Today of all days we needed to get out of the classroom and out into the world of art, artifacts, and architecture, if for no other reason than to return the joyous smiles to our lucky busload of students. These kiddos have hung in through the shut-down of COVID, the masked return, the uncertainty of their future, civil liberties, freedoms, and especially their lives. Even with the wind blowing at a mighty clip, or perhaps in awe of it, we stood in front of Nancy Winship Milliken’s moving sculptures and allowed the conversation to soar. Nothing like a road-trip field-trip to generate well-needed good vibes to keep spirits moving to the positive.
Often I end my school year on a high, feeling each student’s gain as my own, each of their successes intrinsically linked to my doing. Well, perhaps that is a bit egotistically, but I do work very very hard all year long, meeting students where they are, and helping them make steps toward their goals, so often I celebrate their favorable results. Equally true is my sense of loss when they don’t hit the mark.
But this year, there is no meter or measurement that could calculate as it once did. While in dismissal, so many students worked through remarkable challenges to attend google meets whether on their beds, on a Spring-time sunny deck, sitting in isolation while in noisy kitchens, or even driving in a car, and often times with confusion and worry etched into their faces. Yet together we moved into unknown territory to find meaning and hope and the value in learning, despite uneven odds. There is little to discuss about school prior to March, as what followed was so unprecedented, but all the work I did (and teachers around the globe did) to keep students’ trust, to reenergize their enthusiasm, and to maintain consistent pathways for them to work remotely, were crafted and put solidly in place, and that speaks volumes. Students, many who were at first melancholy over everything they lost, gained strength from each other, from this new community, and worked diligently until the end. I am proud of their integrity and resolve.
I really love my job, and nothing could have proven it faster than taking it away from me. Driving up the lamp-post lined Copley Hill to the hundred year old brick building with a hummingbird mural and entering to walk the creaky wood floors to my classroom, the same one I have stood in surrounded by fabulous individuals for over two decades, was my day to day. I miss unlocking that door, greeting the quiet few who always arrive early. Now I get ready for class at our dining room table in the one large space that is kitchen, dining, and living room combined, with windows facing all four directions. Notebook to scribble thoughts for the day, laptop open to a dozen tabs, hot black tea at my elbow, I’m slowly working out how to engage for 45 minutes via a fuzzy and often interrupted google meet twice weekly with my students. Like everyone I know in the school system, I am nonstop problem-solving, whether with curriculum shifts, individual student conferences, talking to para-educators and special educators or with concerned parents. By 4:00 most days I’m intellectually challenged and emotionally drained. But by 4:00 what I’m mostly aware of is how much I miss my students. Miss that class room life. Not every second of it, but most every second with them and all their hope. All their blue sky action.