The latest crisis within a crisis is the issue of whether or not school should resume in-person in August. Here in Florida the decision has been made that students will be returning with, in certain counties, the option to work virtually from home. When I wrote back in March that I felt the remainder of the year should be waived given that effective learning really couldn't occur in the shock of an unprecedented crisis, never in my wildest dreams (nightmares?) did I think we'd still be facing this--at this level--come August. At the time there were murmurings that we would likely be in this spot, but, probably like many others, I couldn't let my mind go there.
Well, here we are.
Unlike what it seems many people do, I won't write this with the intention of giving you my stance or strong opinion on what I believe you (or school districts or government officials) should do. (I know the last thing I need right now is another friggin' opinion.)
I also seem to be in the minority of Americans who acknowledge that
1-I'm not a trained medical professional or virologist,
2-I'm not a staunch Republican or die-hard Democrat who claims to have "The Answer" to this crisis,
3-I believe the truth in the statistics, data, and news probably lies somewhere in the middle.
So I don't have an answer for you, as I don't even have an answer for us yet. What I will offer is the only thing I can--my perspective on the whole thing and where I personally turn when it comes to making any tough decision (spoiler alert: it's not CNN or FOX).
After nearly 15 years in education, I tend to see things through the lens of how it impacts children or, I guess more accurately, I see things through their eyes--what they must be thinking and feeling. I see things through the lens of what we are modeling for them.
Five weeks ago when I heard the story of Ahmaud Arbery being gunned down while jogging, I felt sick to my stomach that a life was lost so senselessly. When I heard of the equally senseless murder of George Floyd only four weeks later and that, in his last desperate moments, he called out for his mama, I cried. As a mother myself it took my own breath away and made me physically sick to my stomach. I believe black lives absolutely do matter. And while I of course also believe that all human lives matter, the reason we choose the words “black lives matter” at this time is to put the focus and support on the black lives that, lately, seem to very clearly not matter to some--not all--who are white.
I looked at what happened to Mr. Arbery and Mr. Floyd and thought of our kids and what they must be thinking and feeling; about what we’re modeling.
And, while the anger and frustration over not being heard is understandable, I looked at the riots and looting going on and once again thought of our kids and what they must be thinking and feeling; about what we’re modeling.
I saw and heard some of the things being said about law enforcement and thought of our kids; about how confusing it must be to try and make sense as to whether police officers are there to help them or hurt them.
Yesterday I didn’t log on to social media until 7pm and saw the #blackouttuesday movement that was happening. I thought about what a powerful, united statement it seemed, but I also like to take a minute to research anything before I jump into posting, just to be sure that the message and intention behind it is something that aligns. As I researched, I saw that there were people within groups and pages I am a part of saying things like “if you don’t participate in this, you are making a statement that you don’t believe black lives matter” or that if we say anything at all on the topic as a white person, we are undermining the message. Once again, I thought of what we’re modeling for our children. We say we want to teach them not to make judgments and assumptions about people before getting to know them; to not incite peer pressure or bully others and to be inclusive, yet…some of our actions spoke differently.
I feel so lucky to have grown up rich,
to have grown up privileged--
never having had to do without.
Our family was so rich in love & laughter that, despite what I can now look back and see as a modest upbringing & tight income, it never occurred to me we were lacking anything.
I was so privileged to be raised in a home where we were the priorities--
I never once scanned the classroom or audience wondering if mom or dad would be there,
I never once went without the school clothes or the dance lessons, although I can now look back and see that my parents went without quite a bit for themselves.
I'm not a very reactive person, at least not quickly. I tend to hang back, collect information, and take time to process before responding--especially in times of stress. So, here I am now, nearly three weeks into this new way of life--this new way of teaching--just now responding.
And my opinion probably won't be the popular one. But it's my truest one.
If we’re not returning May 1, the powers that be just need to declare the school year done. Over. No more virtual learning. Not because I'm a lazy employee. Not because I don't care about the education of our kids. But rather because I care--about our kids, our families, our teachers, and the integrity of what we're calling education
When did it become "mean" or "bad" to enforce rules, limits, boundaries, or consequences of any kind? When did setting restrictions become synonymous with lacking empathy?
I suppose some would say I'm pretty liberal when it comes to discipline with kids in the sense that I see misbehavior not as something to squash, but as a call for help--a plea for the adults in their life to dig deeper and give them the tools they need. They don't know what they don't know, so a child's behavior is the language they speak when they can't articulate their needs. I suppose this is true with adults, too. However, pain or ignorance is not a free pass--personal responsibility plays a role
I was grabbing a smoothie one morning when a familiar face walked into the store, a former coworker of mine from public school. We greeted each other and she asked where I was currently teaching. I told her I had recently taken a position at a private Montessori school. Her mouth formed into a pained expression and she leaned in close, “ooh, how is that? Ya know, working with those kinda kids?”
My heart started to race & the Mama Bear in me started to stir. Because I knew exactly what she meant by that question--I got different forms of it all the time. The implication behind the questions is usually that they are incapable of doing things on their own or are entitled.
I’d been through this before so I took a deep breath to tame the bear and calmly told her the truth. “Honestly... ‘those kids’ are no different than the kids I taught in public school. Some are entitled, others are not. Some are gifted, others have significant learning disabilities. Some come from wealthy families, some don’t. We have a mix of different kids, just like anywhere else.”
I'm Krissy & I'm so thankful you're here. Being a woman, a wife, a mother--it's all rewarding but also tough. I hope this is a place you can go that feels like caffeine for the soul. Check out the categories below and, if you like what you read, subscribe to make sure you always have good Sunday morning reading to go with your coffee :)