Leadership, Teamwork, Wellness

Just ask…

After a hiatus where I felt overwhelmed by a new job, 2020, and somehow uninspired, I am relaunching Authentic Teaching. Authentic Teaching began as a way to share my thoughts, experiences, recipes (yep, recipes…odd combo, I know), and advice. With all of the chaos of our world in 2020 and with personally moving in a new direction, I found I didn’t know what I wanted to say anymore. I wasn’t sure what my voice was anymore. So, I took some time to figure out what I wanted to say.

Shortly before the Inauguration, I had seen a CBS News piece about Amanda Gorman, Youth Poet Laureate and her poem “The Miracle of Morning”. I was so inspired by her words encouraging us to look for the beauty around us that I created a set of lessons in Nearpod called “Gratitude in Poetry” for my students on their first week back. I am providing a free download for you of this set of lessons. Then, she performed her breathtaking poem, The Hill We Climb, at the Inauguration and it reminded me of what this blog is about for me “There is light only if we are brave enough to see it, if only we are brave enough to be it”. Years ago, I read a book by Robert Fulghum and found within it a story that set my intention for my life. The story describes a man describing the meaning of life as reflecting light into the darkest corners of the world. Reflecting the light of a higher power or of basic human kindness is my calling, my voice, my purpose.

As these thoughts were circling through my brain, my 50th Birthday happened! I had low expectations because it was on a Tuesday, in the middle of a global pandemic. The showering of love, kindness, and pure joy my friends and family covered me in took my breath away. They reflected the light back to me and made me realize that flawed, and damaged as I am – I have reflected light in their lives even when I didn’t know it.

So, that led me to my first post back in awhile – to reflect some light. Here it goes:

Educators, the end of the school year and the start of this one, have been unbelievable. We have been celebrated, demonized, loved, and dismissed. We have had to do what educators do in the worst of times – figure it out! We have leaned on each other, cried, and picked the pieces back up to try again tomorrow.

With all the noise around us about whether school should resume in person and if so, how…one thought keeps going through my mind. As I read the nasty comments on social media; see my friends cry at the fear and reality of what is being asked of us; and listen to politicians, the CDC, and TV pundits debate what should happen, I kept thinking one thought….

Just ask.

Just ask us what we need to keep working miracles. Just ask us what we need to feel safe in our buildings. Just ask us what we want from our communities, our school boards, our parents.

Just ask us.

More than anything, I think educators feel like this pandemic has ripped off a bandaid and shared some dirty secrets about education in America. Teachers are viewed as child care providers. Teachers are disposable and replaceable. Teachers are not human trying to survive this pandemic like everybody else. When I hear educators are being demonized for being “seen” at Target or the grocery store as proof they are not as scared as they claim to be, it makes me weep.

We, the teachers, support staff, and administrators that every day serve America’s children, have watched for years as funding is cut, laws are shifted, and respect is diminished. The Pandemic, just made us realize how very tragic and serious it had become.

So, here is my attempt to reflect some light into this darkness.

Just ask.

Ask us and I promise you we are reasonable, willing, and able to find a solution.

If there is anything that 2020 taught us, it is that we have stopped listening to each other. We have stopped asking each other what we need. We have stopped CARING about what each person needs. This lack of care nearly ripped this country in two and then, a young girl said “There is light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.”

So, after reading this, take a deep breath and remind yourself to look for the light and to be the light. Then, look around you and try to figure out what the people you interact with might need to make their world, and ours better.

Just. Ask.

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