Posts Tagged ‘politics’

A Teacher’s Guide to Inauguration in 36 Easy Steps

January 19, 2021

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.

On Days After: Picking Up The Pieces

January 7, 2021

There are parts of my job I love beyond belief. Those things get me up every day, remind me why I teach and steel my commitment as an educator.

And there are times like today, where we sit in the aftermath of history in the making. I’ve been here before as an educator.
For the Oklahoma City bombing.
For Columbine.
For 9/11.
For Sandy Hook.
For Parkland.
For George Floyd.

Each and every one of those times, I wrestled with my own fears, my own grief, my own confusion and doubt. And each and every one of those times, I have had to consider how I will get up the next morning, put my game face on, and support my students as they wrestle with the same.

And now.

It’s strange and sad to me that I know how to do this, how to counsel children in times of national grief. I’ve done this time and time and time and time again.

Some kids will not know anything has happened at all. Some kids will be steeped in news and news and news and conversation. I know our words together need to be mindful and supportive of both.

I know my kids will need time and space to sit, both in silence and in conversation. I know that I will start with questions. Sometimes I will have answers I can give in language short and clear and honest. Sometimes I will have to say, “I wish I only knew.”

And then? Sometimes that’s it. Sometimes a conversation of seventeen minutes or two hours is enough to bring us into a healthier space.

Sometimes it takes further action, development, thought, reflection.

Today I asked my fourth-grade students, home in each of their respective Zoom corners, to grab their social studies book and open it to a random historical event. I had kids read the events on the page they selected.

And then I said someday, in ten years or in twenty-five or fifty or one hundred, there will be a kid with a social studies book. And they will hold that book in their hands, just like you are holding this book in your hands. And they will read about the events that happened on January 6, 2021. And you! You are living through this. YOU are living this history. You are a person with a family and thoughts and feelings and hopes, and this history is happening to YOU.

And then I invited them to read, one more time, the historical event in their book. I said friends, as you read I want for you to think about the kid who was a kid when this was all happening. I want you to realize that there were PEOPLE at the time this history, people those events were happening to.

They read. They reflected and shared. As always, they were sincere, honest and insightful.

And I can only hope that each one of them will carry something from today forward, something wise or hopeful or helpful.

And I can also hope I won’t have another opportunity to get better at this.


September 19, 2020
From wikimedia commons. But…the picture that would BEST go with this poem? It’s on the side of a fridge somewhere, or somewhere in a big dusty photo album, or framed by someone’s bedside, or in someone’s wallet, or or or…

As we scroll through our newsfeeds
And text one another
And see post after post after post
And listen to the news
And speak to one another
Of her passing –

As we mourn her presence
In our world, her strength
In the face of adversity, her voice,
Silent –

As we claim her loss
With our own grief –

As we remember
Her work
Her dissent
Her fearlessness –

I can’t help but think
Of the shiva-sitters, her survived-bys:
Her children
Her grandchildren

Gathered together at home,
Sometimes hushed
Sometimes noisy in conversation
Celebrating a woman
Who sometimes kept condiments past their expiration
Who always answered the phone a certain way,
Remembering together
What soap she kept in the guest bathroom
Which living room chair was her favorite
What stories she read them
What kind of hugs she gave
How her hands felt to hold them

I think on them, and I see
Our own grand pain
Our outsized grief and agony
Writ small,
Etched deep.

in memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 1933-2020