Hours of Zoom? Really?

Well, tomorrow (August 6th) is the first “official” day of the 2020-21 school year.  No doubt the beginning of a school year like none other of my 30 previous years of teaching high school music. 

On the eve of my 31st year, I have some thoughts.  I am going to take a risk and be a little more opinionated.  My goal is not for you to get pissed at me.  Your goal – not mine.  I realize folks who read this are people who know me.  They’re either going to say, “Yep.. that’s Paul and I will be with him” or “Yep, that’s Paul and I need to walk away.” 

Around 2011, a Dublin High School administrator said to me, “Paul, can’t we look at getting more people to like you?”  My answer, “No.  Getting people to like me is not my goal.  I know I go into the job loving and caring about people.  I hope they would, as well.”  Her response, “Let’s see what we can do.” 

Yesterday (August 4) and today (August 5) were really pretty cool.  From 8am-3pm both days, Diana (my wife) and I went to the school I currently work at and handed out instruments to the students.  

I will admit … it was so good to be with high school students again!  

Since March 16, 2020, due to THE VID, we have been separated from one another.  Yesterday and today were the first days I was on campus with high school students.  

Overall?  The students were terrific.  

They had masks on and if they didn’t have a mask, they were given one.  Most of them wore their masks.  Out of the hundreds … over a thousand students … I had to tell probably around ten students – at the most – to put on their mask.  

The social distancing?  To be expected.  And again … it was a small number of students who I would have loved to have said, “So, you are the students who are making it impossible for us to return on campus.”  However, that would have been shameful / mean / embarrassing and even worse for high school students and their mid-life crisis parents — the truth!  

Just the buzz to have them on campus was noticeable.  They really enjoyed being on campus.  I did too.  

Now, at 7:50pm, I am dreading tomorrow.  I feel like I am returning to isolation only this time in an empty classroom  The prison.  We begin the day with hours…. literally hours of training through ZOOM.  I am learning ZOOM and me need to be the PBS show from the Seventies!!  Not a way for me to connect with humans. 

I look at the district topics (warning – this is when I get controversial) and they are: 

  • NEP (National Equity Project);
  • Equity in the Classroom;
  • Relational Equity. 

I struggle with these topics because I have plenty to say and realize there is no room for dissent or chance to question where is this all going.  I cringe to think “White Fragility” could be making its way in our district or “How To Be An Anti-Racist.”  

IRONY ALERT – When I see other activities (athletic) are approved and yet, choir and band are not?  Not even a discussion on how to make them work during THE VID ERA, where is the “equity” in that?  What “equity” are we discussing?  Must be race and gender with a hint of financial.  Certainly is not access to the subject being taught.  

I heard someone say to me, “Let’s look at the positive of Distance “Learning.”  Considering how sensitive folks are / the high school students about Social Justice issues, it may be best for the teachers … well teachers “like you” (Paul) … not be in the classroom.”  That person has a point.  

The students are now being taught how to be Social Justice Warriors!  I get it.  Yet, these are teenagers.  Yes.  I do think teenagers need to be listened to … in the context as teenagers.  Teachers’ voices are “quieter.”  Such an unusual feeling.  Feels backwards 

The Social Justice topics are sensitive – for sure, especially if you want to speak-up. “When are we going to teach people they shouldn’t blame their circumstances for their choices?”  We don’t teach that.  

Going back to the “back to school” schedule, I look at the rest of the days… Thursday / Friday / Monday 8:45am – 12:00pm on Zoom meetings –

  • Engaging Students Online;
  • Online Presentation tools;
  • Online Learning Platforms;
  • Online Meeting Facilitation.

12:30pm – 2:00pm more zoom meetings.

2:00pm – 3:00pm Teacher time

There is little time for me (a music teacher) to spend time on technology tools for music programs.  Irony – equity?  To me, equity would be allowing – in my case – music teachers to work with music technology.  Again, interested in what is the context / use of the word “equity?”  

Tuesday – day before first day with students – we have some time to get to prepare.  

My heart is heavy.  

After being with students on campus, we will not be with the students again until a miracle or unless we turn band / choir into athletic activities (sarcasm).  However, there is some accuracy.  

As I have written in previous articles, attitude is a choice.  My attitude is my responsibility.  I will find a way to see the positive in the direction our leaders have chosen.  

If we were to return to campus August 10th with the high school students, this has happened prior to that date :

  • 155,000+  people have died from reasons related to THE VID
  • 2,000,000+  people have recovered from THE VID
  • George Floyd had a police officer’s knee to his neck and died
  • Hundreds-of-thousands of people have protested and also … please be real … rioted and destroyed hundreds of businesses 
  • MILLIONS of people have lost jobs
    Thousands of businesses have been destroyed and probably will not return 
  • Statues desecrated or destroyed.  Churches burned / vandalized. 
  • White Fragility 
  • Black Lives Matter
  • black lives matter 
  • Anti-Racism 
  • The 1619 Project 
  • Many leaders from hundreds of years ago are racist and therefore, need to be banned / cancelled
  • Suicide attempts increase. 
  • Suicides increase. 
  • Drug use UP. 
  • Alcohol purchases up.
  • Churches closed. 
  • Casinos opened. 
  • Groups larger than 10 – no good.   

Wow!!  Just that list makes me just want to sit in my empty classroom.  What would the students be like, especially when the Presidential election approaches?!  

So, yeah… my heart is heavy.  

I will write it again.  Our children need adults.  Our student needs adults.  However, the “adults” need to be not the show “This is Us.”  (Uh-oh … ).  Cool show.. I know.  However, lots of emotions in that show!  Lots.  

No.  Our children / our students need more stoic adults.  The emotions are definitely leading the behavior which is supposed to be the child’s response / behavior.  We (the adults) are the ones to remind the children, the action leads to the attitude … not the attitude leads to the action.  

My hope is when school starts / routine kicks in / we get through the presidential election, we will be together again on campus.  We will realize that it is okay to disagree.  It is okay to have dissension.  It is okay to see things differently.  Being human is okay.  Being a human in front of a computer screen for more than an hour a day is not okay.  I need to buy those cool blue-light glasses.  I wonder if I can have the district reimburse me?  

God bless all of us.