixth graders has a tradition that they enact whenever someone is set to leave the class during the school year (either by moving or some other event). They conduct a Rock Ritual. The way it works is that the student who is leaving chooses a mineral or stone from a class collection, and then each classmates passes the rock around the circle, telling stories of the student who is leaving. That student takes the rock with them, with the idea that the rock has collected the words, stories and memories.

When we read Flying Solo in the middle of the year, my class of sixth graders all asked if we could do our own version of the Rock Ritual at the end of this crazy Covid year. I said yes, of course, and this morning, on our last day together, we will gather in the classroom to have our ritual (using Ring Pops instead of rocks).

Yesterday, we spent part of our morning with a sheet of all of their names, writing down ideas for the stories we would tell.  (Frequent Question: Can we write about ourselves? Answer: Of course). You should have heard the noise and laughter, and sharing, even though I suggested we wait until today’s actual Ritual to share (this is a rather boisterous and louder-than-usual class of sixth graders that is relentless in its socializing).

I’ll have to circle around another day to really reflect on this year of teaching and learning in the Pandemic, and all that I have learned and wished I had learned, and everything else. For now, I will settle into a final act of Community in the Classroom, as we tell stories of our time together in a year like no other.

Peace (and tradition),
Kevin

Slice of Life/Day in a Sentence: Blurry Brain

(The Slice of Life Challenge in March is hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. You can join in, if you want. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)

Four hours of in-person teaching immediately followed by three straight hours of parent-teacher conferences on Zoom immediately followed by two hours of facilitating professional development on Zoom leads to what only could be described as a very blurry brain.

Peace (wide awake and ready),
Kevin

Slice of Life/Day in a Sentence: Some Semblance of Normal

(The Slice of Life Challenge in March is hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. You can join in, if you want. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)

The classroom seemed unusually crowded and louder than usual as some semblance of normal, or as close to normal as one can get in a Pandemic, settled in, with every single one of our masked-up sixth graders returning physically to the building for the first time in a year. *

Peace (with the energy of the young),
Kevin

*We’d been in Hybrid Mode since October, with half the students in school some days.

 

Visual Slice of Life: The Eyes Have It

(The Slice of Life Challenge in March is hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. You can join in, if you want. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)

This is a sample of some of the faces created and shared by students last week as we talked about “reading emotions” in the Pandemic, when our masks cover our faces.

Their task, as part of our social-emotional lesson, was to answer the question: How are you feeling about coming back in full to school?

(Which happens this coming week) They had to capture their feeling in a picture with both a mask and mask-less face, as we then talked about the importance of our eyes and addressed any anxiety over the coming changes ahead for our school.

Classroom Face Collage

Peace (noticed),
Kevin