New school year 2022
Summer is over and I'm back at work. I taught summer school to adults in August, the first time I'd ever taught adults, but I'm glad to be back into a regular routine. August was a difficult month, so I'm glad to have a fresh start.
I'm working as an Integration Support Teacher again, this year at one elementary school in Surrey. I'm the only IST at a small school and it's an enormous amount of work. Things appear to be going ok, somewhat, but it's a lot of responsibility and a lot of headwork. I'm finding it very hard to stay motivated with fitness and healthy eating. I need to get my body back into the zone of teaching after a rather inconsistent summer.
I'm coming into the new school year with the hopes to, if I have the self-confidence for it, apply to the administration pool for next year. I'd like to put this Master's in Education that I received back in 2016 to work. Life has been very busy since then, but I'm hoping that I'm in a place where I have the skills and experience to take on some new responsibilities.
Music and photography-wise, I'm feeling a little exhausted. It's difficult to focus on many of the small things that I used to enjoy doing: learning new songs, printing out new songs, writing and practicing, taking a drive to a good photography location. I don't really know what to do there. I've considered selling off a bunch of the portrait photography paraphernalia that I've acquired over the last five years: studio lights, softboxes, backdrops, etc.. All that stuff feels like a weight around my neck of sorts, stuff that says I should be able to use it more often, but I can't seem to get the energy to do it.
Life is generally good, but I'd like something to pep me up. That's all.
I feel as if I'm suffering from a creative block right now, both in music and photography. I've gone through this sort of thing for a very long time, but it feels rather acute right now. I can't seem to conceptualize anything: no visions for interesting photographs, no melodies or lyrics to work with. I don't want to dwell on the problems of creative block, though. I'd rather try to pin down some solutions.
In no particular order:
I miss creating. I miss feeling like I wrote a worthwhile song, or took an interesting photo. Here's to hoping that, as the days get longer, my creativity can flourish again.
Working from home.
I know that things are rough on the other side of the border, and that we've been dealing with a pandemic, but I don't really have anything to add to the conversation there. Although I listen to the news constantly and it fills me with both trepidation and anger, I have nothing to say about it. I hope for some meaningful peace on American streets soon.
I've been working from home for the last month. I've found it difficult; sometimes I feel like I'm floundering. The things that make teaching worthwhile—joking with students, a-ha moments, problem solving—just don't come off the same through a computer screen. Some of my students have produced some really excellent work in this quarantine; still, it's tough to internalize it when mediated through a screen.
This may be the way of the future in education, but it seems inefficient. Education is already an inherently inefficient system—packing a bunch of kids into rooms isn't exactly practical—but keeping everyone behind a screen, well, it just doesn't seem to work as well. It feels less like I'm teaching the content, more like I'm teaching the platform. I find this uncomfortable because it muddies the waters between content and training. I know we all need to be confident when we move from platform to platform, but it also seems a little hard on the brain, which seems to tire as it bounces between platforms, sorta' like flipping channels too quickly on a television set.
I'd like to believe that, if we'd started the year with the assumption that online education would be the norm, we'd do better. Our school is already accustomed to Google Classroom for the students, which is acceptable, but limited. As soon as the pandemic hit, we had to lean far too heavily on Google Classroom. Albeit robust, it's also a limited mode. Perhaps more importantly, it makes me an agent of Google's advertising: I, the teacher, use Google Classroom, and thereby suggest that Google/Alphabet, the corporation, is good. When activities cannot be easily created and submitted through Google Classroom, students get discouraged, and this discouragement reinforces that Google is good; they feel that assignments that can be completed on Google Classroom are easier, and therefore better. I don't like being a vector of corporate propaganda in this way. I hope we can adopt a better, less corporate, system soon.
Many people, at the beginning of quarantine, said "What will we do with all this time?" They had big goals to learn new things, to use the time in productive ways. I aimed to restart my self-directed piano and French lessons. However, admittedly, this hasn't worked as well as I'd hoped it would. I've played piano, but not very much; I've done some French, but I certainly haven't made it a daily habit. When I likely have time during my work-from-home workday, it's also hard to focus on personal goals when I know I'm supposed to be working at my job. And then I apply some more guilt on myself for not using my time more productively, even for myself. I feel very tired a lot; motivation has been hard to muster.
A few years ago, I finished my Masters In Educational Leadership, with the intention to find my way into school administration. However, I haven't found my way into that field yet. I realized at the beginning of this quarantine that this could be a good opportunity to find some ways to capitalize on this unique opportunity. But instead I got kinda' bogged down in the process, and now I wonder if I'm administrative material at all. As the school year starts to close, I still wonder if I've mis-aimed my goals. It wouldn't be the first time.
But overall things are ok. Not having to drive to school has saved hundreds of dollars in gas costs. I'm getting by and hope to enjoy teaching again soon.
And really, I can't complain about anything.
I haven't written here for quite some time—I haven't felt like I've had much to say—but I think I'll try to think a little through writing here.
Due to the covid-19 pandemic, I haven't been very social. This has been largely because I've been quite busy. For the last week I've been preparing for school as a distance learning teacher, for example. I've never taught distance learning before and look forward to the challenge, but I also dread being a vector of corporate branding; our school has regrettably depended upon Google's "Classroom" platform. But strange times lead to strange bedfellows, like me and the Google platform. For the time being, in our district, Google's the only feasible way to make the information work.
I've moved in with my partner. This means I've moved out of Agassiz and to New Westminster, close to Vancouver. We moved here at the beginning of March, expecting me to commute to Agassiz for work for at least the remainder of the year. However, the pandemic offered me a solution on this front: stay home... in New West. This will save an enormous amount of time and money, both of which are hard to come by.
I'm happy to have moved in with my partner. It's a bit of a surprise that it worked out. I had kind-of given up hope mid-February that we could find a place to live that fit our mutual professional and personal needs. But then... we found this. And it worked out. And I'm grateful.
The pandemic, however, also decreased the availability of gigs and supplementary work. I had done regular music gigs in Harrison Hot Springs until September, and then followed that with a few months of dog-walking. However, both of those opportunities have disappeared since the pandemic hit, so I have to live without the extra influx of cash each month, which I admittedly got used to. So be it; I can do it.
And that's all. Just for the sake of an update.
Stay safe. Wash your hands.
My friend Katrina Ryan helped me make an Electronic Press Kit. Here it is!
And here's the direct link:
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