I get up anywhere from 5:30 to 7:30, depending on when I got to bed and if I needed extra sleep. AT 5:30 there’d be time for a walk, run or bike and shower, if medium, a leisurely breakfast and morning reading, if late, then coffee and a bowl of breakfast at my computer. In any case, no half hour commute, no extra hour or two of unpaid class prep to fit in. And there is grace and flexibilty about starting time and work hours.
Feed dog and cat. Drink my latte as I gaze at the morning light, instead of sipping it reheated at my desk in the classroom. Breakfast is the same–I never did rush that, never will.
I can address dishes and counter messes with more thoroughness than before, and there are more of them. I have additional housemates, with two daughters and their boyfriends temporarily moved in—one couple in a camper out front, the other in what was becoming my sewing room. Their job prospects have dwindled or dried up. House sharing issues remain, but we are getting into a better routine and sharing responsibilities. As I remind the young people periodically, am not the housekeeper, not the breadwinner except my youngest. If I choose to cover the others’ expenses it will shield them from reality and not be helpful in the long run. If they are genuinely doing their best and not able to make ends meet, we will talk. We regularly have conversations about what is owed and what is given. If anyone eats from the garden, they should weed or water in return.
If there’s time before work I check on my seedlings (there are more than ever due to extra time at home), harvest and weed a little, checked out by the local hummingbirds, scan for growth. next tasks to tackle after work, jobs to assign to my kids. Grass is getting long and rain is on the way. Dog turds need to be scooped and buried. But that’s afternoon work, for the kids.
I login on work laptop around 8. I’ve brought my adjustable sit-stand desk converter home, hooked up to a large monitor so I can easily switch to view my home PC when the work is done. Check email, web-based chat and call appointments for the day, make a mental to do list.
Since I am, by law, not emergency remote teaching as I would be now at a regular school, but rather supporting homeschooling families on hold from on campus classes, there are no lessons to create, no assigning, printing, grading. No tweaking seating arrangements, no creating activity groups or props, no booking laptops, tech or lab setup. While teachers in the regular system struggle to prioritize learning targets for the last months of school, upskill in new tech, record video lessons, and upload or deliver materials, my load is actually lighter now. I produce a weekly newsletter with suggested resources for biology and math, check in with each student by , and with the rest of my time, collect resources, get familiar with new technologies for likely new models of teaching, work on next year’s physics units, and build up resources for teaching science to all ages and no math, which is the plan for next year.
It’s still quiet in the house, the young people sleeping in, even my normally early bird youngest. Except to see one daughter sleepily carry her little dog out to the back yard, I see little of the five of them until after ten, sometimes later. I might record another chapter of Wild Season by Allan Eckert for posting on my teacher website. Though my students’ classes used to begin at 8:30, now I assume calls should not start until 10 am unless prearranged. I search out new resources, update paperwork–who have I contacted, who’s got back to me, notes, respond to emails, Until I feel a need to move.
This is tomato start month, so there are plants to repot, set in the sun, and water. A few runts to cull, orders to arrange, deliveries to plan, updates to post, requests for pots to send out. Other plant to start and care for as well for my own garden and a few friends. More people than ever are growing gardens and interested, though it’s in ones or twos for tomatoes. I will be planting at least a dozen for my own use fresh, dried, canned and frozen, and for a roadside veggie stand. Cutting expenses and building savings in case my job goes away. Cost for tomatoes not including labor, about $80. Income $100-$200, food savings more than that, environmental footprint reduction, unknown but significant.
Late morning to afternoon I run online chats with individual students & mom (it’s always mom) or a group. I’ve learned to turn off the option for students to change their names or post messages, and bring a few sharing prompts. I ask students hanging out muted without video coverage to make their presence known. I encourage students to address questions to one another, add to what others are saying, indicate with a hand signal they wish to speak. The science meeting this week was good—several students shared what they were reading and learning so I built on those. one was reading a scientific article in her area of interest, poultry nutrition, and another shared what he’d learned about a sleep study conducted by Russian scientists. Several weighed in on the ethics of using human subjects for such studies, and considered the tendency of scientists to try things because they could, and the need to have ethics and values be part of the process.
The day flies by. I pout in a last few phone calls to students who have not made contact yet, and my work day is done. There’s still plenty of daylight. Time to connect with the kids, coordinate chores, organize the garage or shed , spend an hour or two gardening, or jump on my bike for a training ride. The triathlon, the first ever I’ve signed up for, is cancelled, but training is still on.
Like many others I have been able to catch up on projects at home. After needing one for years, I finally built a roadside stand table and will be able to attach accessories next week to discourage deer grazing and secure payments. As I sawed and drilled, I had to marvel at the new mental bandwidth that allowed me to clearly see how it should be done, while before, not only was I lacking time and energy during the school year, but also mental focus for creativity and problem solving at home. After a week or so of recovery in June, it would slowly return for summer work, but I had forgotten that my mind was capable of figuring out most things, even where I lack experience as in woodworking. As the routine at the computer gets more streamlined, my plan is to include in my work day some work on science teaching props such as tools for exploring magnetism, electricity, and wave properties, teaching games, demo, lab, and activity kits. Also filming demos, gardening activities, and happenings in nature.
Throughout the rest of yy day I am reflecting on how this phase of life will affect educational outcomes, study habits, attitudes toward learning, home, family, self. So many variables have been tweaked. I have predictions to make, and want to look up others’ writing on these topics as well as create my own. We are always learning.