Deciding on a topic for my quarantine art series, I tend to take a minute to listen to what the universe is showing me. I felt drawn to the garden this day…and the beautiful leaves of the mullein plant.
Courage, health, love and protection.
These are things we are all hoping, praying and wishing for during this quarantine time.
Mullein represents all of these things. The leaves of this plant used to be placed into little satchels under one’s pillow to keep away nightmares, and to attract love, health and protection. In fact, it was believed that wearing mullein would ensure fertility, and also keep potentially dangerous animals at bay while in the wilderness. Mullein was also used to help treat respiratory problems, and can be used as toilet paper!
The universe speaks through all things… mullein being synchronistic to COVID-19 in so many ways! Reminding us that nature provides all of our needs, if we are open and willing to listen and receive.
We are in week 4 of online e-learning through Schoology, using Google Meets for virtual meetings.
First I have to say how grateful I am to work for Baltimore County, and to work with such amazing educators. The BCPS visual arts office enlisted the help of my department chair and other art educators to create amazing lessons for our students. We are so fortunate.
The past 4 weeks have been a roller coaster.
As a teacher I have to keep up with my 300 students, who post 3 times a week, grading and giving feedback. It is a lot of desk work, a lot of time spent at the computer.
I miss being in my classroom. I miss interacting with my students face to face. I miss the conversations we have, and seeing them light up when they come up with an idea for their project, or when they figure out something and are proud of themselves!
Art is such a hands on interactive activity! I am learning to navigate the balance between the digital and the material experiences. But let me just say again, I really miss my students.
I get to do virtual meetings with them once a week, every other week for 30 mins. It is challenging to build relationships with 20+ students via a Google Meet in a half an hour. So far I have met with my A day kids twice, and my B day kids once. During our meetings, we have shared something interesting about what we’ve done since we’ve been quarantined, which took all 30 mins!
When my students tell me what they’ve been doing with their time, the majority of them say they are spending A LOT of time doing homework. They have expressed a huge amount of stress from the amount of focus it takes for them to get all of their school work done. Aside from the workload, students have also mentioned they are doing a lot more physical activity then before the quarantine! So that’s a positive!!
Teachers are not to use the meeting time to do new learning or direct instruction. We are to be building relationships and allowing time for students to check in. Part of me wishes I had more time with them so we could do a fun art project! There are a lot of layers to this though…not all kids are in the meetings, not all kids have materials to create an art project with and we have a limited about of time.
Also most of my students do not want to turn their cameras on!! I love seeing my students, so I ask them to please turn their cameras on so I can see them! It’s not the same teaching to a bunch of uppercase letters in colored circles!
I have also been leading google meets for my green club kids!! We have been learning about different edible plants and watching the fruit trees grow!
Aside from teaching my students, I am also assisting my own children in their school work. Doing both is challenging, but we are making it work!
Luckily my kids school has streamlined things on google classroom and my children are starting to really get the hang of everything! We have meltdowns every now and then… but it’s a lot more manageable then the first week!
Overall… we are doing it. We are handling it, we are learning and growing.
Just a reminder that is not simply electronic learning, this is emergency learning.
Be kind, be compassionate, be easy on one another…
There is much to be excited about Burns Valley Herbals and Retreat this coming year. Even in the midst of this COVID crisis, we are planning and preparing for a beautiful summer filled with amazing opportunities to gather, learn and create!
Brenda is a lover of the earth, and grows medicinal herbs which she blends into teas, steams, soaks and more. Brenda loves to share her knowledge and passion for plants! She is also a huge believer in the power of the earth to heal.
There are so many amazing things to do at Burns Valley! Check out a few things we’ve been up to! Taking hikes, making art, setting up gnome and fairy gardens, playing disc golf, saving a woodpecker that flew into the window, collecting cattails, doing a puzzle, playing board games, hanging out by the fire and cooking! This is the perfect space for my mind, body and soul.
The first 3 days off of work because of the coronavirus came and went.
On Sunday I thought about how I would handle the next day. Was I going to get up, business as usual… or was I going to take the well needed rest.
I decided to take it one day at a time. So on Monday, I woke up without my alarm, around 6:30 am. I decided that it was the perfect day for me to start with yoga. I love being awake before everyone else, and watching my Sara Beth yoga on youtube! I really enjoy her flow.
After yoga, I had some coffee and read a book. It was nice to be able to sit still and quiet for a little while. However there has been this underlying unease… a type of energy that is constantly on… buzzing underneath it all.
When my kids woke up we did school work, and made art!
Two weeks off of work, for social distancing purposes. So I stayed in the house, finished reading the Alchemist, and am working on finishing Mitakuya Oyasin. I am also working on Braiding Sweetgrass.
I worked on a few paintings, did printmaking with my daughter, and cleaned and organized the house.
We also went for a run on the trail, and a hike in the woods.
The grocery stores have been hit or miss. In Pennsylvania the Giant wasn’t too bad… but when I went down to Maryland and their Giant was empty! It’s very interesting to hear how different areas have different reactions to the quarantine.
I have been taking it one moment at a time, trying not to over schedule anything, but also not just sitting around doing nothing. Though sometimes I catch myself sitting and staring. Thinking about what’s going on with the world!
What if we don’t go back to school in 2 weeks? There are rumors of more quarantine, of longer time off of school, if not the rest of the school year… there is so much to process.
Today I emailed all of my students… letting them know they can message me any time. I miss them. I can’t imagine not going back to school for the rest of the year!
I could tell students were really in shock and didn’t know what to do. They were quieter.
Today I spoke to them about what was happening, and shared where the online art resources were located for them to do over the next two weeks. These digital resource folders were uploaded to each class, and they are for practice only. If students want to use them over the 2 weeks they can, but they are not mandatory.
We discussed how things might be longer than 2 weeks, and we might have to go to online learning if that happens. They’re responses were, “That would not be good. I can’t focus at home. I won’t ever do any work! I need accountability. I’ll get distracted by Minecraft!” Its funny to me because when everything is normal they don’t want to be in school… but when presented with the opportunity to not being school, they realize they might not have the self control to keep learning up to their potential!
Well then shared with them again that the best thing for them to do right now is to take care of themselves mentally and physically. To take time to rest and breath, not allowing themselves to be overwhelmed with stress or fear. Using art to help you express how you’re feeling and how your processing this new experience. I encouraged them to keep a journal about it all, and to spend some time creating art that represents this experience for them.
Also I mentioned they should eat less processed sugar if they can help it, since it does not help their immune system. You should’ve heard how almost every class responded to my sugar comment! It was amazing how defensive they became. So many students said, “What?! Oh No! I dont think I could do that. I love sugar.” If they only knew how much better they would feel if they had less sugar in their diet!
After school was over I realized I needed to take my plants home with me, because there would be no one there to water them for 2 weeks. So many things I had to consider and contemplate today. Even before going to the grocery store at 4pm.
When I parked at Shoprite, I knew what I was getting myself into. There wasn’t too much missing when I arrived. The bananas were gone, and so was all the rubbing alcohol, peroxide, toilet paper, and bread. The rest of the store was pretty much stocked. It was so weird.
And then I went to stand in line… and I had to go pretty much halfway down the aisle to get to the end of the line. I waited in line for about 40 mins at least. Everyone was very friendly and polite. Helping each other find what they needed and waiting line while having small talk. It was nice to see people being kind.
Today went well, but was also very overwhelming.
The amount of information, what ifs and questions I had to process today put my mind on overload, and being around all of those people in the grocery store added a level of emotions that were tough to balance.
When I got home from the store all I wanted to do was sit by myself alone, and cry. Releasing all of that tension and energy back into a neutral space of love and balance.
Being alone to process what we experience and feel is a very important part of learning and growing… of knowing thy self.
The energy of this experience is quite new… so slow and steady is the only way to navigate.
The fog was really heavy as I drove in to work today.
With the message from the governor last night, everything seems a little more surreal.
While driving into work, my mind bounced around between many different thoughts: what was today going to be like? Will there be a lot of students out? Can we even get anything done? Should we even worry about school work? How can I make today a less stressful day for myself and my students.
Coming into work, the halls are less crowded… the teachers are all in shock… so surreal.
What do we even do? Just keep moving forward… steady.
I found out this morning that I will have to upload and share teaching resources with my students while we are on this 2 week break. I am not sure what the looks like exactly… will I have to teach all day? Will I just have to grade work? Will I have to be available if they need me for something? Are students simply going to complete the work at their own pace?
So many questions, not much answers at the moment. It seems that things are slowly dripping down to us.
The students cleaned their lockers out this morning. Our morning art meeting was canceled due to an emergency leadership team meeting. The visual arts office of BCPS uploaded files to our resource page labeled COVID 19 remote learning, at home resources. I am not sure yet what I am supposed to do with them.
With class about to start… I am sitting here deciding… do I have the student continue to work on their projects as normal? Or do I do something “special” for these special times?
I think we will explore our emotions through a group project I did once, where students received cards with emotions on them and they had to work in groups to create a piece of art that represented that emotion. Groups would guess one another’s emotions based off the artwork!
All Maryland public schools will be closed from Monday March 16th until March 27th because of the coronavirus.
As of this moment, we will not have to teach for those two weeks. However they mentioned that we will have to use our spring break time to make it up.
This is the first time something like this has happened to me, as I am sure its a first for many. We are history in the making.
So to keep track of my experience with this virus, I thought I would write about it.
Students are aware of a lot of information about the virus. They have researched, watched and listened to information about it. A lot of students mention to me that they didn’t understand the hysteria around it. While there were a few who voiced their anxiety about it. Most students were excited by the idea of getting out of school, and being apart of something so… historical. They even shared information that in every decade in the 20th year, there was some type of pandemic! The black plague, spanish flu, and now the coronavirus.
Most of my friends online have expressed concern for the elderly and the sick, however they also do not understand the hype. Why are people purchasing all of the toilet paper? We went to the grocery store and the toilet paper was all gone, as were all of the cleaning supplies! Those were the only two things missing on the shelves.
I also want to mention that the stock market is crashing, and people are promoting using digital platforms to help eliminate spread of the virus. There could be a correlation between the idea of money spreading the virus and the use of digital platforms as a financial solution. Though cryptocurrency is also tanking… at this moment, it is down to $5k.
So as I prepare for my last day of school tomorrow before our 2 week closure, I want to remind you, change is inevitable… so just breathe.
My trip to Minneapolis for the NAEA conference has been halted. BCPS has restricted all out of state school field trips and work related PD for teachers due to the coronavirus. This means I can not attend the conference. I am beyond bummed.
I look forward to this conference every year; Seeing old friends and making new friends… learning new things to bring back to my classroom and feeling invigorated with a new spark to share my passion of art… and traveling to new cities, spending time there learning about their history and visiting their museums.
My heart is a little broken today, I’m not gonna lie. When I got the message last night from our Superintendent I wasn’t surprised, but it didn’t really hit me until this morning. Things have reached my reality… and are shifting around me.
I have so many thoughts on these shifts. I could go on and on about what I think and how weird this all is… and part of me wants to, but also I do not want to debate or discuss what it could be or what should be. Neither of those things is proactive from the perspective that most of the time we allow ourselves to get carried away in those thoughts and lose sight of our own power.
So the most important thought I want to share is…
Keep your vibration up, and your self centered.
Use this time and energy to focus in on what you truly want in your life, and what you hold on to that no longer serves you. Use this time to detox and break free from the attachments you’ve made that are only holding you back. Spend your alone time, breathing deeply in and out. Teach your children the importance of sacred time, and self care. We are well when we are balanced in our ways. Spend time with mother earth, letting nature heal you and bring you back to center.
Keep moving forward… Steady now… there is something great coming. This is the calm before the storm, which will eventually produce the largest rainbow you’ve ever seen. <3