At a staff meeting, administration admonished us to make our online presence less searchable. "Use a pseudonym," I paraphrase, "because we've heard some terrible stories about things people have done to teachers online. It might not even be you; it might be something somebody else tags you in."
For a moment, I considered it. I thought, Yeah, my online presence isn't meaningful enough to me for me to care about. I could pseudonym.
Then I realized just how beyond help I am for that.
I don't want to be anonymous. I have no interest in being anonymous online. I may not go as far as @elibosnick does in using my real name, but the vast majority of my online names are "jeffnords" or a variant of it. I have many reasons for this.
Facebook is still a special case. If there was any place to use a pseudonym, it would be for my personal Facebook profile. Although I've eased up on my personal Facebook ban and I've started paying a little more attention to the Facebook community, clicking "likes" and making comments here and there, I haven't done a purge for a while and I might, one of these nights, delete my recent activity on the site again. Facebook still straddles the public and private spheres in ways I'm not comfortable with. It still creates circles of "friends" that don't seem to mean much in real life. And it seems to be, by the nature of its interactions, cause the most trouble for people. So I'll continue to treat it with the utmost caution.
Perhaps, if and when I apply to work in administration myself, I'll reconsider. Perhaps some of my vulnerable rants and posts will seem childish and unprofessional. Then I might change my tack.
But for now, Jeffrey Nordstrom is my online identity and that's fine. I've traded away my privacy (see below) and I'm banking that it will work out for me in the long run.
5 different English classes, three of them with over 27 students.
And a play going on at the same time. AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
(You can sort-of see my hairline way down in the right-hand row there, my elbow on the table.)
I mean, it's all gonna' be great... but it's gonna' be crazy.
I haven't really done any planning for the coming school year. I filled my summer with distractions: work, visiting Vancouver Island, and attempts to rest and relax. In spare moments, I couldn't seem to develop the get-to-it-ive-ness needed to really start planning for something as cognitively taxing as the coming school year. So I didn't.
But I'm here now.
Today we had a Professional Day presentation from somebody with a pretty good handle on the ins and outs of the new BC Curriculum. I'm hoping it rekindles a little of my enjoyment of teaching and helps me feel a little more like my work has a lasting effect on people. I miss that feeling.
A few years into my teaching, it felt pretty natural, like it was an extension of myself. I felt like I could come to the school and navigate it naturally, and it didn't seem to drain my resources too much. I could come to the school in the evening or afternoon and focus on my work and enjoy it, and I genuinely felt like I was getting stuff done.
The last few years, however, haven't felt that way. Admittedly, I've been very distracted: separation, drama, and fatigue can make it difficult to focus on work. Come to think of it, my inability to internalize my practice coincides with my inability to write or finish writing a song. Perhaps I'm just in a drained-creativity mode, whether in career or leisure.
But I hope that acting on some of my more progressive desires will help me make teaching a more real part of my life, not just a job. Perhaps building an effective in-class curriculum will help me get get my head back in the game.
I've been trying to do a few other phone-related things to get my head back in a good place. I deleted Pokemon Go from my phone; it seemed to have served its purpose in getting me to get outside even when I didn't want to. And although I still think I'd enjoy it, I don't miss it. I turned off my data so I'd be less likely to check my phone constantly. I also have decided to stop listening to podcasts when I go for walks; this lets my mind wander a little and helps me to keep from constantly filling my mind with talk.
In the meantime, here I am. Starting my 10th or 11th school year, a veteran of sorts who still doesn't feel like he knows what he's doing, who still expects the "Fraud Police" to come to the door and kick him out onto the street. But chances are, things will work out. It will. It will.
Things will work out.
While housesitting for my friends in New West, I recorded two little covers for my Under the Covers with Jeff series on my YouTube channel. My friend owns a pretty-great-sounding flamenco guitar so I used it on both of them. 'Tis strange to play an acoustic when you don't usually have one around.
The first one I recorded was Robert Vaughn's "House of my Friends," an obscure little song for which I can't even find the words for on the Internet. I did my best to transcribe them, but I feel like a couple of them "missed." One day, when I track down the No Sense of History CD where I discovered it as a hidden, uncredited track, I'll post that to YouTube so people can hear the thing.
The second song I tried out, a week later, was Leonard Cohen's "Coming Back to You." This gave me a good excuse to properly learn the song's lyrics, which I'd bungled many times before. It's an interesting song because it seems to be one of his most popular songs for people to cover; it even appears twice on the Tower of Song tribute album.
I'm back in Agassiz again, but will spend four more days in Coquitlam trying to teach this ESL camp again. In the meantime I've also booked a gig at a small hotel in Harrison Hot Springs for Saturday night, my first attempt at playing live in a formal way for the last couple years, since I told myself I wasn't going to play solo anymore. I'm a little scared, but hopeful.
And I'll get to see my kids again in a couple weeks! That's the most exciting thing of all.
I have jumped on the opportunity to do some housesitting for some friends in New Westminster. I am teaching, if it can be called that, a group of Chinese 11-13 year old students in Coquitlam, so it's good to be able to live closer to that job for time and money's sake, even if it's only or a week.
I don't know if I'm a good city-liver. I may have spent too many years out in the country to handle the traffic, but I genuinely enjoy using the SkyTrain to meander around the city. Tomorrow morning I will take the SkyTrain to work for the first time ever, and I might be practically excited about it.
I'm a transit dork. But transit gives me a chance to read, to think, to not stress about traffic, and a good excuse to walk from one place to another.
A few photos I took today:
The mosquitoes have been brutal up in Agassiz, so I've been doing my runs closer to YVR when I have the chance. I've found running a useful way to explore the cities so I can get to know them better. I've discovered a little foot bridge in Coquitlam, run back and forth over the Pitt River Bridge, and explored a series of parks in New West, all with running. I kind-of hope that this housesitting venture will give me my first chance to run the seawall in Stanley Park, although I expect I will be passed by numerous chiseled, svelte native Vancouverites.
And tomorrow I will return to my sparse classroom in Coquitlam to try to get these campers to speak and listen to some English.
The Internet Archive
YouTube: ephemeral ideas