Reflections on Another End to a School Year
June 16, 2020
I don’t have to tell you that this end is like no other end I’ve experience in the decades I’ve been an educator. Different, yes… Challenging, yes… But what we’ve learned… about ourselves, about our learning community, about our teaching… about our capacity… about our flexibility.
I write today not from the filtered sunlight of the messy literacy center in that aging elementary school that’s been my home for a decade, but from my lower level library sanctuary. My husband built this sanctuary for me that decade ago when I desperately missed my former life in the midwest. It lay here mostly a repository for books that couldn’t fit in my school corner or I was temporarily not using. It remained dusty. Honestly I can’t remember ever working in this room. choosing instead my sunny screen porch, the patio, the sweet bench in the garden as my summer study place.
This year however, this little library became a shelter, a fortress, a capsule. In this little room quietly tucked under the back porch, away from the bustle of our home life, I could be ‘at work’. At work during those hours that I needed to be. At the end of the day, I shut the door and ‘commuted’ back to my home.
This was a luxury for me. I’ve seen kitchen tables, living room walls, baskets, bags, all organized as we began to create not the space we left, but a whole new space to learn and teach.
When I reflect on these last three months, that’s what I consider, those makeshift, make-do, dream up magical spaces you created for your students. In my district, we had no warning. The closure came along like a hurricane and we took the clothes on our backs, the stash in our cars, our bags, our homes, and began to make new learning with that. I’m not going to lie, it was devastating. The first week or so, I felt completely adrift. How could I coach or intervene from here… when they were there?
As with any other situation in education, we began to gain our sea legs. We’ve had tough spaces to work in, difficult schedules, hard combinations, budget limits. In other words, we’ve adapted before. Perhaps not this way, but as teachers and learners, it’s in our nature to grow and change. So grow and change, we did.
I spent an hour this morning, sifting through the pictures I took of you teaching during this time, looking at the notes I filled my conferring notebook with, smiling at the thought of each of you growing, adapting, trying, challenging, and generally teaching your hearts out for the last sixty school days or so. Here’s what I noticed.
You never lost your sense. of humor or your heart for kids.
You taught yourself so many amazing things and create so much from whatever you found laying around (metaphorically and actually)
You didn’t let those kids off the hook; you emailed, you google-met (is that a verb?), you listened, you encouraged and they… came around.
You taught!… and you played. You celebrated and you learned about every single thing kids were doing when they weren’t there on the screen with you.
You watched TV shows so you could talk about them. You recommended movies and books and games. Still you encouraged.
You noticed hair styles and hair color, stuffies and live animals. You noticed hard days and celebrations, breakfast choices and pink cheeks.
And still. you taught: poetry, the American Revolution, fractions, pollinators, biographies, habitats, geography, reading, writing and persistence. You taught A LOT!
You kept it going and now… let’s take a rest. Let’s read and take walks, smile and bake, breathe deeply, paint, garden and wait… The next thing will come soon. But for now, let’s be okay. Let’s be joyful. Let’s celebrate.