All my thinking and writing has been on a slower program, as we slog through the cold and the phases of this pandemic. Coming back from break and into the new year, at the peak of the Omicron virus was.. something. I finally found the words and wrote about it for Edweek.
The responses to my original tweet that led to that post were heartbreaking and illuminating. I wanted to reach out and hug every single educator who responded, every parent who showed solidarity and support, and all of the health care workers who have dealing with impossible conditions for far too long. I wrote about the emerging themes for We Are Teachers.
Lastly, I read at a fever pitch this deftly reported book on climate change education by Katie Worth. Sometimes it takes a journalist shining a bright light on an issue, going way back, making connections and showing evidence over time, to give us a clear eye on how we got here. I encourage all parents, educators, and concerned citizens (and well, everyone!) to read it too, and think about how we can do better.
But mostly, I hope you are taking care of yourself. Resting. Getting out in nature when you can. Finding pockets of joy and love.
I sit here in the November rain (for about 1,000 days now), with the wood stove fire popping and glowing. I am so thankful for my health, family, friends and school community. What a blur the fall has been — the pandemic, teaching with daily changes, stressors, and situations, the election (which feels like years ago now). I saw something that blew my mind. A simple number, and the calendar. In 3 months, it will be March again. Can you believe that? Oh, how the world has changed. So much has happened. So much loss and turmoil, but also, hopefully, growth and change.
For right now, for the holiday season, I wish these things for you:
What is your list of things keeping you going on the day to day? Mine includes:
Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (Seriously. These are no joke. Have 1-3 and feel very decadent. Rewarded for making it through the day. But now they are ALL GONE).
Good TV. We recently did a Harry Potter movie marathon and it was so joyful, like seeing old friends, rediscovering lines and scenes I had since forgotten (and yes, I still cried you know where and you know why). We’ve also watched We Are Freestyle Love Supreme (incredible, but parents, swearing, if you care!) and Hot Chocolate Nutcracker (we have a serious dancer in the house).
Good books. Recent high quality reads include I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (YA), The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker (MG), and All American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney.
The Calm App. I cannot say enough good things about doing this for 10 minutes a day. Honestly, sometimes I think it is the only thing that can really help me manage my fears and get in the right headspace for parenting and teaching. This is worth every dime to me and is now a daily practice.
Nature. Exercise. Even for 20 minutes. Even a walk while calling a parent or friend. Just get moving. I always feel better about everything after I do this, even if only for a few minutes.
What is keeping you going? What shows are you watching, books have you read? Who are YOUR favorite Harry Potter characters? I would love to hear about it.
And if you are holiday book shopping, I would be honored to have you check out my books! You can look at the links on this page to learn more about each one. You’ll find Salamander Sky (illustrated by Meg Sodano) for your nature loving, curious younger kids, and The Order of the Trees, an environmental, magical novel for upper elementary students. And for the teachers in your lives, I’ve got several options there, too, including our newest, Personalized Learning for the Middle Grades. If you are interested, please ask for them at your local, independent bookstore!
Wishing you and yours well. Stay safe and healthy.
First of all, sending wishes for love and health to you and your family. These are overwhelming times. The world feels out of control, big and scary. But I am also seeing so much love, humanity, and a return to focus on what really matters. Connecting (not literally) with each other, checking in to see how the folks we love are doing, and creating things that will make this time better for everyone.
Many had forgotten. I sure had. The slowing down, the news, the changing reality, has put into sharp focus the goal of helping others and caring for loved ones.
I saw that an author and person I greatly admire, Kate Messner, was gathering videos of authors reading aloud their books for kids who are now learning at home. First, I thought, I can do that! The salamander season is soon to begin. Then I thought, ugh, I have to change from my PJs! I have to face the video camera. I know nothing about video!
Well, how many things are we doing right now that feel hard? And this isn’t even hard! Just hitting record and fiddling a bit. So, along with my sneezing cat, I recorded a video of me reading Salamander Sky, which was illustrated by the incredible Meg Sodano and published by Green Writers Press. We have many resources to extend learning about the salamander (and amphibian) migration!
There is an educator’s guide which has a letter from me, plans for project-based learning, science learning, discussion questions, and multi-media resources. Meg has created some fabulous visual resources including this coloring page of a vernal pool, and this identification guide for spotted salamanders. Please be in touch with any questions that your kids might have!
In addition, on Facebook I have been sharing publicly the many resources I see for families to help with at home learning. The same goes for Twitter. I have been retweeting all of the incredible resources and opportunities for virtual learning I have seen.
If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. I’d love to see those finished coloring pages, and I will certainly stream when the migration begins! We are in this together and it is showing us what is important, and the work we have to do to create more just, equitable, and humane systems. Sending love and good health your way.