So as of now we are supposed to return to work on April 6th. Of course after Betsy Price’s announcement this morning issuing a “Stay at Home” order I really doubt we will be returning. It is so weird to think about the possibility that we won’t be going back to school this year. I can honestly say that I am not missing my students a whole lot but it does seem sad that I won’t see them again this year.

The other uncertainty in my life is about what I am going to be doing next year. I will either be teaching Dual Credit English or possibly working in a curriculum department which would be my dream job.

My poor son was able to visit two colleges before all this Coronavirus thing has shutdown the whole world. I was hoping we would be able to eliminate a college or two this spring but it doesn’t seem like that would be possible.

I am thankful that my relationship and my kids are at least one bright spot in my life. I am in love and happy with my boyfriend. I am thankful for my beautiful children. It is weird for the four of us to be together all the time but so far we are handling it well.

Extended Spring Break

So as a teacher I have been on Spring Break this last week and a few hours ago we were informed that our school district would be extending the break for additional two weeks. This announcement came an hour or so after my son’s school had already decided to extend their spring break for two weeks. My eldest child is in college and their spring break is set to start next week but they have already extended it a week and plan to start online only classes on March 30th. It is insane to think that we are actually living through something like this in our lifetimes. You would think with our advanced healthcare capabilities that we could find a way to get a handle on this without all the disruptions to life. I understand that most of the closures will end up being unnecessary and that school’s are erring on the side of caution but it is so hard to believe this is really happening. My boyfriend and I were talking earlier today about the virus and what the likelihood was that we would eventually contract it and it made me think of movies and video games. We have had so many movies released with themes that dealt with crazy viruses spreading and wiping out the population or video games with similar themes. I am a firm believer in the fact that you can’t be afraid of everything or you won’t live your life but at times like these it is hard to know what the right way to respond really is for people. I know our President is trying to limit travel Internationally but we still have people in highly infected areas like Seattle and California traveling to other parts of the United States. How is leaving an infected area in our country any different than one in Europe? I know it would be difficult for the President to restrict travel in our country but I wonder if maybe he should. We are already at a point where people are being told to contact health officials if they are worried about their health before showing up at doctor’s offices and hospitals. Testing is still limited in this country and there are people that can pass on the virus that don’t exhibit symptoms. Is there really a way to protect ourselves? I literally stood in a line at Costco this morning that went to the back of the store.  The store itself was so crowded that you could barely find an area to push buggies through the store. We had way too many people in that store at one time if you consider the current warnings about the virus. I hope that things will calm down soon and that people will stop giving in to the hysteria that is causing them to buy things they don’t need. We have no idea how long this virus is going to continue too rapidly spread so we need to focus on our own actions at the moment. I hope everyone reading this is able to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy during this trying time.

Keeping It Together

So I started listening to a book today called Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. It is an interesting book for me because it is about all those things that make you feel like a failure in life and how to get past them. I don’t usually read self-help books but one of the other teachers in my English Department told me all about it. I have to say that although I only listened for about twenty minutes, it is really pretty cool so far. One of the things she stresses in her book is the idea that you are in charge of your own destiny and your own happiness. She also says that the only way you will be happy is to take control of your own life. I really love this thought because I have always tried to be one of those people that takes control of my life to make it better. I haven’t always been in the best physical shape the way I would like but I never give up. If I let things get bad then I just start from where I am and make it better. I have managed to complete a master’s degree as a single mom and full time teacher so I know that anything is possible if you really want to make it happen. I am currently working on my Dual Credit English Certification which has required more graduate level classes and more stressful juggling between my children, my job and school. I have always been a hard worker and the last few years I have just learned how to manage my time even better than when I was younger.

I can honestly say that my life is better right now than it has been in a really long time. I am in a very loving relationship with an incredibly generous and loving man. My children are well on their way to having successful futures with just a bit more guidance. My job is not perfect but I have one and it is relatively close to home. I have everything I need and plenty more that is just gravy. I know that my attitude is part of what has made my life better and I try and continue to stay positive and believe that I can do the things I want to do.

Turning Over a New Leaf

So I have tried online dating so many times in the last ten years since my first divorce. I even met my second husband through an online dating site. The problem with online dating is that it never really works out for me. You talk to someone remotely interesting and then they just completely ghost you for no reason. I am not someone that wants to jump into marriage or even into a serious relationship but I would like to know that the person I am investing time in at least would consider those things with me. I know that I need to try something new and that’s why I am going to try a dating company that matches you with people. I have tried it on my own with no luck so maybe this will be more efficient. I guess I will just have to see how it works out. I have my final pre-screening meeting with them next Saturday so I will have a better idea after that meeting. I just know that I have to try something new because right now I feel like I am banging my head against the wall. My kids will be graduated and gone soon and I will be left alone. I don’t want to spend my life alone. I really want to be able to share my life with someone meaningful and worth the time and effort.

