This is my space...
I decided to change my view this week. Call it Feng Shui or Marie Kondo, I finally realized my overall uneasiness was due to having my business and personal lives in the same room and without discernible boundaries. In the first few weeks of safer at home, it was like playing fort in the living room. Items not usually allowed in play suddenly had a purpose. I added an extra leaf to the dining room table, added a power strip and my new office space was born. Half of the table must remain for eating together, I proclaimed. There was enough space there to have a tablecloth on one half and the other half littered with pen organizers, sticky notes, clipboards and cords to a computer, a scanner and a Doc Camera. The problem with this set-up became glaringly apparent on Saturday. I was at the counter, breaking down a pineapple and listening to Alexa’s Joe Bonamassa playlist. Alexa and I have become better in tune with one another during this pandemic. Her jokes are horrible, but she listens. All the time. Anyway, I looked up and saw the computer. I instantly thought of the emails to answer, the assignments to grade and the overall work that was awaiting me for my next “workday.” But my work days have become blurry. My son works at night so for a few hours during the day, I spend time with him and then work in the evening. Sometimes I lose hours and put in more than an 8 hour day. But what’s new there for teachers, right? I shifted slowly to the left attempting to use the sunflowers by the sink as a block to my view of the office space. I still couldn’t get the whole set-up out of my line of vision and the thoughts that accompanied the sight of papers, writing tools, and technology. My classroom and office—the dining room table with the extra leaf. I needed my dining room table back. I finished the pineapple, switched Alexa to 80s hits and unplugged everything. I switched off, cabled up and transferred everything to a holding place in the hallway. I took the extra leaf out and placed a red and green striped runner down the middle of the table. I took the couch cushions off the hard back chairs (because sitting for hours requires some comfort, come on!) and reset my dining room area. I rummaged through the cabinet for a set of candles and placemats. My table hadn’t looked this good in months and it is going to stay that way. The next morning, I walked down the stairs, opened the blinds, threw open the windows and said good morning to my space. Not my classroom or office space. My personal space. Things are looking up.
Technology Trends In the Classroom: “Is it compatible with Google Classroom?”
In the Zoom classroom this week with teacher candidates, we have been discussing technology trends. We discussed Zoom fatigue, bandwidth failure, and wifi hotspots. We highlighted the virtues of ScreenCast o'matic and playing Kahoot over a Zoom class meeting. Through all this, it has become apparent that our classrooms may look very different in the fall. There isn’t any use speculating or preparing. But there is an imperative, I think, to be prepared with a mindset of creativity and flexibility. It will be important to establish routines and use quality resources. Our time will become even more precious if class sizes and class times are whittled down. If a hybrid class becomes the norm. If all desks must face the same way - collaborative work spaces and facing each other around a table are out. How will this new situation play out in the classroom? It is evident that quality student resources and flexible teacher resources will be key for success in the classroom this fall. But “compatible with Google Classroom''—will this be the new benchmark for a resource used in the classroom?
I miss Lotusland.
Many businesses are offering resources that are supportive and yet so indicative of our new lifestyle. I just received an email from Lotusland offering “Zoom backgrounds” for my next meeting. But I don’t want a background. I want to stroll through quiet spaces and marvel at plants. I want to step outside of the real world for just a brief amount of time and walk, unhindered. I haven’t been for months and I’ve been satisfying my plant needs with views through Instagram and online drone videos. Beautiful, but not the same. Last week, the email finally came. Lotusland was selling roses, begonias, and cut flowers for Mother’s Day gifts. I ordered the Julia Child Rose. For myself. Just thinking about the drive to Lotusland and the thought of driving through those gates put a smile on my face. Out of pre-pandemic habit, I switched on Waze to see the drive time patterns and the image to the left was the warning was on my screen. “Only drive if you must.” Hesitating for a fraction of a second, I said to myself, I must. My mental health and well-being depends on the blossoms of a plant. I have not shopped for plant starts or put my hands in earth for too long. I thanked Waze for wishing me health and safety, made sure I had my mask, gloves, and hand wipes in the car and I settled in with an Audible book and the sun roof open. They greeted me like an old friend at Lotusland and ushered me around to the pickup area. The rose bush was blooming and a lot taller than I thought it would be. I decided my new friend Julia could ride in the back seat, protected and comfortable in a grocery crate. This post opens with my selfie with Julia in the back seat. I couldn’t be more thrilled. Can you see my smile?
Bread in a cast iron pan. Because, why not? I don’t have any fancy bread crocks and I’m pretty sure bread has been made using basic tools for a very long time. It was delicious. I’m getting pretty good at this bread making thing. A bonus feature of the pandemic, to be sure.
Camille Kavon, a Lecturer in the Teacher Education Program, is safer at home in Oxnard with her son Hayden. Her last day on a K-8 school campus was March 13th and she is currently a remote learning instructor for 132 middle school students. In between emails, teaching and planning sessions, Camille has discovered she loves baking bread.