my journey to virtual educator

When everything changed for so many in March 2020 I was fortunate enough to be working for a school that shifted everyone, including the preschool staff and students, to distance learning. In early March we were encouraged to “think about” what we would offer, in the “unlikely” event of a school shut down…. On March 13th Governor Edwards made the call to close Louisiana schools and restrict activities across the state in an attempt to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19. Thankfully, my co-teacher and I took the news (and numbers) to heart early on and made plans/preparations for how we’d move our classroom and teaching practices to the virtual realm. Her background as a theater actress, educator and OTA student, combined with mine as a video producer, artist and educator made for a wonderfully harmonious shift to this more “performative” delivery of what we’d been doing with our group of twelve 2 and 3 year-olds. ((Living my Mr. Rogers/ Peewee dreams!)) Our first week of distance learning featured three meetings a day, with supplemental activities for children and families who were also trying to figure out how to make the transition to being work-from-home parents. We spent March through May in a similar routine, save for one “Spring Break”. Although these were days filled with so much uncertainty and fear, they were full of joy and laughter. Our class stayed connected through Google meets (and eventually… after getting over the worry of “Zoom bombs”…Zoom) nature, art and the stories & songs we loved. We showcased shared virtual field trips around the city and with special guests who shared their gardens and plants. So much symbolic and actual growth happened during this Spring and this complete immersion method of moving my teaching online proved to be career (and life) altering.

Throughout the Spring, like so many around the world, I worried. I worried about the health of family & friends. I worried about the health of strangers. I worried about what my job would look like in the Fall. I acknowledge (and in no way mean to discount my privilege here) the fact that I even still had a job and the option to continue that job in the Fall is indicative of my (white) privilege and something that I know separates me from many. Regardless, this is my reality. During this period of March through May I continued to co-facilitate Reggio-inspired virtual meetings for preschoolers, and every day I fell more in love with the possibilities for taking my teaching practice online.

In April I began offering the children’s Yoga classes (that I’d taught in-person since 2015) online, meanwhile I was finishing my 200hr Yoga Teacher Training in the virtual realm. The combination of the incredible wealth of resources in this YTT program and my existing roster of “Yoga families” helped light the way for also becoming an online Yoga teacher.

The possibility of exposing my husband (who is at high risk for developing complications) to COVID-19 because of my work was (and remains) too high a price to pay for some semblance of job security. I love in-person teaching, but cannot rectify the risk with any of the rewards. In May 2020 I asked about options for continuing to teach virtually in the Fall for my school, and since there were none I decided to move on and attempt to make a go of teaching/working completely online on my own. I formed Bluebird LLC in June 2020, with a vision to somehow move all of my teaching / work online, although at that time I wasn’t entirely sure what that would look like. Thanks to the SBA pandemic relief fund I was able to secure a deferred payment low-interest loan that helped recover some of the income I’d lost from the cancellation of my in-person Yoga classes in the Spring (these classes ran through a school, and they were unable to accommodate moving “after school enrichments” online).

Making the shift to independent 100% online teaching over the summer was a logical (albeit tedious, at times) transition. I enjoyed some wonderful private lessons with families from my in-person teaching during this time, but knew I had to do the work to “spread my wings” since most of these children would be returning to in-person instruction in the Fall. After a few months of teaching Yoga online to families of local once in-person students, enrollments dwindled due to families returning to work/ children returning to summer camps. This inspired me to sharpen my focus on casting a wider net….

Enter Outschool, VIPKid and more Zoom classes.

While engrossed in the work of teaching/ applying & getting accepted to teach on Outschool, & VIPkid/ applying & getting accepted to Graduate school (more on this to come) / creating classes & content/ learning VIPKId content (more on this later…yipes)/ connecting with families online/ getting TEFOL certified/creating & sharing PD content for ECEs/ etc. I also applied for an average of three jobs a week at as many online opportunities as I could find (like so many others…)… thankfully, I was eligible for Unemployment assistance due to my husband’s health needs & the pandemic. In the three months that I took UI I was also working to build my business and my online classes (doing all the tasks listed above + sterile/necessary things like accounting); with the help of this much-needed support (along with stimulus payments) I made the transition to being completely sustained by my classes on Outschool…eventually surpassing what I was earning as an in-person teacher at a private school.

I have a lot to share about my ongoing experiences with Outschool and embracing the role of virtual educator, and will offer more in another post. If anyone is looking to make a go at independent virtual teaching I’m happy to connect!

