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Ida’s Wild Ride, a Pandemic, and I Want my Kids to Write.

September 12, 2021

I thought my wireless was back up and running a few days ago, but ’twas not to be. Only for one day, and down again. So, in order to write a post on my computer (as opposed to using my iPhone), I have less than an hour sitting in a ghost town of a room at my gym.

My district resumes classes tomorrow (09-13-21) after two weeks out for Hurricane Ida’s wild ride. As for goals for my students, my mind is on one in particular: My students need to write.

I have a major research assignment planned for my seniors, but it seems that life ups the ante when it comes to challenges in workshopping my students with a major research paper. First is the fact that young people chiefly communicate in abbreviations suited to brief bits of info conveyed via texting and social media. Forget complete sentences, spelling, and proper grammar and puntuation.

Next is the incredible ease with which online technology has streamlined the ability to cheat or to plaigiarize. Why actually learn when any number of websites or applications will help one avoid learning, many of them for free? I feel like my job is increasingly more of a forensic gig in ferreting out the latest means to secure fabulous grades while ensuring one’s own ignorance.

A third issue for me this year (and for many of my colleagues) involves large class sizes. My classes are the largest that I have ever had in my entire teaching career, and this in the midst of the Delta variant. I have managed to arrange my classroom for decent spacing, but in the case of workshopping writing, I wonder, how will I be able to adequately assist each individual student? Last year, this workshopping experience had me as close to burnout as I have come yet. I did not burn out, and I do not plan to do so this year. However, the challenge before me is daunting.

I do have a couple of points of leverage. First of all, I feel supported by my school administration. My class is not micromanaged, which gives me room to have the margin necessary to (re)arrange in order to try to ensure an environment conducive to learning. Secondly, I have cultivated a relationship with my students, which really matters when I need to enlist their assistance in helping me help them learn. (This relationship cultivation even helps when I am working to ferret out the cheating– there seems to always be some student for whom the teacher-student relational respect overcomes the temptation to lie to me or to otherwise keep quiet.)

So, it is tough. Ida’s wild ride piled it on at a time when COVID had already piled it on. but I will continue to navigate the wildness in an effort to do what teachers do– create classroom conditions conducive to learning.

And my students will write.


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  1. Christine Langhoff permalink

    Why are your classes so large this year, Mercedes?

  2. sumx2yahoocom permalink

    Mercedes, I really enjoyed this blog entry. Having taught English IV a couple of rooms from you, I admire what you are doing in the face of all of the life changing events you and your kids have endured and are enduring. Part of me wishes I was still teaching and had you down the hall. I remember coming up the hall from my car in the morning. You were always there early and I would stop in and have a chat. Yes, writing is the best skill we can teach them. If only we had the stamina and resources to keep the numbers of students at bay. Multiplication is not kind to English teachers. Godspeed to you. I am sure you are up to the task…breathe my friend.

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