Saturday, November 28, 2020

Go Find Some Place New

Last weekend, my son had an outdoor adventure with a buddy that took me to a regional area I don’t frequently go. It got me off my regular path, and given it was possibly one of the last nice days of before the weather shifts, I decided to find my way to a nearby nature park. 

My sights & senses included a multitude of scampering squirrels, crunchy leaves beneath my feet, the earth smell of wetlands, the color contrast of red berries on green vines against the mostly-barren trees at this point in the season. My trail led me beside a tidal marsh, a view of Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and barefoot in the sandy beach shore (where a few youngsters were building a sandcastle). Toe dipping in, the water of the Chesapeake Bay was certainly chilly!

While walking, I was also reflecting, ruminating, and pondering the last several months and the bulk of this past year. It reminded me how much I get from this nature connection, and how surprisingly infrequently I make time for these novel experiences... even in a year of novel coronavirus when calendars have opened to time I could spend this way, if I so choose. The hunkering down of quarantine doesn’t actually have to mean "hunker down." I think sometimes we forget that. We don’t just need to stay safe indoors. And this is coming from someone who has said it before: nature is the foil to all our technology. It’s our mental, spiritual, and emotional chiropractor. We just need to remember to go.

One observation from this year is that it’s the novelty of things is what seems to be missing thanks to Covid, where every day is Groundhog’s Day. There’s nothing new and different outside of possibly carryout and the different pair of sweatpants. But that’s what my meandering about showed me: that it's wrong. There is different everywhere. We just need to make the time to find it. Sometimes that seems to take energy and creativity, and when stretched to our bandwidth, those are hard to access. But what trekking the trail showed me, it was really just a matter of turning the car down a different road. Maybe surprise adventures like a day in a different park are the exact thing necessary for opening our creative and expanding our bandwidth.

Don’t be your own worst indoor enemy. Go find some new place to go—preferably outdoors. May just be the best thing to do this Thanksgiving weekend!

Photos from my camera at Terrapin Beach Park.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving 2020

With another holiday here in a pandemic year, things might be a tad different from your typical Turkey Day Traditions. 

Regardless of how Thanksgiving finds you this year, take time to connect with your loved ones, friends, and family as creatively as you can. Take time to be grateful for all that's in your life, even if it seems hard to find during difficult times. 

Here's some turkey tidbits and Thanksgiving fun facts to enjoy this holiday season. (And, if you need a smile, feel free to flashback to my GTG Thanksgiving tribute & annual tradition that I posted last year.)

Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Videos from and, Image from is an excellent article as well in helping you revisit the importance of perspective!)

Saturday, November 21, 2020

School Decisions in the Time of Covid

This week—midweek—for a multitude of reasons including a few Covid cases, our Head of School & the Board of Trustees decided that yesterday (the Friday before Thanksgiving) we would “put a pause” on our hybrid school schedule. We have been in hybrid since the beginning of the school year, which has looked like this:

- Preschool to Grade 1 have been fully in session with the exception of a handful of families that opted to go remote. 

- Grade 2-5 have been in either as  Monday-Wednesday cohorts or Tuesday-Thursday cohorts, with every-other-Fridays (again, with some opting to go full remote)

- Grade 6-12 have been strict every-other-day cohorts of A & B in addition to the few full-remote-ers.

My colleagues and I (along with much of America) have been watching the Covid curve and the counts. Many of us educators who have been "going in" daily gave a little “hallelujah” when the decision was made--mainly because we are slightly "Covid-creeped out." Additionally, our few positive Covid cases combined with the contract tracing has really hit our teacher coverage hard, as some teachers were forced into quarantine along with students. Looking at the curve/case count now versus where we were in March  when everything shut down, our country has frighteningly surpassed where we were in lockdown by at least three-fold!

I will admit in my house, we are a science-following family & we “trend cautious” when it comes to Covid, mask wearing, distancing, & the like. Thanksgiving is less than a week away. (Mind-boggling!) As a family, we have already canceled our traditional, larger FamFest gathering due to the numbers & the late-breaking regional restrictions which are calling for indoor gatherings of less than 10. 