Civil Discourse

I have been studying about civil discourse all week as I have prepared to complete my second project in my rhetoric class. I have never unfriended someone because they disagreed with me and I have never shied away from a healthy debate. I will say that some people just don’t understand the nature of civil discourse. I think it is so important to support our right to free speech in this country but free speech doesn’t mean you have to be judgmental or  tear people down just because they have different ideas or opinions from you. Many of the articles I have read describe the consistent issue of incivility between people threatening our very democracy. I would hate to think that we could lose our democracy in this country because people don’t know how to suppress their rude and nasty thoughts. I think this happens online even more than in face-to-face communication because people feel more freedom online. I have seen the effects of bullying, cyberbullying and all around rudeness on the recipients. We are a country full of division and hate right now. Instead of embracing people and their ideas we have chosen to polarize ourselves into bubbles of our own making. Expressing opinions is very difficult for some people and when others chastise those opinions for spite than we create a situation where no one feels comfortable speaking their mind. I chose to live outside the box when it comes to my choices. I would challenge anyone to put themselves in someone else’s shoes before you make judgement against them. We are all flawed and when held up to a microscope we all have skeletons we would like to keep hidden. Civil discourse allows people to listen to others and not just listen in order to respond. Our country needs to heal not continually be cast into another turmoil because of political or social unrest. We are all spoiled in this country and we act like we shouldn’t have to appreciate what we have. There are so many other places that have real problems to worry about like whether or not they will have water the next day. We have had good fortune in this country for so long that we are taking it for granted. I choose to spread kindness to my fellow man and not hate. I definitely think that is a choice that we all have to make for ourselves.

Fake News

So for my first project in my rhetoric class I choose to do a lesson on fake news.  I have now read four articles dealing with fake news in the last two days. I knew from my own experiences on Facebook and Twitter that fake news is every where. I have also realized that you have to be extraordinarily careful when it comes to what you read on the Internet. The thing I didn’t realize before my research is that students have a really hard time distinguishing fake news from the truth or real news. Apparently Stanford University did a study on it and they determined that middle schoolers,  high schoolers, and college students struggle to understand the difference between fake news, sponsored news and real news. I knew from my own experiences that students struggle to find reliable sources for research but I never realized that it was so hard for them to distinguish the truth. I am starting to think that forcing students to use databases when researching has added to the problem.  When a student uses a database all the sources are already vetted so they don’t have to worry about their reliability. Without meaning too, teachers are reinforcing the issue of students not knowing how to decipher reliable and unreliable material in their world. Three out of the four articles I have read have included a picture of a strange plant mutation that has been credited to Japan without any proof or information about its location.  This picture alluded the students in the Stanford Study because they took the image at face value without needing any type of proof to believe the claims. Here is the image:

Nuclear Plant Damage in Japan

I agree that the image is disturbing but there is no way to know whether or not it has been tapered with when you aren’t being given an exact location of the existence of the plant itself. My own daughter who is very Internet and computer savvy even told me yesterday that it is sometimes difficult to tell real news from fake news. Teenagers today are inundated with information from the time they get up until they go to bed. Most of them have smart phones, laptops or even IPads/tablets to peruse for that information. YouTube has become another source of entertainment and information for teenagers across the country. My children are always talking about something they saw or heard on YouTube. I think my kids are smart enough to decipher most things but they are still struggling with the influx of so much information. I know that our school curriculums don’t really allow enough time for more media study, but I also know that if our kids aren’t taught how to interpret what they see than we may be in trouble in the future. I think there are lots of ways to incorporate mini lessons with fake news whether it is simply having students write about a picture you show them and then have them research that picture’s origin or just showing them videos with bias or fake information to open up the lines of communication within the classroom. It is easy for all of us to make mistakes when it comes to fake news, especially if we are looking at it quickly and not really paying attention to its source. Another study that was conducted on the fake news spread on Twitter pointed out that it is usually the everyday people with fewer followers that spread the most fake news. That fact should make all of us sit up and take notice because we are all responsible for the problem and we all need to be ready to participate in the solution. If you are interested in reading about the information in the articles that I have researched I am including the citations here.

Articles Consulted in Research:

Domonoske, Camila. “Students Have ‘Dismaying’ Inability To Tell Fake News From Real, Study Finds.” NPR, NPR, 23 Nov. 2016, www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/23/503129818/study-finds-students-have-dismaying-inability-to-tell-fake-news-from-real.

Matteson, Addie. “Teaching News Literacy? Check Your Own Bias, Says Librarian.” School Library Journal, 27 Feb. 2017, http://www.slj.com/2017/02/industry-news/teaching-news-literacy-check-your-own-bias-says-librarian/#_

Resnick, Brian. “False News Stories Travel Faster and Farther on Twitter than the Truth.” Vox, Vox, 8 Mar. 2018, www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/3/8/17085928/fake-news-study-mit-science.

Schulten, Katherine and Amanda Christy Brown. “Evaluating sources in a ‘Post-Truth’ World: Ideas for Teaching and Learning about Fake News.” The New York Times, lesson plan, 19 Jan. 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/learning/lesson-plans/evaluating-sources-in-a-post-truth-world-ideas-for-teaching-and-learning-about-fake-news.html?_r=1