Why wreck shop?


The third bombing was the worst. As if this job isn’t tough enough, I had some outsider use our school counselor’s name to join my Thursday Geometry Zoom class. The counselor coming into class is not an unusual thing as she enters and puts in the Chat box who she would like to see, I then put her in a breakout room with whatever student or students she needs to talk to then I go back to teaching about angle measurement.


What is unusual is when the person entering is not the counselor and they start talking whack and disrupting the class. The first time it was inappropriate things to other students, the second was writing on my screen during art class (I figured out who that one was) and today it was making fun of my forehead and spewing comments which will not be repeated on this family platform.


25 years teaching alternative high school students gives me a pretty high shenanigan threshold but there’s a bigger problem at play here.


See, this distance learning thing is tough, and not for the reasons you might think. It’s tough because we are not doing what most teachers got into teaching to do. Course, I can only speak for myself, but what I do day to day these days is my least favorite part of teaching. Yes, book learning is important, yes measuring an angle is important but there is so much more to this job and right now it’s just not possible to do the enriching things that make high school fun.


All the stuff that can’t be put in a data chart: homecoming, the haunted houses, cleaning Nathanson Creek, carving pumpkins, Thanksgiving for 60, fieldtrips, walking to the museum, graffiti abatement crew, plus sports, oh how I miss sports. And yes, we are having some fun in art classes and biology and physical science and sometimes algebra and geometry but online connectivity is just not the same as in-person connection.


Oh, and a little message to all the suits who are comparing this year to any other-please stop now-there has never been a year like this one and the quicker you realize that, the better we will all be. What I mean is that it’s unprecedented, brand new and there is no rule book (my favorite line-“we are flying the plane as its being built”) so stop comparing it to any other time and certainly stop thinking that somehow we will be able to meet student needs in the same way we once did. The rubric has changed. Distance learning is crisis learning, some will thrive, some will just get by and some will not be able to learn right now and that’s OK.


But learning is happening, innovation is happening, and most importantly we are all doing the best we are capable of doing. I recently had a problem with IXL, the platform I use for my math classes, within about an hour of sending an inquiry I had responses from two people at IXL and Elizabeth Kaufman at the district office, problem solved, teacher supported. I also am doing a series of videos called “How Sonoma Works” and every time I inquire with someone in the community the response is amazingly supportive. People want to help, we are in this together, unity wins.


Evolution occurs when an adaptation causes something to improve with an organism then that trait gets passed on because that organism has an advantage over others. There has been a lot of wrecking shop in the last 7 months but I believe it will lead to evolution. Racism, the environment, incarceration, and yes, schools will all come out a little more evolved from this experience especially when we have leaders who understand this.


Our country got Boaty McBoatfaced four years ago (Google it, it’s a funny/scary story) but now we should know better. The shop is more than a little wrecked right now and yes Corona had a lot to do with it but so did a lack of unifying and intelligent leadership in a time of crisis. It’s way past time to Make America Smart Again, to elect leaders who make news because of their policies not their personalities, to unify instead of separate.


And if you still want to bomb in and wreck shop in my classes, please stop and remember that we are in this together.







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