Friday, April 3, 2020

Small Celebrations

Leia, while I try to do some yoga...
It’s been a week. Today, while on a walk with my dog, I left a Voxer message for my friend Cindy, who lives in Pennsylvania. In it, I said, “I haven’t been with my students for twenty-one days.” At those words, I actually stopped walking. Three weeks. Three weeks since I last taught in my classroom. My gut tells me we won’t be going back to school this year. That thought breaks my heart. I love my students. I miss them so, even though I went through this week’s work from home and grumbled about the amount that isn’t done, I still miss them. I wish I got to have those conversations to their face instead of online. However, I don’t want to dwell in sadness, so here’s what I’m celebrating this week:

My New Website

As I’ve written about here, I’m writing romance books. A short story is coming out in an anthology this summer, I’m revising the two books. As a result, I’ve created a website HERE. If you travel over there, please consider signing up for my newsletter. The first issue will come out next week and it will be a place of happiness and joy in your inbox. Each newsletter will contain:

  • Reading recommendations: what I’m reading for myself (romance!) and/or what I’m reading for my students
  • Writing updates
  • What I’ve been cooking
  • Music I’ve enjoyed lately
  • Products I want to gush about
  • A general life update

Sign up for the newsletter is on the website

Student emails
I woke up on Thursday to an email from a student. I’ve pasted it below because it made me so happy…

Dear Mrs. Soko,

I have just finished the Blood of Olympus and let me say that I cried for about ten minutes because my super sized mcshizzle bad boy supreme died. I wanted to throw the book across the room. I was so sad. The thing is, I was reading at night, so no smashing the book to the ground screaming, "Curse you Rick". I loved Leo so much, he was by far my favorite person out of that story, so when he 'died' we had a river of tears in my bed. Then I finished the book, and even more tears ran down my cheeks because my heart melted in my chest. He survived and went to Calypso!!! That had to be the sweetest thing that happened to me reading this book. Like boys pay attention to what these guys are doing, you might pick up some tips to find love. 
     Just saying I loved that book so so so so so much. For real "Curse you Rick for putting me through a heartache."

With love,

I mean, doesn’t that just make you smile? I cannot even begin to express the happiness that filled me up upon reading that.

Read Aloud
We were reading Jennifer Nielsen’s False Prince when we were back in school. I had a lot of messages over our first week off, which was our spring break. Would I continue the story? Thanks to publishers changing their policies while we are under these new stay at home mandates, I’ve continued our read aloud on a private Flipgrid for my class. 

Last week and this week I’ve put up over three hours of me reading. It’s a bit awkward, but the views for each video told me the kids were watching. On Wednesday I left them at a bit of a cliffhanger. I’d already read the ten chapters for the week, though, so I thought that might be a good spot to stop until next week. Imagine my delight when I got an email from one of my students. She and her grandma had been listening together to my videos each day and they wondered if I’d mind reading a bit more this week. So, of course I did.

Look for the Helpers
As we all are aware, the last few weeks have been a struggle. My anxiety does not do well in times like these and my brain wants to rush ahead to worst case scenarios. However, in the midst of all of the bad, I keep finding pockets of good news. Whether it is the heroes that are saving us right now, the essential workers that are keeping our world running, former students who post pictures of themself in their protective gear heading to work, scientists that are searching for answers, and on, and on. Everyday people are stepping up. We have heroes who walk among us and they move me to tears. I am so grateful.

Finding Bright Spots

This is a picture of me with one of my students, T. She dressed up like me for our middle school talent show which was held on 3/13, our last day of school before spring break. I saw her after dismissal and told her I wanted a photo with her. We took it and then she left for break. A few hours later I’d learn that we were out of school for the next two weeks, which was extended until April 30th, which I fear will be extended for the remainder of the year. I had no idea when I took this with T that it could be my last photo of “school” for this school year. It brings me joy and also makes me grieve what we’ve lost. My boys are missing their track season. My oldest son’s girlfriend is a Senior. My cousins are Seniors in college. There is so much we’ve lost, not even delving into the lives that have been lost. 

Today I read so many students’ writing entries for the week. They’re angry at this virus. They ask me if we are coming back. They tell me how much they miss school. I hear them. But through their writing I also find the thread of gratitude for small moments. The awe when they talk about family members working in the medical field. The time they’ve enjoyed with their love ones. Their newfound appreciation for a normal school day. They are watching, being shaped by this moment in time, as are we all.

Each night I journal, keeping my own record of this time. I end every entry, no matter how scared I am in the majority of it, with a bright spot of my day. They truly are all around us.

Wishing you and your loved ones health and happiness. And please head over HERE and sign up for my newsletter. The first one should be going out sometime next week. Thanks!