Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 22

Today, March 22, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Pandemic Journal, Day 10

I pulled the heavy metal door open and heard the familiar squeak.  With a sack full of bags, I entered my empty classroom.  The books, crowded together on the shelves, stared silently back at me.  Where have you been?  Where are the kids?  they asked. They didn’t know.  I felt their reproval.  On the white board, the date: March 12, 2020.  The last day I taught reading in this room.  The dark, green markered 3/12/20 now frozen in time.

Setting down my bags, I pulled out my checklist of things I needed to gather for distance learning.  Units of study, short story collections, post-its . . . this list was long.  Outside the wide windows, ominous and rolling clouds threatened rain.

I have been hearing, reading that states are beginning to issue shelter-in-place orders.  This may be my only chance to retrieve materials, I had thought to myself that morning.  Maybe not.  But better grab them while I still can.

Everywhere, signs of normalcy now felt abnormal: My daily schedule, safely inside the clear page protector, lay lonely on the round table.  My chart, “What Nonfiction Readers Do Not Do,” hung on the wall.  The bathroom sign-out sheet, now becoming dusty, rested near the door.  All normal, now not normal.

With a deep and silent breath, I commenced the gathering.

Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops,

17 thoughts on “Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 22”

  1. Yup! Our date was Friday the 13th… I have been back every day to work and gather more materials and always wonder if it is the last time I will see my classroom for the year. I LOVE my class and it all still feels surreal.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An empty classroom is a chilling reminder of our new normal. Our last day was Friday 13. We are no longer allowed back as the school is being deep cleaned. No one but our custodian is allowed to enter the space for two weeks before we return. I wonder how this experience must feel for him.

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  3. We had twenty minutes, and we were timed! I still haven’t pulled the bags and boxes out of the back of my car. You capture the eeriness of it all in your post, Lanny. The detail of the calendar really got me. There it is. There it was.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I grabbed some things this past Friday, but who knows if my list was on target or not. It certainly wasn’t well organized. It felt so strange to be in the school–bins that had been thoroughly cleaned were stacked and covered with plastic–chairs and desks had been haphazardly rearranged. The whole room felt off. You captured so much of this in your post.

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  5. This short piece is so rich with imagery, pathetic fallacy, the use of inner dialogue – it is a mentor text. I stopped and reread, ” All normal, now not normal.” and ending the piece with “gathering” is so powerful since this is a word associated with spring and suggests and attempt to collect pieces of “normal”.

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  6. Oh how I wish we could go back in to our rooms and gather the things I now know we need to do distance learning well. We left in a hurry with no real time to pack up in a thoughtful way. I’m just thankful that my two girls have always loved books and that we still have practically every book they ever received or purchased on our shelves. This is what is going to save me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reading your piece and the comments, too, really brings into focus the vastness of this crisis. The “ordinary” which was about a week or two ago is now so far gone as to be “extraordinary.” All the little routines bring a pang of loss. We will get through this.

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  8. Your last line captures this bizarre new reality perfectly—where did normal go? Our classrooms, desks, schools are almost frozen in time right now. Smart decision to go on in—our shelter in place was issued yesterday afternoon and starts at midnight tonight and will last for 30 days at a minimum.


  9. “All normal, now not normal.” I suspect I will feel the same when I’m allowed my 30 minute foray into my library this week to gather supplies; I’ve already started a list to make best use of that time. I’m also beginning to think that with all the time I’m spending on the computer these days, and in days to come, that I may have to invest in a treadmill desk, or at the very least, a standing one, to mimic the time I usually spend on my feet at school. A new normal, indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I loved that you personified your books – they have been missing their readers. Perfect imagery: ” The books, crowded together on the shelves, stared silently back at me. Where have you been? Where are the kids? they asked. They didn’t know. I felt their reproval. “


  11. This makes me teary. I’m gearing up for the half hour I’m allowed into my building to retrieve everything I might need for the foreseeable future, and I’m excited but also nervous about all the emotions it will bring to be there. I love your personification of the books, and the line about the rain outside. I especially love that line, “All normal, now not normal.”

    Liked by 1 person

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