2020 Lockdown: Week One

For the past week, Americans have been isolated in their homes to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus. In my school district we’ve had two days of district learning, which for me has gone smoothly. My students are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, especially the seniors — which is most of my students. The last semester of the final year of high school is supposed to be a time of relief and partying, celebrating the finish line coming into sight. Their celebrating must now happen in their own homes, with only family around.

Aside from walking our dog Tito and weekly trips to the private dog park (only one dog allowed inside at a time), we’ve been fine. It’s annoying for us to miss out on regular patterns of behavior (brunch, seeing friends), but not too bad. I spend lots of my free time staring at this computer screen anyway, so most of my patterns haven’t been upended.

My spirits have been good, and I’ve shared some of my mental approaches in a piece on Facebook that several folks have found useful. (Today I’m hoping to make a web version of that piece with pictures and links.) I’ve been exercising regularly, which is great. Usually I don’t have the energy after school, or I feel like my time is so precious that I don’t want to spend it on a stationary bike.

It’s Spring Break, which is both great and sad. Again, most of this time for me is usually spent playing video games and doing computer stuff (writing, etc), so not much has changed. It’s a nice relief to put my School Brain on pause. It has been chugging away, even though I haven’t had classes to teach.

The classes themselves have always been my favorite part of teaching, and for now they’re gone. I’ve got virtual office hours with the Zoom teleconference software, but very few students have dropped in.

This is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, teaching is exhausting. I’m on stage for 90 minutes, and every day I need to have fresh interesting stuff that will push my students along. I feel like I do most of the lifting. Students always say that my high-energy style makes all the difference. So for now I don’t have to expend all that energy.

But I miss the classes. I miss my students. I miss my coworkers. We communicate over email, but it’s obviously not the same thing. This is my biggest social change of the whole lockdown, and it’s significant. I really hope I can see my students again before the school year ends in June. (I don’t even want to think about the chaotic logistics of final exams and graduation in lockdown.)

BTW: The image to the right is from some random website. That’s not my classroom, but it’s not too dissimilar.

Over breakfast just now, I learned that a friend in Colorado is in the hospital with pneumonia and a chest tube. That’s the closest the COVID-19 disease has come to my circle, and of course I’m worried for her. I have another friend in town whose children have cystic fibrosis. It’s easy for the most healthy among us to revel in glib attitudes, but it’s important to remember how serious this all is for people outside our own little bubbles.

So that’s it for week one. As ever, Diane and I are taking it one day at a time, being here now as much as we can, and counting our blessings. I hope you’re able to do the same.