As I was leaving school both Thursday (with one of our Lower School hybrid cohorts) and Friday (with the other), knowing that Friday would be our last in-house day for awhile, I was struck in many ways. I glanced at my wall calendar, reminded of how it felt to walk in this August and see my wall calendar still welcoming March. As students were leaving both days this week, I wondered when they truly would be returning. As faculty and staff, we have been scurrying the last two days to prep the kids with all of those last minute tech skills and send the kids home with copious learning packets, ready for the unknown.

As teachers, we will be using our two pre-Thanksgiving days as planning for full-time remote, and (as of now) we are planning to be remote for the week following Turkey Day. Sadly, with Covid and the jadedness that comes with age, I have become a cynic. I do not trust people to do the right thing at Thanksgiving.... just as my social media thread has shown me “they” didn’t do the right thing at Halloween. I predict we will be in remote learning longer than just that week. I feel the Covid numbers in general will grow--in the same way we saw our local cases crop up following Halloween, largely due to rumored out-of-school events, often unmasked. Luckily, I have remained “quarantine-free”—though some of my colleagues who had to enter their second bout of quarantine based solely on the behavior of others to whom they were exposed. For some, the late timing of their "quarantine sentence" has now affected their own personal, family Thanksgiving.

This fall has already been so hard, exhausting, and often very much up in the air for teachers. For those of us physically in school, we were juggling our students zooming in from home with those masked in class around us--all while feeling like we were in the middle of a hot zone. My heart goes out to our health care professionals who are facing a similar situation as essential workers, though made more difficult to matters being ones of  life and death. As a very divided country where mask wearing has become political, it’s frustrating to those of us who are following every rule carefully to flatten the curve. But not everyone is. I found it is especially striking recently while discussing the Bill of Rights with our fourth graders. We looked at those first 10 Amendments through the relevant lens of recent news... including mask wearing in the time of Covid. 

I'm reminded of our transition to the remote learning of the spring, when it was so hard then. And yet, now we see, hybrid teaching is even harder, and we have chuckled upon that realization--who would have  thought in March we would ever have said anything could be harder! Now, 8 months later, at the end of our Fall trimester, we realize how lucky (and surprised) we have been to have made it to this point of the school year--making it all the way to Thanksgiving! We managed to stay in session with our hybrid format and our protocols far longer than many of us ever thought we could. Many schools were not able to open in person to any degree this fall. THAT certainly garners some gratitude. 

I pray for grace for us all for the winter ahead with Covid and its germs looming here in the middle of cold and flu season. May the verminous germs stay at bay. And, may we collectively make decisions that take us all into account, helping us all take care of each other until the vaccine goes into effect!

Stay safe out there!

Crossroads meme created at, mask cartoon, Covid curve, mask from

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Planning For a Zero Waste Thanksgiving

Food waste in America accounts for approximately 30-40% of our food supply. With Thanksgiving ahead and while you are planning your feast for 1 to 21, here are some great thoughts for shooting for a zero waste Thanksgiving this year.

For more ideas on this, check out my GTG post from 2 years ago.

An additional note on Thanksgiving:
In many communities, Covid cases are at record levels (as they are for us in America as a nation). In my local area, our county council has limited indoor events to 10 or under (outdoor events to 25) due to Covid counts. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, please go forward as safe as possible. Masks, distancing, and maybe even rethinking your typical traditions to follow suit to your own local restrictions. Let's go forward thinking about our over-saturated hospitals overloaded with too many Covid cases and weighing down our health care workers. Let's do it thinking about our loved ones, who hopefully we can see at Christmas rather than risking them. Part of Thanksgiving is being grateful for all we have--let's be thankful for our freedoms while also taking caring of each other. That's what our Veterans, who we just celebrated last week, would do.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Pixton EDU

Bitmoji classrooms have been all the rage since the start of remote learning this spring. 

From there, teachers started looking into avatar-izing their students to create more digital fun for everyone. But, Bitmoji, with it's tie in to SnapChat, creates some issues with teachers of the under-13-year-old set. That's where Pixton comes in for the rescue. Not only is it a great way to have students build their own avatars, but it also opens up the creation of a comic classroom or digital storytelling. 