New Year Traditions

2021


Every other New Year I re-start my blog…so in the spirit of tradition and trying again here we go! In this iteration I plan to share about my Master’s degree explorations in Innovative Early Childhood Education, my journey from in-person to virtual educator, Yoga, art-making and motherhood.

making Mardi Gras

My favorite thing about Mardi Gras is the communal creative spirit it conjures. In New Orleans and most of South Louisiana there’s an air of frenzied energy around. It usually (for me) starts right around the beginning of the New Year and then, depending on how early or late Mardi Gras falls, builds up steam until Mardi Gras day in February or March. It’s such a delight to build costumes, headpieces and throws for the simple purpose of sharing wonder and joy.

hello again. 2019 reboot

 

IMG_8768

Yesterday I remembered that almost every New Year’s day in the last decade or so I rebooted my blog. For whatever reason I tend towards removing said blog somewhere around Summer, but the idea of putting it up for a time is compelling.

 

Though I’ve shuffled my professional titles a bit in recent years, art making and appreciation remain a driving force in my work. Since August 2016 I’ve worked as a full time preschool educator in a Reggio-inspired school here in New Orleans. I’m also teaching children’s Yoga classes and continuing to explore art making (mostly for myself and my home.).

 

Maybe this year I’ll focus more on interactive blogging? Wishing you all the best, happy 2019.

moves

Countdown to big change…gonna see how my hermit ways take to living in the city (once again). Thinking it’ll be a good blend of home, studio and “outing” time this go-round. I’m certainly due for  a refill in the sensory input department. August marks the move date. Ayeeeeee.

 

 

so automatic

This post was locked away in drafts for years. Sharing the updated version now since its all still quite true. And since I’ve grown to be braver today than I was then…and because although I am slightly hesitant to share this post (its graphic and personal) I’m doing it anyway (obviously…) in hopes of inspiring something good. Whatever that may be. LOVE and LIGHT ALWAYS.

(sketch book drawings circa 2002- 2007)

I’m living in the house, built by my dad and maternal grandfather, that I grew up in. I lived here until I was 8, then moved with my parents, brother and sister next door to the other house my dad built. Our family called this house “the other house” for a while, and used it for storage. It is quite the time capsule. There was an old stereo system with a record player and 8-track player, lots of records and 8-tracks from the 70’s, a cabinet with liquor from my parent’s wedding (still untouched, decades later), and later, a pool table… I moved in here “on my own” when I was 18, then moved out when I was 23 and back in and out again several times from when I was 26 until now.

I’m here constantly surrounded by physical reminders of my past, some joyful, some creepy and sad. Among the old books, toys and random leftover stuff from the 1980’s in the attics/closets/cabinets are boxes upon boxes of my journals and sketchbooks. I once was a person who sketched/doodled/drew and wrote all the time. All. The. Time. In lieu of speaking to people, I drew and I wrote. It started when I was around 11 or 12 with typical stuff in my kitty cat journal. Then more typical tween stuff in my little blue diary with the little gold key. Then when I was 13/14 some things happened and the books multiplied. My brain chemistry changed and I put myself in dangerous situations with other unsupervised kids and I was taken advantage of most likely because I was a dumb, overly-trusting, insecure, pretty young girl. My first ” boyfriend” literally kicked me after I confronted him about his physically and emotionally pressuring me to be intimate with him. I didn’t tell anyone about this at the time, except for one trusted girlfriend and my books. I buried the memory until about 10 years later, when it exploded out of me with terrible consequence. It was’t until several years after that first decade-overdue reveal that I was able to talk about it and then really start the process of forgiving myself for being so angry at myself for all those years.

So, back to the books. The writing evolved to darker pondering over that particular experience, as well as thoughts on Catholicism, trustworthiness of friends and various other existential crisis (probably typical of most teenagers). In my senior year of high school, when I started considering going to college to major in fine art, I began to draw more. I was half drawing to try to figure out the proper way to draw “life”, and half drawing to escape life. The Surrealists call the practice automatic drawing, and some consider it to be a sort of yoga for artists. I know that the drawing and stream-of-consciousness writing helped me to work through many dark days…but never really turned into something I felt comfortable with selling to people as an art object…which is one of the reasons why I probably should just burn most of these books and finally release the darkness.(…but first I’ll blast some of the drawings to the internets!)

My point is that writing and drawing and sharing is beneficial. It is somewhat unfortunate, that many of the things I’ve felt compelled to share are negative and unpleasant. But it is very fortunate, for some, that these same things are useful for learning or connecting, especially for young people who have had similarly unpleasant experiences. This year I plan to return to teaching art and mentoring youth. After doing that work for almost 7 years I needed to recharge and regroup (and finish figuring myself out). I’m now ready to rock, as it were. Anyway. There are drawings about conflicts attached to this post.