classroom, health and wellness, live in the now, pandemic, teaching

End of 100%

Sometimes a piece of paper needs to be cut exactly in half and scissors aren’t readily available. There is another method that can potentially get the job done.

The edges of the page can be carefully matched up, corner to corner, in near perfect alignment.

A beautiful crease can then be made right down the middle. The fold is created exactly in the center, and it’s almost as if the line is evidence of some kind of satisfying achievement. The last step before the main event.

Then, the moment arrives. The goal and intention has always been to divide the original in two, knowing that the method is not ideal.

Carefully, with close attention to detail, the tearing apart begins.

That exact nerve wracking moment when the paper fibers initially begin releasing from each other with the hope of creating two equal shares feels very similar to what some teachers and educational professionals have felt while preparing for pandemic hybrid learning.

The pressure has been intense. The expectations all around us and of ourselves has amplified that pressure. We have made decisions that involve everything in terms of halves; half days, half of classes, two cohorts, two platforms for delivering instruction, dividing supplies in half, and dividing our time and attention in half.

Just like the outcome of a piece of torn paper, it’s going to turn out the way it’s going to turn out, no matter how much thought and planning was put into it. Each separate part is NOT going to turn out exactly the same as the other cleanly and the fear of judgement about the final result is real.

The hope is this: Just as some people who may not feel right about wasting perfectly good pieces of paper that have been torn in some way, or are uneven, we can still find value in it before we think of throwing it all out when it’s over.

Some may want to simply forget when this moment in time of crisis teaching and distance/hybrid learning approaches the end.

This is also the same moment to acknowledge everything that has been done behind the scenes to try to make it work, and that many pieces and parts although very different in many ways, are worth holding on to moving forward.

What is going to hold value for us now as we move forward? What are we going to let go of and what will we hold on to?

balance, classroom, health and wellness, mindful

The Questions You May Not Ask

Teaching 4th grade will always hold a special place in my heart. California history, particularly the Gold Rush Era, was one of my favorite units to teach. During the first 5 or so years of my career, my grade level colleagues and I would devote endless hours of coordination, fundraising,  and planning to send our students to a 3 night camp in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Gold Camp. It’s what you did when you got to 4th grade. History was learned. Forever memories were made.

The journey to get there however, was EXHAUSTING. Every year, through tireless fundraising efforts, we scraped together enough money to finance transportation for the 2 hour drive up to Sonora, California. What was the mode of transportation? The big blue school bus that could. It wasn’t the most updated vehicle. I remember feeling the engine straining as we traveled up the winding mountain roads (with million dollar views, mind you), while the kiddos with motion sick tummies expelled their queasiness into gallon Ziploc bags. I remember feeling so “done” with the trip even before we got off the bus.

All of the stress and exhaustion always took a dramatic turn for the better when we unloaded the bus, stood on solid ground, and inhaled the crisp mountain air. Things continued to improve when the camp staff and parent chaperones took charge of the program and activities. The teachers could get back to their regularly scheduled breathing.

gold camp
Teacher BFFs 9 years ago. Stuck on the big blue bus.

The ground rules were set, including the most important one. Our fearless camp leader made it known right away.  

“There will be NO What are we gonna…? or When are we gonna?… questions. Ever. Don’t even try to re-frame your questions to not sound like those kinds of questions.”

Best educational rule ever. I sometimes forget how powerful and simple the concept is. Let people (and little ones) enjoy their time as it happens. A schedule is set in place as a guide, but it is not meant to be a spoiler.

I too, followed the advice over the duration of camp and I was able to enjoy it so much more. I learned something new along with the kids every year. The scenery kept my calm levels in check even though I was in the midst of the most stressful field trip of the year. I will never forget the amazing sights and sounds, even during the muddy and rainy years. Nelson’s Columbia Candy Kitchen? YES. Keep in mind though, another ground rule was to not buy the baseball sized jawbreakers as your Gold Camp souvenir. The vistas and feeling of accomplishment after the ditch hike will be a forever memory in mental teacher file. Columbia State Park Cemetery walk? My favorite.

Maintaining the delicate balance of anticipation of what’s to come, and suffering over what you can’t control is a hard thing to do. I struggle with it all the time, through milestones and small moments. Then I remember Gold Country. I remember living in the now, even back then, because that was all I could do in the moment. 

I’ll remember this happy place as a fun, yet stressful memory in my career. I’ll also remember that sometimes I can’t allow myself to ask, “What are we gonna?….” or “When are we gonna?”.

I’ll find out. Everyone will.

Until then…

Maybe I’ll plan a family trip up to The Queen of The Southern Mines sometime soon.


 

http://www.sonoraca.com/

 

https://www.columbiacandykitchen.com/

 

https://www.visitcalifornia.com/attraction/columbia-state-historic-park

 

https://www.gocalaveras.com/location/california/gold-country/murphys-california/