After five full months away, I walked back into my classroom on Monday. It’s funny how some things are like riding a bike (colleague interactions and project planning) while others are not (setting an alarm and sitting on my rump, staring at a screen all day). However, most of us are realizing it’s not a bike we’re riding anymore. We’re riding a roller coaster of new information, new schedules, and new guidelines, and it has not always been easy on the stomach.
I made the poor choice a week or so ago to jump into the rabbit hole of community comments on social media regarding back to school (and fall sports) decisions being made by our district. It’s tough to read accusations and criticisms toward the district for which I am proud to represent. It’s tougher to read accusations and criticisms of teachers who are currently at the whim of all district-decisions. And it’s tougher, still, when you know some of the parents and community members making such hurtful comments.
The thing many do not realize is the amount of work and thought that has been put into every detail and decision made so far. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I do NOT envy anyone in positions with decision-making power right now. No decision will be made without upsetting someone. Though I admittedly do not agree with every decision so far, I do realize and respect the time, energy, and consideration being put into each one.
I also realize how concerned and frustrated and afraid our community continues to be. While some choose to lash out with hurtful words behind the mask of their keyboards, I am trying my darndest to breathe deeply and offer some grace. Those in positions of decision-making power are facing questions and obstacles no one has ever faced before. They are human. They are our neighbors, family, friends. They are doing their best. Which is what we need to do… our best.
As I sit in my classroom in these final days before the school year begins, I have a choice. I can worry about the unknowns. I can panic about preparations. I can fear for the safety of myself and my students and families. I can argue things I know I cannot change. I can cry about not seeing the faces of every student every day.
Or I can look for silver linings. Because there are many.
I get to leave my dining room desk and return to my colorful classroom. I get to see and interact with my students every week. I get to extend and deepen discussions and learning opportunities as we navigate a new block schedule. I get to flex my creativity to create meaningful projects that combine in-person and virtual components. I get to explore profound topics of race, truth, politics, equity, mindfulness, and personal wellness with young, eager minds.
I don’t know much. But I do know exerting energy on the negative stuff is exhausting and drags me down. Putting my focus on the silver linings energizes me and lifts my spirits.
This year will be unforgettable, no doubt. I’m not ready for all that lies ahead, but I’m ready to do my best.