Irresistible #renewal

Renewal, for me, is #return, a bold necessity in all facets of life. I am a proud #unionist and public school educator, attending National Education Association Representative Assembly. As a member of the largest labor union in the United States, this is my first opportunity to be immersed (from the safety of my home) at the national level. I am able to listen to all the debate, share my voice and experiences, and vote on policies that seek to address the many, multifaceted challenges in public education (and greater society) today. There are voices here from at ALL levels of #publiceducation even amidst continuing gun violence in Chicago.

Today, I am no longer in survival mode as the pandemic goes into its 3rd year. I am learning to become an armed educator with a whole new set of skills (and self-care tools). I am NOT, however, nor do I wish to be armed with a gun. I would be understating to say my classroom and my community has been touched by ALL of the issues presented in the first half of Day 2. These eighteen years as an educator have been marked with gun violence and its aftermath: from the tragedy at Pulse in my childhood and adult neighborhood to the unannounced weapons search in a small, sleepy, masked first period during the height of a hybrid (face-to-face and virtual classroom) to the myriads of lockdown drills , as well as teaching Civics on January 6th, to being verbally assaulted by chants of “baby-killer” because masks were mandated across my district (the 9th largest in the United States). My classroom has been affected by #censorship and grass-root movements to shut down learning. I have been called names, been targeted, and threatened. So, too, would I be understating the impact these challenges have had my health. Not only have I sought other employment in another field, I lost my passion and energy for this good work.

And #goodwork it is. I told myself this through the challenges of the past few years, which were exponentially intensified and personalized in #publicschool unfriendly Florida and its convoluted, ill-conceived evaluation system and unsustainable practices. I did not know that I was in need for renewal, but here I am being renewed. And with this renewal, comes commitment. I am renewed by the #democraticprocess here, and the passion of my Brothers and Sisters. And it has been a much needed change from the constant onslaught of the new American nattering nabobs of negativitism.

Irresistible Day

Dæg byþ drihtnes sond, deore mannum,

mære metodes leoht, myrgþ and tohiht

eadgum and earmum, eallum brice.

The Anglo-Saxon Rune poem

We are almost 16 weeks into this 2020 edition of a Covid school year; school is still more about adrenaline than passion. As drive myself through adrenal fatigue and increasing #pain cycles, there is still much comfort in seeing students participate in all the various forms. There is routine in examining the old texts, seeds of our Constitution, and discussing fresh perspectives of Enlightenment. Inequities present themselves, easily imagined as we live the reality of our ancestors. Rich and poor, the work of school is useful to all.

Self-management hangs heavily in a synchronous learning environment, from discussions of leaving something on the stove (when working from home) to managing the impossibilities of impromptu Internet glitches and patches while all at once some magic learning happens. In any case, there’s hardly a time to pause unless we make time for this release. And, just like physical pain, mental anguish and stress takes a toll. Were our forefathers (and foremothers) not the same in their dreams, fears, and internal dialogues? Did they take a moment to seize an opportunity for gratitude (the mindfulness strategy today)? Did they trace the Night’s path across their backyard sky, or take a nap in the emerging sunlight on a cool day, or savor a hot cup of tea in quiet contemplation, and find hope there?

Of late, without much ease in movement, I find myself processing the words, words, words, in a such way I never anticipated in my half-century. Could the younger me have envisioned a day I wouldn’t remember vocabulary or concepts or need the constant reminder of my stumbling and bumbling access to the more common areas of my brain? Likewise, did I intellectualize the day I couldn’t lift the weight of the world and a barbell locked and loaded to squat beneath or push overhead?

School becomes a challenge, tripping over the next item to do, procrastinating the great and honorable task of grading (and grade-entering to create irresistible mixed-media digital content); however much I love to craft a lesson, the sheer amount of energy to make any decision has taken flight to darker realms, suspended.

Survival depends on Day and Night, a marriage of predictable opposition. I am held by spaces between polarities, and Day’s quiet appearance transforms Night’s #abundance into actionable steps toward the future. And while little of life outside of school setting presents itself in the traditional way, each Day has offered fresh #perspectives. Brought into a classroom, our community is light of hope itself–we will survive. Rich and poor, the perspective of familiar cycles is Hope.