Today hit different than the days before.
Why? Well, last week was spring break in my district. I planned to travel, wake up late, and leisurely drink my coffee. I needed the break! But today, today I expected to have twenty-five little stories to catch up on as they streamed into my classroom. Twenty-five hugs and giggles. Twenty-five precious and excited children to ease back into our daily routines and rhythms in room 126. When my calendar alert went off to turn in attendance, I expected to be scanning a classroom to double check my roster before hitting submit, but instead I completely ignored the alert while in my pajamas still in bed.
Last week as we all slowly started to scratch things off of the calendar, it all felt weird and strange. When I got the phone call canceling school until at least April 3rd, it felt eerie. When the email came saying the building would no longer be open past Tuesday and “Under no circumstance will any living thing be allowed to enter the building. Gather everything you need on Tuesday” a weird sense of fog settled on me. As I frantically gathered materials to maybe create content from home, I wondered what the future held. Everything moved with an unnatural and surreal pace.
But today as I stood scrambling eggs in my kitchen at 9:12 it got real. On a Monday by 9:12, I usually have been at work for about two and half hours with my amazing team of teachers and staff. If this had been the Monday I planned it to be by 9:12, we would have welcomed children, fed them breakfast, cleaned up breakfast, had a class meeting, caught up with everyone on how their spring break went, and given a whole group lesson. Today’s lesson was supposed to be introducing the Mesozoic Era and we were all very excited. We would have started our independent work cycle as the classroom hummed with children working collaboratively and independently. I would have started giving lessons about 9:00. This morning about this time I would have been gathering my students who were ready to do some more intense multiplying and a group ready to take off in dynamic addition. But none of that happened today.
Do not read this as a pity party, I am eternally grateful for the very difficult decisions being made around our city, state, country and world. I know that this decision was not taken lightly. Canceling school is the correct thing to do. This is a pandemic, and we have to collectively be inconvenienced to protect each other. Emphasis on the collectively – the rules apply to all of us.
Amidst mobilizing ways to teach online, how to support families that may not have internet access, coordinating ways to keep in touch with families, nightly read alouds for students and all of the other things teachers are doing across our nation and world to continue to support our communities – teachers we can’t forget about ourselves.
Today, I am pushing pause on the organizing while social distancing. I am giving myself the space to grieve the unknown today. I am giving myself the time to be bummed that I won’t be presenting the really cool lessons I planned the way I planned to present them. It may seem dramatic, but this is unprecedented for the majority of us. I am not wallowing, but just giving myself the space to adjust. In this time we will all need to find healthy space.
But as I sit in the reality that I am at home instead of at school with my colleagues and students, I know we will get through this. It will be hard. I will spend a lot of time wondering if that family is getting the resources they need. If that student is getting along with their siblings. I will pray all of my students are safe and healthy. I will worry (and pray) for the older caregivers of some of my students are healthy.
But within the uncertainty my hope is that we are reminded of our connectedness. We truly need each other. This is a time where we can come together and advocate for each other by stepping up (and staying inside). The stories of humanity filling my timelines remind me of how we can love each other well. You do not have to go and do something that gets noticed to love others well in this time. Loving your neighbor (from afar) will probably go unnoticed, but do it anyway. If we collectively work together I believe we can soon get back to spilt milk cartons on the floor at 7:26 am and hearing kid jokes that make no sense. And let me tell you, I have never wanted that sense of normalcy more than today.
So wash your hands, stay at home (if you can), take only what you need at the store avoiding WIC and SNAP products, video chat and message old friends, write letters, exercise, and find peace in the midst of the slow boil of news and quickly changing data. Find the balance in being informed and overloaded. Do something that brings you joy. Soon, we will get through this and hopefully be better because of what we learn about each other and our world. But we are officially in this together, so follow the guidelines so we truly protect each other.
“We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us,
even as we put our hope in you.”
[But still stay inside, follow the rules, and wash your hands.]