Category Archives: teachers

June 2022

I look back at my last post, featuring a temp of -17, while sitting on my porch. The green surrounding me is radiating, ringing with bird songs. It is hard to believe, each season, that this miraculous, drastic change occurs, yet it does. Vermonters pour into the streets when spring finally comes. We say hi to everyone. We wear shorts when it is far too cold still. We buy flowers for the garden. We feel like me might just be okay. And our spring was long and cold and wet so it felt especially incredible (almost too hot, even) when we were graced with warmer temperatures.

And then we had another wave of Covid, but this time, whatever! Nobody cared. No mask mandates, policies where you don’t have to be negative to come to school, you can still come with symptoms. All the big events, unmasked. Anyone who hadn’t gotten sick did. So much for that spring feeling. It seems that living right now is the constant flow between joy, beauty, and illness, worry.

Then ongoing terror and horror and violence and the loss of sweet babies. The school shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas. This news took my legs out from me, it gutted and enraged me. It could be any of us, any of our kids. And these kids are OUR kids. There are no other people’s children. We cannot continue like this. We need to organize.

Join Moms Demand Action.

Call your representatives.

Demand action.

I have done all of these things and it is not enough.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Ask my friends in New Zealand and Australia, and most recently, Canada. I can’t say much more than this. I don’t have the words. I have a lot of thoughts about what society has asked of teachers during the Covid pandemic, and in the unending wake of gun violence. But right now, my thoughts are not yet organized. They will be.

For now, I am going to make it through the last week of school, celebrate my scholars and how far they have come. I’m going to keep looking at the leaves and the hummingbirds, keep my perch on the porch when I can.

Sending love and abundant June sunshine your way.

The 10 Year Long January and New Posts

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.

For teachers who taught in the first full pandemic year, 2020-2021

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on photo site, Unsplash

I shared this poem with our team of teachers gathered this week for the Middle Grades Institute, but really, it is for all teachers who taught in this pandemic year.

We cannot begin this, this 28th year of MGI, w/o acknowledging that this year was different than any other year in so many ways. Before we really get into our work this week, we wanted to take a few moments and recognize the monumental efforts you put forth this school year.

Here is a poem for you, for us, teachers who taught in the pandemic year, 2020-2021.

You showed up
with your body
and your mind
and your heart
day in and day out
while most of the world
worked safely at home.

You showed up
when unprotected
and uncertain
that you or your family
would be safe.

When the ground beneath your feet
shifted everyday.
Your feet searching for purchase
and sand pouring between your toes
as you tried to stand up.

You showed up
smiled and greeted
elbow bumped and air high fived
you questioned and encouraged
and you read aloud books
your throat sore
your voice muffled.

You wiped down tables
and markers
you ate lunch in your car
or in the hallway
or in the utility closet.

You did this every day
until many nights
you could only sit on the couch
and stare.

You showed up
making facial expressions
as hard as you could
with just your eyes
and you wore that mask
for 7 hours at a time
while the rest of the world
complained about wearing them
for 5 minutes in the gas station.

You showed up
as families changed
nerves frayed
kids cried or acted out
and you let them know
that you were there with them.
They were not alone.

You advocated and emailed.
You knew who needed food
and who needed help with the first steps
and who might just need to say hi.
You lost sleep and had laughs.

You planned remote, hybrid, in person lessons
with new tools and new skills and deep breaths
and followed up when you didn’t see a student
for days.

Then you STILL went grocery shopping
took care of parents, children, neighbors, partners.
You missed birthdays and vacations and reunions
managing your own disappointments
and helping others with theirs.

You did first shift, second shift, third shift.
While trying to care of the delicate bird
of your mind
keeping fear at bay

sometimes.

You showed up. In all the ways you could.
Every. Single. Day. All Year. Long.
It was monumental and heroic and held up the world.

(I wish you rest and joy and rejuvenation
and family and love and all good things this summer
and may it protect and heal you.)

(And I know the teacher as hero trope is problematic in so many ways, but I couldn’t help it here.)