On the evening of Sunday March 15th, the governor of Massachusetts ordered all districts closed until April 6. So here we are. Actually, though, I'm predicting a much longer school closure because without adequate testing levels, there will be no way to ensure public safety. It's a coin-flip whether we even have any more classes at all -- maybe just a good-bye day at the end of June?
- This is the smallest 8th grade we ever had: 82 students, which is 5-10 fewer than usual.
- They are still angsty teenagers, but generally this group is fairly respectful with adults and kind with each other. Our most 'difficult' students would have been the middle-of-the-road in some past years.
- We only had 1 prior snow day, so the last day would have been a wonderfully early June 19. (I passionately hate teaching in the heat.)
- Now that I'm in the 2nd year of teaching these new Civics standards, I feel more confident about what does and doesn't work. 2018-2019 was mostly experimentation; 2019-2020 was more theoretical and grounded.
- In particular, I thought I had a really good plan for the "Civics Day" component of the Action Civics project. Instead of last year's event, where we made every student present a portion of their completed project to a rotating audience of parents and city leaders, I think I had a better idea. We would bring in adults in the middle of the project, when students had finalized their plans for the program, bill, or whatever they wanted to advocate. It would be more like a "Shark Tank" presentation, where the students would be trying to convince the audience (particularly the School Committee members and City Councillors) to accept their idea ... but also to solicit helpful feedback about whom they should contact, what issues/people they should consider, and other next steps. That was going to happen last Wednesday (March 18), and then we would have class discussions about what to do next, how/when to continue pursuing their plan, etc. They would have written individual reflections about the experience, which I would assess officially as the project grade. Going forward, maybe we would have Civics Friday at the end of the last few weeks, when I set aside the current unit so students could continue the project and report progress to each other.
It's probably not helpful to whine in blog form, but I wanted to get these ideas out there -- at least as a reminder to myself about what I thought was going to happen. A fair amount of planning went into this Civics Day thing, which maybe can get a reboot in 2021. It may help to look back here next winter to re-spark my brain.
And the most significant events of this COVID outbreak probably haven't happened yet. We might also look back on this mid-March period as the "simpler times". But I hope we're just overreacting and it won't come to that. I do not yet know anybody who has contracted this coronavirus, or who lost a relative/friend. How long will it stay that way??