Prank #SOL2022

It was lunchtime. I stood alone in my empty classroom on a Google Meet with two other teachers when the Bluetooth speaker came alive vibrating with the opening beat of a Michael Jackson song. Initially, I thought it was coming from the meet, then quickly realized it was in my physical space. I fumbled to turn off the soundbar, mute the microphone in the meet, and find the source.

I snort-laughed and wondered what was going on in absolute amazement at this cheekiness. I checked my phone in case a YouTube video was running in the background all the while full of doubt and believing this was some prank playfully being carried out by a former students. There was nothing that I could see on the small screen of my phone, but I shut it down, just in case. I turned off the Bluetooth speakers, and we closed out our online meeting.

Turning to walk out of the classroom for lunch “Thriller” pulsed from the speakers. Someone somewhere had turned on the speakers again, remotely, and I giggled while pulling the power cord. Clearly someone somewhere was trying to mess with me, and this was obviously all in the name of fun. And, it was suddenly a mystery to be solved.

I walked across the classroom and out the door. Students sitting beneath lockers, leaning against the concrete walls looked up at me questioningly from their phones and lunch boxes. I laughed and shared what had just happened asking them if they were playing Michael Jackson songs on their phones. Internally, I imagined a game show of student pranking teachers and then wondered if it might be a colleague in another room. But, no. It couldn’t be. They would have to have been in my room to pair their devices to my Bluetooth speaker – they had to be in range. But what was that “range”?

The students confessed it was not them, then helped me speculate, determine the possible range from which someone could perform this prank. Perhaps it was someone on another floor? Maybe it was someone in a room further down the hall? They searched for information about the ranges of Bluetooth speakers and we collectively laughed, but the mysterious prankster is still unknown.

Still “the day after” #SOL2022

Geoff Ruggero posted a call to action, one that I also felt the urgency, but emotions still roiled: intense, undefinable, and still very messy the day after a weekend of trucks arrived in Ottawa. Their reasons for protest are swirling among a sea of hate, racism, and violence, their message lost in slogans and fear of these days after.

On Saturday, Tobi decided to travel to Perth for beautiful wool and knitting patterns feeding the need to create and avoid the invasion of sound, the protestors and honking trucks, now outside her apartment in the downtown core. When she returned she texted images of men tailgating and drinking blocking the entrance the parking garage of her apartment. They leaned toward her car window with mocking maskless faces. Curtis Perry later tweeted that he was verbally harassed in the street for wearing a mask, Amanda had strategic discussions with her elementary aged children about walking to school amidst the “protestors”, and many in Ottawa watched as images of hate filled our social media and news feeds.

My heart is hot and pounding, still because this is not “the day after”. This day continues even now. I opened the grade 9 class with questions about the #FreedomConvoy. What did they think, what did they know about the protest, the images, the conflict?

“I’m confused miss. I mean, they are fighting against one law and breaking others. They peed on the monuments and did all that stuff on the tomb of the unknown soldier… but what does that have to do with vaccine mandates?”

I said that this was a good question and we decided to explore the meaning of statues and symbols which appeared in the media. We read and talked in an attempt to interpret the imagery found in their news feeds. They researched the Confederate flag, the Nazi flag (most of them knew about this already), Terry Fox, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We all shared our research and made connections with race, and class, and privilege. I then asked them to do some research on other protests which have happened in the past 10 years in Canada.

Faces looked up from screens and the room shifted. Gradually, this once boisterous, and vocal class fell silent, many choosing not to share or speak. This group were nearly unrecognizable with all eyes on me in what seemed a pleading for sense-making. Wading in mud of that moment, I felt I could not rush. Instead, I needed to draw from the foundation laid in the course – critical consciousness from our study of This Book is Anti Racist.

We were still in that moment – all of us – sitting with the need to continually address “the day after”.