Might be a fun way to have students create a digital citizenship comics, illustrate their writing, make visual signs of your classroom, or more.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Veterans Day 2020

Veterans Day is always a big deal at our school. My previous one as well.

This year with the Covid, we are in hybrid mode at my school, and numbers are restricted to have the typical Veterans Day Assembly. Therefore, our fifth graders who typically run that assembly, moved to creating a green screen video. All 36 of our students individually spoke their lines in our Maker Lab (with the exception of students who opted at the beginning of the year to be our full time remote learners). 

Included in our script: background about the history of the day, the military branches, how our school has ties to the military, and the Cheryl Dyson poem "Veterans Day," which I have included below. We placed historic headlines, Armistice Day &Veterans Day photos, and flags as the backdrops behind the students to fill the green of the green screen. The compiled film will be shared with our school community on Veteran's Day to honor and pay tribute to all veterans. Additionally, our 5th graders wrote letters to veterans who have touched or been connected to our community. 

As this year's Veterans Day passes and we can see our own personal sacrifices that we have paid this year of quarantine and pandemic, may it mean even more to us as we realize and remember the supreme sacrifices our military has endured as a way to honor and protect our country throughout time.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

David Attenborough: A Life on our Planet

Sir David Attenborough has a voice like no other. It's richness and distinction have become the voice of animal activism and environmentalism. 

At 94 years old, he has dedicated the majority of his life as the voice of environmentalism. He's at it again with both a new documentary on Netflix: "A Life On Our Planet." Likewise, he has a new book out earlier this month by the same name with the subtitle: "My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future."

Here is the trailer for his Netflix documentary, where he shows the depth of importance humans need to put on our planet--now: 

I haven't watched it yet, but after watching the trailer and his September 28th, 2020 sixteen minute interview with Anderson Cooper on "60 Minutes," it's definitely on my list. 
“We can once again become a species in balance with nature and restore the rich, healthy and wonderful world that we inherited... We’ve come this far because we are the smartest creatures that ever lived. But to continue, we require more than intelligence. We require wisdom.” ~ Sir David Attenborough

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Snarky Tea For Me

About 3 weeks into the new school year, when pandemic-style hybrid back-to-school teaching this fall felt like running triage, a girlfriend of mine sent over the exact perfect gift for both my mood and that moment. 

It was the Sassy Sampler from Snarky Tea. (Language warning ahead!)

I'd recently run across their Facebook advertisement prior to this...perhaps the algorithm had discovered that "snarky" is indeed one of my favorite words. 

Aside from the well-timed and much-needed comic relief, it also spoke to my 3+ years of caffeine-infused tea-addiction as I had moved on from a lifetime of Diet Coke drinking. It was indeed a perfect back-to-school teacher gift, and precisely suited for 2020!

As I made my way through the sampler, putting an extra smirk behind my daily-masked-self, my day had a little extra "oomph" to it during tough times. Amazing how far a smirk and a smile can take you, especially with each sip of tea from my stainless steel straw.

The sad part of a sampler pack is that eventually you land on that last one, a dozen days later. So of course, it led me to their website with the desire to order more. Who knows, it might also make it to my Christmas gift-giving list down the line. 

As I was perusing their site, I came on some extra love when I learned that their lovely little tea sachets are also environmentally friendly. They are 100% biodegradable, made from SOILON, a corn starch and plastic free material that actually allows for excellent water flow through the tea leaves, which totally benefits your tastebuds. It has been startling to learn along my tea journey that this is not the case for many teabags (including high end brands) because a majority of tea companies "use polypropylene, a sealing plastic, to keep their tea bags from falling apart. This plastic is not recyclable or biodegradable."

Snark AND great taste AND comic relief AND environmentally friendly tea?!? Yes, this is nirvana! Not to mention, the company has a great "girl power" vibe behind the entire company. Can't argue with female empowerment! 

I happen to like their "Profani-tea" series shown above in their Sassy Sampler, but they also have wellness and cold brew teas, as well as a pumpkin spice tea just in time for fall and a pepperminty one for the December holidays ahead, all available at their shop. 

As their tagline succinctly puts it: "Health. Humor. Happiness." That's all you need! That and maybe a cup of tea!

Photo from my camera of my very own Sassy Sampler from Snarky Tea: