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Posts Tagged ‘Students’

Dear Dominic,

You’re killing me.

I get it: You aren’t a fan of online learning. As I told one of your teachers this week: You are not thriving in the remote environment (to put it mildly).

But you do actually have to do the work until there is an alternative.

Part of your problem is your lack of time-management skills and your habit of prioritizing things like watching “The Mandalorian” over getting your work done.

Do you really want to repeat 10th grade? You’d end up going to school with your brother.

I KNOW you don’t want that. So pull yourself together.

Love,
Your long-suffering mother

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Dear Administrators at My Boys’ School,

I hate to criticize you in the middle of a pandemic. I know you are doing the best you can. So let me just provide some well-meaning advice based on what I experienced leading up to and during Curriculum Night.

  1. Send a schedule and teacher links more than just a few moments before the event begins. You could have saved so much parent worry. It also might have boosted attendance. I managed to attend six sessions (out of 10 that I tried). The most present in any session? Five, including the teacher and me. In one session, it was just Dominic’s Geometry teacher and me. She is a lovely woman.
  2. Make sure the links work.

    This is what happened when I followed the provided link. There was no meeting code.

  3. Either extend the time per class or just have the teachers record overview videos. Seven minutes is not enough time (not even for that childhood game 😉).
  4. Strongly suggest that teachers use the same platform. Zoom worked fine. Google classroom was hit and miss. Microsoft Teams didn’t work (no audio).

I’m not trying to be a jerk to you in these difficult times. But I do want to be an active parent. Please make it easier for us. I don’t think these are unreasonable, outlandish suggestions.

Thank you.

Sincerely
Dominic and Gideon’s Mom

*Thanks to the Beach Boys.

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Dear Teachers,

God love you. I can’t even imagine how difficult your life is right now. Thank you so much for all that you do for woefully low pay.

This post is addressed specifically to my sons’ teachers.

I do not envy you.
I appreciate you.
I know you are doing the best job you can.

That said, I don’t think I will be attending Curriculum Night tonight because it is just too confusing for me.

And this is what worries me.

I have a number of college degrees.
I am technologically adept.
I teach online and have created online courses.

Yet I CANNOT FIGURE OUT how and when to log in tonight. Each of my children has seven teachers plus homeroom. They are at the same school. I’ve received SO MANY emails.

Interestingly enough, only half of the teachers have sent the emails. I haven’t heard anything from the other half. Ninth-grade teachers are much more communicative (five of eight) than 10th grade (two of eight).

Here’s the biggest problem: Most emails don’t include times. I filled out the form. This teacher did not send the link. Also, she sent that email at 10 p.m. the night before, giving parents just over 24 hours to respond.

Another teacher wants us to join during the day. DURING THE DAY! You know, when most people are working their full-time jobs.

There are only two of you who have provided an easy guide like this:

But guess what: Those two? Scheduled at the SAME TIME. Of course. You know how I know? I had to do this old school:

Nothing written means I got nothing from the teacher.

Then later — at 4 p.m. today — I got a text from the principal with this schedule:

The principal sent this ONE HOUR before the event is supposed to begin. You’ll note that the times don’t line up with what the teachers sent. And how am I supposed to attend two sessions (because I have two kids) at the same time in the space of fewer than seven minutes?

If it is this confusing for me — an educated technophile who works in education — I cannot imagine how difficult it is for parents who aren’t. Or parents who speak English as a second language. Or parents who do not have access to technology.

And you know it is difficult for the students to keep up with all this.

I can see why some students are already completely checked out (e.g., Dominic).

All I’m asking for is some consistency, at the VERY least.

Maybe I’ll see one of you tonight. We’ll see.

Thanks again in general for all that you do. These are weird, challenging times.

Sincerely,
Dominic and Gideon’s mom

*Thanks, Kim Wilde.

 

 

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Dear Dekalb County School System:

Thank you for starting the school year online rather than face to face. Thank you for not caving to pressure from the COVIDiots Thank you for keeping all of us safe.

We are still in a FREAKIN’ PANDEMIC!

If people had buckled down and done what they should have in March/April, we might be closer to being back to normal.

But no.

Sigh.

Anyway.

My boys went back to school today. Usually I’d post a photo from their first day of the new school year on social media. This year, it seems silly.

Their bedrooms are their school.

Here it is, for what it’s worth:

Dominic is in 10th grade. Gideon is in ninth.

They are feeling overwhelmed. Seven classes each. All virtual. Mostly asynchronous.

(I’m even overwhelmed by the number of parent emails and texts I’m getting.)

There are thousands of kids doing the same thing, so the network was overloaded. Dominic was in a synchronous classroom by 9 a.m.

It took Gideon until 11 to get online.

But this is the way it is right now. I’m not complaining.

One of the cool things is that they decided they wanted to go to the store to get their own supplies. No ridiculously long and detailed supply lists this year. Thank GOD. (They rarely even used most of the things we just HAD to get.)

One of the not-so-cool things is that we ended up going to Walmart. (Shudder. Big stores now give me anxiety.)

On the way home, Dominic and I had this conversation:

Him: I really would prefer actually going to school. I’ll take my chances with the virus.
Me: Great! So you want to put your brother at risk, me at risk, and also your father who has asthma and likely would get the worst of it and die.*
Him: Well, when you put it like that, I guess virtual is fine.
Me: Mmmhmm.

So, DCSS, keep up the good work. Difficult times call for creative solutions. We will persevere.

You know that adage: What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Sincerely,
Beth, DCSS parent

* Yeah, I exaggerated, but not by much. Eddie has had so many colds that graduated to pneumonia.

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Dear COVID-19,

Pack your knives and go.

One day you’re in; the next day you’re out.

You’ve been chopped.

But yet you’re still here. And where am I?

Trapped on the couch watching way too much Reality TV. Clearly.

I even managed to get through some of my “Ridiculousness” backlog.

I still have a ways to go.

It’s only been a week of intense social distancing, but it has taken a toll on this extrovert who loves nothing better than to be out of the house.

I remember my mother and father always being aggravated with me:

Mom: Why can’t you sit still?
Me: I just can’t.

Dad: You are going out AGAIN?
Me: YES!

My boss told me I could work from home.

I said I had two teenage boys at home. No WAY I want to be there.

So I’ve been splitting my time.

Answer emails. Walk to work. Answer more emails. Advise students via Zoom. Talk to whoever might be around at a safe distance. Walk home. Answer more emails. Read industry reports.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

On Friday, I spoke to two people. It was a big day.

I’ve been doing plenty of cooking and cleaning. Talking to people ON THE PHONE (!). And drinking. So much for the good done via Dry January.

I just read a horrifying article that indicates this could go on for 10-12 WEEKS.

If that is what it takes to keep more people from getting you, COVID-19, then I understand, and will try not to complain.

But I really wish you would take the hint and LEAVE.

The tribe has spoken.

Impatient and unhappily housebound,
Beth

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Dear Student Sniffling in a Common Area:

I care about your well-being. I do. And because I care, I need to tell you to do something immediately:

Go blow your nose.

Oh my GOD — please. Sucking up your snot every 30 seconds is so annoying to hear. How is it not annoying to you to do it?

Really, you should take your clearly infirm backside home where you can be sick in peace.

If you MUST do homework in a common area where others are present, then at least have some awareness.

  • Keep tissues and hand sanitizer handy.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to recover quickly. (You have a water bottle, yet I haven’t seen you take a sip in the two hours I’ve been here.)
  • Take care of yourself.

There’s only one you, and you need to be in peak performance for the rest of the semester.

Get well soon,
Beth

Do this now.

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Dear Students,

I love many parts of my job, but I like teaching you the most. When the semester is over, I’m actually sad (not relieved as many academic types are).

Public Speaking may be my favorite course to teach for three reasons:

  1. I get to know you extremely well through the topics you choose.
  2. You show a large amount of growth in a short amount of time. Each of you improves.
  3. I end up learning plenty.

In fact, this semester, I learned about child labor in smartphone construction, conspiracy theories about Kurt Cobain’s death, the House of Chanel, Chris Jericho’s career, and why you should exercise 5-6 times a week for 30 minutes (as opposed to 3 times a week for an hour, which is my routine at the moment).

I’ve written about student evaluations before, but here’s a recap: It is a little scary for me. There’s always someone who hates me and/or the class. But then I get feedback like this, and it takes out the sting:

(And her heart grew three sizes that day.)

Remember that I’m here for you long after the class ends. Yes, you have to climb a few flights of stairs to see me, but I’m also just a quick email away.

Best wishes,
Dr. Beth

 

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Dear Dominic,

You are something else. You call to mind Forrest Gump:

Your raging hormones ensure that life with you is unpredictable, at best.

See, this recent text exchange made me laugh:

 

 

(Why didn’t you take a selfie? I don’t know.)

This one with your father is pretty funny also:

And you even charmed some college girls when I took you to my Public Speaking class as a visual aid. One student was doing her informative speech on the difference between college-aged Gen Z and younger representatives of the generation.

Students in the class gave the presenter high marks for her breathing visual aid:

When you left, half the girls in the class squealed, “He’s SO CUTE.”

Don’t let that go to your head.

For the love of gawd, as you wrote.

Just don’t.

Instead, focus on your school work so I don’t have to have convos like this:

I love you despite your bad attitude and general slackery.
Mama

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The above is from The Pattern, an iPhone app that freaks me out daily. And this is accurate.

