I slept in until 6:00 a.m. on Friday because the early morning wake ups are not as helpful when the internet is down. Plus, the added sleep was needed by my body as it tries to process all of the trauma that was all around us in Central Texas during the week.

That morning my phone was able to work fairly well as a hotspot and I had enough internet to read some online articles. I read some education related articles, which is never a super great way to start the day because of how frustrating it is to hear education folks talking about how to manipulate kids into performing for the system, instead of using the system as a vehicle to maximize the quality of life for the child. Oftentimes the focus of these articles is not even on the children, it is on the adults, but with the same end of performance in mind.

One such article talked about the importance of schools reducing stress and burnout on teachers, and not placing the responsibility of well-being on the teachers who are subjected to the structures and practices of schooling. It said, “Instead of “make space to restore your balance” or “find time to exercise more,” schools need to acknowledge their role in the problem and put in place the structures, practices, and time for self-care, reflection, and general well-being among educators, school staff, and the leaders themselves.” And yes, absolutely, who can disagree with that?

They even provided seven ideas for schools to start with:

  1. Survey Teachers—And Listen to Them

  2. Give Teachers an (Actual) Break

  3. Stop Watching the Clock

  4. Create Shared Agreements

  5. Plan for Regular and Informal Check-Ins

  6. Schedule Planning Time for Teachers

  7. Model and Support Wellness

That is certainly a great place to start. But what about the kids? How could this list be altered to serve children? What if we tried to make sense of the list by replacing the word “teachers” with “students”, and adjusting the rest of it so that it was relevant to young people? Let’s start with the quoted sentence above, first: “Instead of “[mindfulness]” schools need to acknowledge their role in the problem and put in place the structures, practices, and time for self-care, reflection, and general well-being among [students].”

And here are seven ideas on how to get started:

  1. Survey [students]—And Listen to Them

  2. Give [students] an (Actual) Break

  3. Stop [forcing attendance]

  4. Create [consensual] Agreements

  5. Plan for Regular and Informal Check-Ins

  6. Allow for unlimited free play

  7. Model and Support Wellness

It is not very difficult to serve the needs of children … if you let go of schooling.

Then I began to work on the blog post for day 92 so that I did not fall behind on my goal of one blogpost per day during this pandacademic year. While I was doing that I received a Slack message from Facilitator Ariel concerning some anxiety he was feeling over not being present enough at Abrome during the week as he was supporting mutual aid efforts in the area. I jumped on a quick call to assure him that what he was doing was vitally important, and that he was modeling exactly the type of behavior that is so critical for young people to see—people helping people. It’s not like sitting around constantly checking to see if internet is working, like me, was exactly being present at Abrome.

In the morning meeting Facilitator Ariel led with deep breaths as a grounding practice, then shared the agenda, and very quickly reviewed the Community Awareness Board. Each of us then shared something we had been grateful for during the challenging week: having good service at house, all of you at Abrome, and my Subaru; grateful for everyone at Abrome—life has been rough and you help me get through it; spectrum person who turned on the internet; same as [what the prior Learner / his sibling said]; a friend in Atlanta checked in on me and shared some really helpful information; “I rather keep it to myself”; I have power and electricity; mutual support among family and community; being in power grid where power stays on; dogs.

Next up was the weekly Check-in and Change-up meetings where we co-create culture with one another. Everyone stuck around for the Check-in which was appreciated. One of the older Learners raised an awareness of people talking over others in meetings. No one else raised any awarenesses so Facilitator Lauren adjourned the meeting and then started the Change-up meeting, which two Learners stuck around for. While we only had two prior awarenesses on the Community Awareness Board and were only considering one new one, we really dug in to understand what our needs were and how to articulate them. The older Learner in particular was very engaged in the process. It was a good meeting that we can hopefully leverage over our last two days of the cycle (Monday and Tuesday).

