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White people, we promised we’d do better.

At the end of May of 2020, George Floyd was murdered. Bystanders watched Floyd slowly murdered because it was illegal for them to stop it; would be punishable to try. Many of us watched the footage, were outraged at the footage, decided that this was the moment after which it would be different.

White people, we promised it was time.

But watch our Whiteness work.

Watch how quickly we go from posting black squares on our profiles to saying “I believe that black lives matter, but not in Black Lives Matter,” how quickly we run away from uprisings when they’ve risen too far up. …

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Most of this year never happened. A whole year of whispers slipping between our fingers, nearly a whole year missed.

I missed coffee shops. I missed taking a book to a bar on a Friday afternoon, sitting alone through two beers and four chapters. I missed friends coming over, their weird kids running around outside or downstairs with my weird kid while we talk like adults less and less ironically, standing, always, in the kitchen and leaving all the soft furniture empty. …

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about that idiom about rearranging deck chairs on the titanic.

There is no shortage of ways that this is hard. There’s no shortage of work to do. What’s missing, so often missing, is work that could make any of the big problems any better.

Our classes aren’t going great, aren’t engaging in meaningful ways.

I just did our first night of parent teacher conferences, and I’ve never known less about the students I’m talking about.

Our teachers are falling apart. We try to do better in fits and starts between periods of being too busy, too sad, too sick, too hopeless. …

I Did Less Things, and it was Everything I Thought it Could Be. (A reflection on the 11th week of Distance Teaching)

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I did a lot less this week.

I did less because before that, I was doing way too much.

Too many google docs full of too many steps, move from section A to B and don’t forget to also do your reading (with a writing component) and your writing (with a reading component). When we meet twice a week online, be ready for video, activities, and discussions that had devolved to me playing out both sides of an argument, trying to get students to fill in a work or two. It was too much, and more than that, it wasn’t doing enough. …

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The view from inside.

I sent an apology email this week to my coworkers. I haven’t been pleasant to work with.

“I have this thing wrong with me,” the email read, “I mean, I have lots of things wrong with me, but I have this particular one… when things are going bad, I need to get my head all the way up my butt, like really fully in there, before I recognize it’s a problem.”

The email said other stuff, but that was the main idea. I’d been reading too many of the reasons this is hard as somehow directed at me. …

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My alarm hasn’t gone off for weeks. I’m up early, having slept in fits.

Try to find a tie that matches my mask, or a mask that matches my shirt

It’s still dark as I drive across town, listening to the news until I can’t, and then to music until I want more news.

I answer emails that were sent since I left home, send emails that get no answer.

I take my daily anxiety pill with the first of four cups of coffee.

I try to give myself ten minutes away from my screen before my first online class. …

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Dear Aspiring Writer,

I’ve been writing since my mom gave me my first journal when I was six. I’ve called myself a writer since 1996, and have made a pretty serious study of it since going to college in 1999. I know a good amount, I suppose, but also I recently read On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong and have no idea how he made words do the things they did. So, I only know so much.

As far as writing, there’s this great poem by Mary Oliver that kinda says everything you need to know:

Instructions for Living a…

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I swear, I started this week feeling good.

My school’s equity team meets on Monday afternoons. It’s the time of the week I feel most connected with staff, that I feel like I do the most good for my building, that we work on some of our biggest problems.

This week, we talked mostly about those kids we are missing, the kids absent from our online meetings or whose gradebook is a growing collection of red-typed “missing”s, stacked one on top of the next.

We talked about what we can do for those students, where we may be facing a lack of encouragement or effort, but how much more often it’s a matter of access, a matter of Google Classroom falling far down the list of importance and immediacy in the face of all the things filling and disrupting lives right now. …

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(this is not my book)

Fifteen years ago, I was just wrapping up my second month of teaching ever. I had somehow managed to only feel like I was going to get fired twice and like I should quit ten or eleven times. Those numbers would increase as my ego outstripped my ability.

I would talk often to friends I had made while in my teacher licensure program. They always seemed sympathetic, but not overly surprised. I was never supposed to be one of the ones who was good at this. In our group of slightly over twenty, there were three or four people that everyone knew would be great teachers. They were organized and talented; they did and understood all the readings for class, they didn’t have three beers during lunch breaks between classes (look, my dad died that year. I wasn’t at my best). …


Thomas Rademacher

Author of ‘It Won’t Be Easy.’ 2014 Minnesota Teacher of the Year. @mrtomrad on everything.

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