Virtual Learning: Week 2 of ?

For many teachers and students, last week served as the most unusual and uncertain spring break in history.

As a teacher and communications director for our school, I teach five classes and handle the school’s publications and social media. I spent my spring break walking my dog, doing spring cleaning, spending quality time with family (in person and via facetime), revamping lesson plans for potentially the rest of the school year, intermittently watching COVID 19 updates, and creating fun videos and informative social media posts for our school community.

As I prepared myself for teaching virtually through April 30 (and possibly beyond), I rose at 6:30 am, walked the dog, read my Bible, and drank my coffee.

Now, as I sit here this evening and reflect over the five classes of Zoom meetings, with postings and emails in between, along with one bathroom break and a quick bite to eat between zoom 3 and 4, my heart is full, and I am exhausted.

It’s interesting, though, how the fatigue of cyberspace differs from that of physical classroom teaching. The exhaustion, from my perspective, stems from revamping an entire quarter of work and deadlines, brainstorming out of the box approaches to filling yearbook pages for spring sports and activities that have been postponed, and feeling, through the screen, the weight of emotion these students carry as they long to be back together in their school or on the field or just hanging out in the parking lot.

IMG-5326Today, my first Zoom class began at 8 am. I showed up in a sweatshirt and jeans (a nice perk of teaching from home) with some of my students still in their beds with only their audio turned on.

“Next time,” I told those students who didn’t want to be seen, “I need to see your faces! I miss you!”

As we did each day in our real classroom, I began with the sharing of gratitude, and many of us were especially grateful for the sunshine we’ve experienced lately, and others took turns sharing a plethora of thankful statements:

“I’m thankful for my mom because she’s been cooking every night!”

“I’m thankful for friends.”

“I’m thankful for extra sleep.”

After gratitude, from one class to the next, we discussed revised plans and how I will take attendance each week and how communication during this virtual time is crucial.

“We must stay connected even though we aren’t seeing each other every day.”

No one had an attitude, and everyone participated.

My journalism students shared plans for their 2-minute videos, and in my yearbook zoom, we went page by page and created to-do lists and need lists so that we could help each other finish telling the story of our year.IMG-9171

We even sang Happy belated Birthday to Sam!

In my senior Advanced Comp/101 zoom classes, each student shared wisdom from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince–which we finished right before school closed.

Every time I read this treasure, I have a new aha moment, and today, hearing my students share what they had learned–without us even discussing it– made my heart beam! And oh how we as a society need this wisdom right now:

IMG-5331“I learned to see with your heart and not your eyes.”

“I learned how important it is not to judge people.”

“We must not forget what’s it’s like to be a child.”

 

“Relationships are essential.”

“Kindness matters.”

“Being tamed teaches discipline.”

“I think The Little Prince symbolizes Jesus and how he sacrificed everything, and the rose represents us.”

Okay, well, maybe I should not have put these nuggets of wisdom in direct quotation marks because I was actually paraphrasing, but you get the point. Hopefully.

As I closed each class today, I made a heart with my hands, held it over my face, and told my students I missed them and I loved them. I reminded them to put on love each day and to stay focused.

Then, I closed each class with the prayer our campus minister shared via email.

daily prayer

Since I teach at a Catholic high school, praying in class is a normal activity, and these kids need more normal today than uncertainty.

However, for all those public school teachers who would normally be afraid to say a prayer with their students, I understand. I used to be one.

Yet, still, I say, don’t be afraid. No one is going to fire you.

It seems society has a newfound respect for teachers right now, so if you feel like, go for it!

Offer a prayer opportunity after you end your virtual class and see how many kids stay connected to experience the peace of a prayer.

Now, besides zooms and postings and screens filled with sleepy, smiling teenagers, I send a shout out to all health care workers, and I encourage you, as I asked my NHS members to do, to take a break from the virtual world and create a small piece of art with heart. Once finished, write your name, city, and state on the back and send it to

Art with HeartIMG-5338

1315 Skipping Stone Dr

Evansville, IN 47725

If you’re still reading this, I thank you, and I offer up prayers for peace and wellness for you and our world.