Modified high five

Modified high five

Having only completed one 7-minute workout during the week, I was intent on trying to make on Friday. Unfortunately, because I was still without reliable internet I was going to have to try to do it off of my phone. Facilitator Lauren helped me test to see if I could simultaneously run Zoom and the workout app off of my phone, and I found that I could, but that any attendees would not be able to hear the app. I decided that I would just narrate the workout and do the countdowns for the attendees. It turned out to be just the two of us, and it turned out to be an energizing and tiring workout. We did not miss our chance to give each other high fives after the workout, as usual, but I had to adapt my high five considering I had no video.

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As the day inched forward I spent much of my time doomscrolling on my phone. While doomscrolling is typically not a great way to spend time, I had too much on my mind to do anything as productive as writing, or to do anything as enjoyable as reading. Besides, we were on the tail end of a humanitarian disaster in Austin. Not a Katrina level disaster, but enough of a disaster that hundreds of thousands of people in Austin realized that our best hope was to help each other, as those in positions of leadership are anywhere from ambivalent to antagonistic to the needs of the people. The good news is that the ice was melting, people were getting their power back, and most of the housed and the houseless survived the Texas freeze. But we were not in the clear quite yet, as many had been stranded with insufficient food and supplies for the week. Additionally, most of the city had no water. Thankfully there were people on the ground helping others.

Meanwhile, Facilitator Ariel was busy driving all over town picking up and delivering supplies. The biggest haul of the day was when they got word that Whole Foods was about to throw out a bunch of food, so he and some others rushed over to see if they could take the food to immediately distribute to those in need. Fortunately, everyone at Whole Foods was in agreement that the food should be offered up to the mutual aid effort.





Another unexpected benefit of the freeze is that I think all the Abrome Learners and their families will have a good appreciation for what it means to be prepared to meet in-person in cold weather now. But the Learners who were without power for days may feel that they now have an immunity to the cold, although I don’t think that will be the case.

On Discord, one of the Learners pointed out that it has been 10 years since the “Friday” song by Rebecca Black was released. I looked for an update about that and stumbled upon a video that pointed out that she was so relentlessly bullied at school after her video went viral that her mom pulled her from school so that she could homeschool. Great move, mom! I later found out that she had just released a remix and shared that on Discord, as well. That was about the extent of my interaction with the Learners outside of the meetings on Friday. I had a Discord hangout offering and a free write offering on the schedule for that day, but no Learners showed up for them.

Facilitator Lauren was able to connect with two adolescent Learners during the day. The two who had been without power for much of the week. Both meetings were positive and energetic, with one of the check-in ins running a half hour long. During that meeting the Learner was more interested in talking about the pandemic and whether or not we would be able to have a normal, pandemic-free fall. Facilitator Lauren also had a movement and music offering that an older Learner showed up for where they shared music with each other.

By the afternoon I was in position to host the afternoon roundup. I shared the agenda, reviewed the new awareness and the updated practices on the Community Awareness Board, and then opened the meeting for announcements. For the prompts I asked people to please raise their hand either on video or with the Zoom emoji. The prompt was, what is one or two things you learned this week that could help you help others during the next crisis? I asked for the Learners to take the prompt seriously so that we could all learn from each other. We took time to reflect and then shared: get to know your neighbors, build mutual aid networks; conserve electricity and water, be mindful of how my actions impact others, put more effort and energy into helping other people prep; I learned we should be prepared no matter what because we never know, trying to help others; get extra firewood to share; check for updates to share info, limit electricity; be prepared — get a flashlight, be on standby, have water and food; getting to know your neighbors; conserve electricity; I have friends who have trailers and stuff so I can use them to help others; didn’t learn anything. Well, hopefully the person who did not learn anything learned something from the other Learners.

And that was the day. And that was the week. A particularly exhausting week in a particularly exhausting month of the pandacademic year. We survived, and many of us left the week with a much greater appreciation of community and of finding ways to support others.