It’s funny. With school beginning I was afraid that my brain would be too overwhelmed to formulate anything extra for a weekly blog. But when I came home this Friday my fingers, my brain, my whole body ached to write. So as I look at a basket of clean laundry needing folding to my left, and a glass of rum and coke to my right, here I sit at the dining room table full of thoughts.
Jackson Browne is a favorite singer songwriter of my brother’s. I remember hearing his haunting tunes emanating from Todd’s room when we were both teenagers at home while I was listening to the big sweeping ballads of Barry Manilow and Air Supply.
As I began developing my playlists on a brand new phone last year, I became reacquainted with Jackson Browne’s music. Not his Apartheid, developing countries material of later years, but his raw, heartfelt stuff with which I can so identify now, and probably will forever.
So, when I came home today “These Days” was playing in my too filled head as I thought about the changes that Covid-19 has brought to our little school at Parrsboro High. It’s an emotional time and a vulnerable time and we are not entirely used to seeing each other out of our comfort zones. As teachers we are used to knowing where we fit within our schools and with our kids. What was once discouraged or considered obsolete, things like separate seating, excessive outdoor learning (please, not that hippie/mother earth crap), are now encouraged. Many of us are used to the mental demands of teaching but the physical demands have increased considerably, with students staying in bubbles while we move from classroom to classroom, leaving our space with only the essential learning materials in hand, thus preventing our younger students, those we need to forge relationships with, from getting to know us more fully. Students love to know their teachers as much as we love to know them. It’s the foundation of teaching to many of us, and we feel we have been robbed this year thus far, as we stare out at a sea of masks that hide the faces of even our well known students.
So it’s no wonder that it has rocked the world of those, the vulnerables, like ourselves, the grievers. Our cocoon, of the past five months, has broken and Beatrice and I have been thrust into a world of unknowns all over again and it has been hard. We have four days in and I am hopeful that this new normal (God, how I hate that phrase) will become normal.
To say that we miss Patrick is a total understatement. I miss my mother so very much too. She would be right there offering support and listening eagerly to how our school is boldly moving forward, kind of like my neighbor Penny was when I was out walking Sally this evening. It is a unique experience to those who know the education system and how it works. And Pat, how I miss your your reassuring hugs, your practical advice, and your help in assuring Bea that this will all be okay as our 17 year old daughter begins her final year in high school.
I guess the assurance comes with the physical forward motion on this one, a few rum and cokes, and a lot of prayer. It’s counting “the quarter tones to ten”, slow and steady.
2 thoughts on “These days”
This past week my thoughts have been with our school students and with you and the other educators I know. We retired teachers can only imagine how disorienting it would be to enter the “new world” of your classroom.
Some things would be familiar. I clearly remember travelling from classroom to classroom-‘a bit annoying since you can’t carry much with you but otherwise doable. Other changes including the masks and physical/social distancing would upset the equilibrium of the school setting. I use both physical and social distancing because in effect both would be occurring. Unable to recognize a child’s emotional reactions through facial expressions is huge; separated from them by distance places a new barrier which could seriously hamper the student-teacher relationship, especially those whose classroom gardens involve the traditional academic watering of young minds combined with a liberal sprinkling of the nutrients of compassion.
Students, especially those such as Bea, facing that final High School season, face an equally daunting task. Those blessed with an understanding gardener/parent and fertile ground in which to establish their roots, will flourish. Bea has been blessed and, in the process, seems to have developed those qualities of endurance which will assure her success.
I have faith that your classroom(s) will continue to blossom. You (and all of the teachers I know) have the ability and perseverance to discover new techniques for nurturing the seedlings in your gardens.
I am confident that you and your co-workers will tend your gardens well, Melissa. Keep in mind that the gardeners will require extra loving care and respite from the winter storms to continue functioning with efficiency and grace.
Knit those dish cloths, hook those rugs, find joy in Elvis’s music and your cherished memories. Love will prevail.
Always a joy to read your kind and thoughtful words, Elaine.