I woke up at 4:40 a.m., excited to get this second cycle of our outdoor, pandemic year going. I slowly gathered myself and then headed out for a nice 2.3 mile run in the very pleasant, cool, October morning air. The moon lit up the sky which made it feel like I was running at 7:00 a.m., instead of 5:00 a.m. During the run I focused on breathing entirely through my nose, which made the beginning of the run particularly difficult, but by the time I hit my stride I was breathing long, slow breaths, and I surprised myself by breaking the ten minute per mile mark by thirty seconds, in spite of the hills.

When I got back I showered, and then read some more of Breath, the book we are reading in the Education Conversations book group that I lead at the local library, and the book that has me focusing on how I breathe when I run and at at other times throughout the day. At 6:50 a.m. I double checked the weather forecast for the day and updated the website for our families, and was then distracted by a school bus pulling up outside for the first time this year. I was checking the weather and updating the website because we promise families that we will let them know by 7:00 a.m. if we have to meet remotely due to inclement weather. And I could only shake my head that kids were boarding the bus (not a very good Covid-19 practice) to go to school (also not a very good Covid-19 practice) while probably every Abrome Learner was still in bed, and would be for another couple of hours (our day starts at 10:00 a.m.).

After getting lost thinking about inhumane school schedules are (and not just for remote students), I meant to then settle into writing at around got sucked into checking my email, checking Slack, checking my messages, checking a chat board about Covid-19, checking the news, and checking social media. The world is still on fire.

But I am finally writing again. And I have less than an hour to get this blog post out so that I can show up on time for the first day of our second cycle. Fortunately I spent time last evening packing myself lunch, packing my backpack, and laying out the clothes and supplies I needed for today. That leaves me with less anxiety over time considering my detour into email, Slack, messages, chat boards, news, and social media.

This next cycle is hopefully a fabulous one. Unlike last cycle, when my cell had two Facilitators, this time I will be the lone Facilitator in the cell. We will have a visitor joining our cell for the first week who is hoping to start a teen-based Agile Learning Center in the near future, so that should be fun. We also shook up the compositions of the cells, so while I will have three of the same Learners I had in my cell last cycle, I will also have three Learners that were in the other cell.

Last cycle we were feeling our way through some of the challenges of being outdoors (especially when it was hot, or when it was colder and rained), being physically distant, and having some of the Learners and Facilitators that we wanted to be around in another part of the city. With this cycle we tried to organize the cells a bit more by age so that more Learners could be with Learners they could reliably show up for each day. However, given our limited cell sizes (maxing out at seven Learners per cell) we will need to make difficult calls each cycle, and the cutoff for who is in each cell will not always make each Learner happy. I had a couple of calls this weekend to explain that to Learners, but I also showed them the tracker we are using to ensure that over the eleven cycles of this academic year that they each get to spend time with every Learner and every Facilitator about the same amount of time as the other Learners get. The exception being siblings, who will always be in the same cell because the entire point of physically distant cells that meet for three weeks at a time is to prevent cross contamination of cells if someone in our community were to get infected.

With the two days off that we had last week I was able to get some rest and relaxation in. Although the day I took off for a road trip in rural Texas was far less relaxing than anticipated because I saw an ungodly number of political flags at every turn, and lots of drunk people congregating without masks each time I tried to visit a brewery or winery. And by lots, I mean I only saw one person (out of probably 200 total) wearing a mask when I drove by each establishment. And he was wearing it around his neck. I ended up not getting out of my vehicle at any of the four breweries or wineries, and returned home where I finally had a drink in shock at the disregard people have for controlling this pandemic, and quite frankly very concerned about the next several months.

But other than my day off, I was working and preparing for the coming cycle at Abrome, or for Abrome’s future. One task I finally got off my plate was doing an analysis of the survey each Abrome household filled out before we started the year. While I had reviewed the individual responses of each household (Learners and Facilitators), I had not found the time to take a step back and look at the overall posture the community was taking toward the pandemic in their personal lives. And I was thrilled to see that as a community we are doing quite well in our pandemic beliefs and practices. I wrote up a blog post on the results and shared it with the families, and I encourage anyone who is interested in enrolling at Abrome to look at it, as well. Anyone who does not take the pandemic seriously is not going to be a good fit here.

This cycle I plan to focus on being present with the Learners, being playful (and bringing games to the table each day), connecting with the Learners, and staying active. I also plan to finally learn how to solve a Rubik’s cube, and I want to learn the basics of playing the ukulele I bought for this year. Today I will also check in with the Learners to see if they want to do a longer-term project or activity this cycle. Of course I will continue to focus on getting a full night’s sleep each night (eight hours minimum for me), and I will encourage the Learners to do the same. And it should be fairly easy for them to get a full night’s sleep, because unlike their conventional schooled peers, their day starts at 10:00 a.m.—they don’t have to catch the bus at 6:50 a.m. in the morning.


Cove photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash