Tag Archives: teachers

For teachers who taught in the 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.)

Supporting teachers, emotional labor, critical project-based learning (Winter updates)

Warming up.

I am relieved January is behind us. It is deep deep winter here in Vermont. Very little light. But there is a quiet beauty, even if your fingers and toes sting with the cold. Like the woods behind my house. Always quiet, beautiful, waiting for a visit. They stand guard and connect me to a world beyond impeachment, caucus meltdowns, and other human issues.

Since Why Great Teachers Quit and How We Might Stop the Exodus was published in 2010 I have been pondering, how would I write about that now? What would I add? I wrote a recent post for Edutopia with some new thinking about the hugely important issue of supporting teachers for a long and happy career in the field of education. It is crystal clear to me that we must work to increase the humanity we extend to teachers and students in schools, and create what Carla Shalaby calls in Troublemakers:

Resurrect our imagination for schooling as a deeply human, wildly revolutionary site of possibility.

Here are 7 ways to make teaching a sustainable profession, and these ideas are not revolutionary.. but they are ways to build the kind of learning environments we know support the growth and emotional health of teachers and students. I would also add the importance of building supportive teacher networks and communities, online and off as essential to this work.

Another piece that is often overlooked and undervalued is the emotional labor teachers put forth each day. I wrote about that over here at the TIIE blog. This one is personal for sure. I hope that we can validate and make visible the care and effort teachers give students each day.

Lastly, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we tend to focus on what is wrong before we focus on what is right. How can we bring a strength-based lens to project-based learning work so students can learn deeply about the values of their communities? By intentionally planning it.

One of the beauties we found on the dirt road outside our house. Can’t wait!

And the salamanders will be coming…. soon! I’m excited to head to a few schools this spring to share about the great salamander migration and Salamander Sky and how to write for change.

Thanks for reading!

Begin with Bravery, Meaningful Work and Self Care

This weekend teachers and students are anxious. The new school year for many begins Monday. Floating in teachers’ minds: What will the class be like? Will my colleagues, new parents,  and the administration be supportive?  Endless to-do lists float in mid air behind your eyelids as you try to fall asleep. The work is never ending, and the school year hangs in the air like a floating question mark.

Stop the barrage of thoughts. You are ready, and you know what to do. Please read this poem for teachers, and know:

The time for sacred work is here.
It matters. You matter.
We lift each other up.
Walk on, tribe.
Go, live love.
The world needs you.

We at the Tarrant Institute for Innovation  Education see the incredible work you do, and we want to celebrate it.  We’ve launched a campaign called #everydaycourage to showcase the ways you and your colleagues show up for students, each other, and our communities. We hope that you will share your photos, tweets, comments and ideas about your colleagues showing everyday courage (use the hashtag #everydaycourage so we can see them!). Here are a few moments of #everydaycourage I have been inspired by in recent days.

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