Hello there, educator friends and colleagues! I hope this note finds you in a good moment. Good moments are crucial and to be cherished to be sure.
Though they aren’t everything. Let me explain.
July brought so many good moments for my family.
My wife and I took several weeks off of work. We limited our fretting over the state of the world by staying away from social media and ignoring the news. Our little family managed to create some bubbles of being where we were able to savor so many small pleasures. Our dog’s first kayak ride. Garden veggies straight from vine to mouth. Our daughters’ first backpacking trip. Spotting comet NEOWISE nestled under the Milky Way. Guiltlessly lazy mornings. Countless river plunges.
I came to appreciate the little things. I was really truly present there for a bit.
But eventually we had to leave our bubble and the big stuff came back into focus. I won’t lie, the transition was rough. I hoped to have built up a reservoir of resilience to draw on as I returned to reality. But instead, after a few weeks of living in blissful denial, I was raw and quickly overwhelmed. Unnecessary pain. Cruel and unjust systems of oppression. In education, too many tough decisions amidst too little respect for teachers.
It seemed impossible that the wonderful little moments that fed my soul could exist in the same universe as the relentless intractable big stuff that made me want to either hide or burn it all down.
When I find myself profoundly confused, anxious, or paralyzed, I’ve learned to ask for help. From many sources, I was brought back to my core value of love. bell hooks talks about love as an act of will, as both an intention and an action. In any given moment, I can love those around me by connecting, showing compassion, asking what they need and trying my best to provide it. It’s something I can control.
But I have to deal with the big stuff too. I work with others in my community to make it a more welcoming and liberatory space. I collaborate with amazing educators to try to transform systems to fully value and serve every student. And I constantly interrogate the oppressor within myself so I can strive to be anti-racist.
It’s not either/or. It’s both/and. Perhaps that’s why Cornel West calls justice, “What love looks like in public.”
Teacher friends, you inspire me.
You are masters of navigating the big stuff while creating magical moments. And you speak up to the system while showing up for your students. You name the injustices while learning the name of every student. And you address the pain of the world, and how to make it better, while creating bubbles where students can be part of a learning and loving community.
I appreciate y’all so much.
No matter how uncertain or worrisome the big stuff becomes, I am heartened by the inevitability that children will have powerful positive experiences in your care. They will learn, they will belong, they will be loved. Even if but for a moment, it will be worth savoring.
Thank you for all you do,