Dear Emotions:

You know I don’t often truck with the seven of you, with the exception of Joy. Joy and I get along GREAT!

As a matter of fact, Joy and I hung out this morning when my niece Chelsea sent me this delightful video:

Yessss.

The rest of you can shove off. I’m the worst at allowing myself to consider any of you. I don’t know if it is a woman thing or a mom thing or just a me thing, but I usually think about myself and my own feelings last.

But.

I showed a speech in my Public Speaking class yesterday that featured Psychologist Susan David noting that we human beings need to do a better job of acknowledging our emotions.

And my friend Brian told me the other day that I needed to “roll my feel window down.”

Fine.

So here are the six other feelings I tend to — or try to — ignore:

1. Anger
I married into a family that goes from zero to 60 in a hot second. So I try to tamp this one down as hard as I can so things don’t escalate. All bets are off with Dominic, though, when he refuses to help around the house but then asks for a replacement phone when he shatters his. For the fourth time.

2. Contempt
I reserve this for Mitch McConnell.

3. Fear
I’m an extrovert in general. But, as I revealed to my Public Speaking students, there is one scenario I find surprisingly crippling: receptions/networking events. I just have the hardest time walking up to a closed group of people and inserting myself.

In fact, I was faced with this scenario Monday during a Rotary meeting. I walked into the room, saw about 30 groups of two to three people close-talking, and decided to visit the restroom and breathe into a paper bag.

Not really, but I did give myself five seconds of panic like Jack in “Lost.”

4. Disgust
This emotion only manifests while I’m watching “Ridiculousness.” Or the aforementioned Mitch McConnell.

5. Sadness
This one is kin to disappointment, which I feel all the time but pretend I don’t. I try to avoid this emotion by managing my expectations. Sometimes it works. (I don’t really expect to win the lottery.) Sometimes it doesn’t. (Want me out of your life? Break a promise.)

6. Surprise
I’m rarely surprised in a bad way (see above for managing expectations) or in a good way (see my post about a recent holiday). But, I was surprised not too long ago that someone I trusted at work could not be trusted. At all. So that was a shock that quickly led to No. 5 before I could put a cork in it.

Yeah. The truth is that I experience all of you but I either pretend that I don’t OR bottle you up as quickly as you appear.

According to Dr. David, I’ve got to do a better job of prioritizing emotional truth over (sometimes false) positivity.

So.

The truth is that sometimes I’m not OK.

And that’s OK.

I guess that means I’ll be hanging out with all seven of you more often. That’s a crowded house, but a richer, more honest one.

My feel window is open.

Come on in,
Beth

 

* Apologies to “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”

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Dear Friends,

Back in my day (someone get me my walker), we cruised around Stone Mountain Park after school.

Now the Dunkin’ Donuts is the hangout.

According to Dominic, the crowd is hit or miss.

Last Friday featured quite a crowd, though. When I went to get him and Gideon, I decided I needed an iced coffee.

Inside, I practically needed a machete to hack through the hormones in the air.

As soon as I got back in the car, I got hit with this:

Dominic: At least the thots we liked last year were cute. These are obnoxious and covered in acne. These seventh and eighth graders are awful. Gideon is more mature than any of them.

Gideon, an eighth grader: I really am. It’s true.

Dominic: He can take a hit too.

Me: Wait. What?

Apparently they went to a nearby park before DD to play football.

And that’s why they didn’t want me to pick them up too soon. And ignored my texts.

Dominic: I saw your question mark. Mama, we was out with the boys.

(Gideon informed me it’s supposed to be written this way: “We was out wit da bois.” Shudder.)

During said football game, Dominic had a run-in with a tree.

He saw it as an occasion to go into full drama mode.

I do have to tell you all that he’s been mostly great since he started ninth grade. More from Friday:

Dominic: There are three girls who said they caught feelings for me.

Me: Do you like any of them?

Dominic: Naw. I gotta get me those As.

(Not with that grammar you don’t. But I digress.)

It’s true that the notifications I’ve been getting from Campus Parent have not made my blood pressure spike.

And I made him laugh this week too. We were trying to edge into traffic, and I wanted to slide in front of a particular car.

Me: I’m going to slip in here because Drake isn’t paying attention.

Dominic: [Looks up from his phone to see my reference.]

Me: [Pulling in front and waving] Thanks, KeKe!

Dominic: [Looks at me in shock and actually chuckles.]

Me: You’re impressed I knew that aren’t you?

Dominic: Yes, because you listen to this [referencing The Pixies coming out of the speaker]!

Me: Listen: They were a seminal act of the late ’80s.

Dominic: [Exaggerated eye roll]

So, friends, I’m hoping we’ve turned a corner. (Don’t tell me it won’t last. Let me have my delusions.)

Cautiously optimistic,
Beth

 

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