A Teacher’s Guide to Inauguration in 36 Easy Steps

or, Reflections from the Evening of January 19, 2021: How to Manage to Stay Afloat for the Next Eighteen Hours and Hold up the Walls of the World While it Watches, Waits, Breathless

  1. Pull yourself away from noise.
  2. Pet your dog.
  3. If you don’t have a dog, pretend to have a dog.
  4. Drink something warm.
  5. Listen, just for a moment, to tomorrow’s poet, Amanda Gorman.
  6. No. I mean really. Go listen. It’ll take you two minutes.
  7. Pass the tissues.
  8. Get a good bedtime.
  9. Wake up. Look at yourself in the mirror.
  10. Don’t just find the visage in the glass. Find the PERSON behind it.
  11. Don’t tell yourself “You’ve got this.” You’re tired of hearing that.
  12. Don’t tell yourself to breathe. You’re tired of hearing that, too.
  13. Tell yourself that you will get through today.
  14. Just like you do every day.
  15. Even the most difficult ones.
  16. Because that’s what we do.
  17. Get yourself to school, or to your Zoom, on time.
  18. Or not. Folks aren’t taking tardies today.
  19. Remember that our children are the reason we get up each day.
  20. Put your suffocating dread in its own breakout room.
  21. Tell your students you have faith in them.
  22. Tell your students you have faith in this world.
  23. Tell them again. Most of them won’t believe you the first time.
  24. Tell them they are part of history, that future children will hold their lives between the pages of a textbook.
  25. You will get through the day.
  26. Just like you do every day.
  27. Even the most difficult ones.
  28. Because that’s what we do.
  29. Close your computer and walk away.
  30. Do what you need to do to unclinch your white-knuckled grasp from your fear and anxiety.
  31. Because tomorrow your children will be waiting for you.
  32. They will need to hear, again, of your faith in the world.
  33. They will need to hear, again, of your faith in them.
  34. And again.
  35. And again.
  36. And again.

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16 Responses to “A Teacher’s Guide to Inauguration in 36 Easy Steps”

  1. Tim Gels Says:

    Lainie, I have so much love for this post. Thank you. Thank you.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thank YOU. It was something I just felt I needed to put out into the world. Glad and grateful that I have the tools to do it. =)

  2. arjeha Says:

    What a great list and good advice. We all have a choice and what we choose to do will color all that follows. We will get through because, “that’s what we do”.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      That IS what we do. And yes, you are right – it is our choice because we know how deeply those choices affect those around us.

  3. Ramona Says:

    I needed to read this tonight. Thanks for writing.

  4. mgminer Says:

    This list is perfect. Your students are fortunate to have a teacher who believes that a better world is possible. The poem is usually my favorite part of Inaugural ceremonies!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thank you! I’m not sure how I could live if I DIDN’T think a better world is possible…

      And. So much depends on poetry, doesn’t it?

      • mgminer Says:

        I haven’t been participating as much with SOL (need to remedy that!), but when I saw your name, I remembered how much I love reading your words and receiving your feedback. Thank you so much.

  5. britt Says:

    I read this, and then had my husband pause his video game so I could read it aloud to him. Beautiful. I had to catch my breath. Thank you.

  6. Anna Maria Says:

    Perfect list. The poem was so beautiful. I am looking forward to listening to her poem tomorrow.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Me too! It is a VERY bright spot during a VERY difficult time. And I can’t help but love the fact that it’s poetry that brings us this light.

  7. Stacey Shubitz Says:

    #32-#36… YES, YES, YES!

  8. Fran Haley Says:

    Lainie… you’re a prophet, a poet, a priestess…every word of this is spot-on truth. In so many ways, in every way. What a reminder of the human spirit and the calling of teachers to believe in students. The work goes on – let it uplift, all the way. Well-done, friend. <3.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thank you, Fran. It means the world. Hoping that my words resonate with my colleagues and fellow teachers. We carry a LOT on our shoulders.

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