Cloister Commentary, Day 22: “Grasshopper”

As I mentioned yesterday, I videoconferenced with the two Mizzou teacher interns I am supervising this year. Their student teaching journey was abruptly truncated by COVID-19–they are still assisting their as they are able with grading and virtual lessons–so we discussed the possibilities they’d encounter next fall: content challenges and limitations, stressed students with fragile economic support, explaining what is happening right now in the context of their instruction, isolation (if teachers can’t yet work in person in the fall). The potential environment is daunting, and I do not envy them. I usually let them do the talking, but I did offer them each these words of advice: try to find a crusty old veteran who still has ahold of their joy and sidle into a “grasshopper” role. Nothing helped me get my footing better; it’s not that I avoided my fellow greenhorns, but “the older guys know what it’s all about,” as someone once sang. They helped me dodge several potholes–right, Bob Bilyeu?

Nicole and I started some new shows: HBO’s adaptation of Richard Russo’s novel Empire Falls, which I just finished reading; Netflix’s The Stranger, recommended by our go-to Anglo-American TV critic Susan McDermott-Griggs; and another Netflix item, Self-Made, an impressive limited series tracing the life of Madame CJ Walker, who’s played by the always-great Octavia Spencer. It’s got fire, spunk, wit, and a surprising style and soundtrack–plus Tiffany Haddish, who threatens to steal every scene she’s in.

Streaming for Shut-Ins:

Sample an early ’80s album by Nina Simone that was just reissued and might even surprise big fans if they haven’t heard it.

And: if you want to sample Self-Made‘s soundtrack?

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