 

My Journey Through a Toxic World: Styrofoam

I was sitting at my desk at the start of the day with my coffee that I had brought from home, my coffee that was resting nicely in my convenient, styrofoam cup, and Dr. Bonnie said, “Please stop using styrofoam cups.”

What?!

Well, I decided to do some research. I’ve now researched styrofoam, and OH MY GOSH! The harmful effects of styrofoam have been known since 1973, and the EPA found residues of the product in human fat cells back in 1986. healthbeckon.com

According to healthbeckon.com , “The ‘styrene’ present in Styrofoam cups and other such containers has the ability to percolate the food or beverages carried in them. The foods can be anything, ranging from hot or cold drinks, snacks, alcohols to acidic eatables. Styrene is a suspected carcinogen (capable of causing cancer) and neurotoxin (poisonous or destructive to nerve tissue).

Styrofoam carries a host of other adverse health effects:

  • Irritation and mucous secretion from eyes and nose.
  • Increased levels of fatigue and decreased concentration ability.
  • Increased levels of abnormal pulmonary function and cancer.
  • Disrupts normal hormone functions resulting in thyroid problems and other hormone related problems.”

7266564_origAdditionally, Styrofoam is very harmful to the environment, and although it can be recycled, most companies will not do so because it is such an expensive process. Oh, and by the way, if he mayor of New York  thinks it is crucial to ban single-use styrofoam products which in turn prompted Dunkin Donuts to begin phasing out styrofoam cups, then I think it is important enough for us to stop and take notice and rid our our lives of styrofoam. 

That’s it! No more styrofoam for me! This is also means requesting a different container for my “to-go” box at restaurants. How about you?

Please know that I am not trying to cause paranoia but rather awareness, an awareness that could ultimately improve your health! The truth is that we have become a society of individuals spoiled by convenience.

Consequently, these daily conveniences often times are hurting our health and causing illnesses that we never knew to associate with the products we buy. Personally, I am learning more everyday, and it is enough to convict me to do better and make different choices, even if that means I might be inconvenienced by putting my to-go coffee in a stainless steel mug instead of a styrofoam cup.

My Journey Through a Toxic World: Cookware

After Dr. Bonnie Schnautz ND suggested I read the New York Times article “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,” I was appalled, saddened, and ready to spark an awareness that impacts positive change to our environment and our bodies!

This lawyer committed 16 years of his life to expose a company’s deception and use of the harmful chemical PFOA. The company, Dupont, knowingly used PFOA for over 5 decades, despite it making employees and community members sick.

“Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as C8, is another man-made chemical. PFOA has the potential to be more of a health concern because it can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time. Studies have found that it is present at very low levels in just about everyone’s blood in the United States.” American Cancer Society

Additionally, PFOA made CNN’s top five list of toxins that are everywhere.

  1. BPA: found in water bottles, baby bottles, reusable food containers, etc
  2. Phthalates: found in shampoos, body sprays, colognes, etc
  3. PFOA (C8): found in teflon cookware, waterproof breathable clothing, etc
  4. Formaldehyde: found in particle board, paneling, plywood, etc
  5. PBDEs: found in televisions, computers, furniture foams, etc

Through my research of PFOA, I learned of the EPA’s reporting that PTFE, the chemical in Teflon, is closely related to the harmful PFOA chemical. Teflon (PTFE), a DuPont brand trademark, is still in many people’s kitchens in the form of a skillet. Most people have been warned about the harmful effects of Teflon skillets, but many of us still use these skillets for convenience, including myself.

Did you know, though, that convenience may be making you sick and harming your pets? According to EWG, “Toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms (called ‘Teflon Flu’ or, as scientists describe it, ‘Polymer fume fever’).”

For our health and wellness, it is imperative that all of us rid our kitchens of teflon and introduce one of the following healthy cookware options:

  • Ceramic
  • Cast Iron
  • Glass/Corning-ware
  • Regular Stoneware
  • Stainless Steel

In conclusion, as I continue on this journey through a toxic world, I hope you will join me and help me create an awareness, an awareness that could ultimately improve our health! We have become a society spoiled by convenience. Unfortunately, these daily conveniences may be  hurting our health and causing illnesses that we never knew to associate with the products we

First appeared on brenewed.comhttp://brenewed.com/healthy-living/my-journey-through-a-toxic-world-part-1