back to school (not)

Hey you. Yeah, I see you there, hiding behind your shiny new teacher planner that you bought way too early. I see you flinch when those back-to-school ads come on the television . May I make a confession? I actually physically put my hand up to block one of those ads just the other day. It seemed to cause me physical pain (well, emotional pain. for sure) to cast my eyes upon the excessively cheerful mom and her progeny skipping happily down the aisles of whatever godless super store who thought this timing was a good idea. It was a visceral response on my part. I held my hand there as though it would be enough to stem the flash flood, the inevitable tidal wave that is yet to come. It’s okay, you are not alone.

However, let me lay some truth on you. Believe it or not, we command our own destinies as teachers. We put up the fences that keep crap like this in its’ own lane. We are the ones who can sit plainly on our porches with that second cup of whatever and say no thank you. This is all within our power. We are not obligated to participate in the premature crazy being unleashed. We joke about it, for sure, but the most protective thing we can do with our teacher brains is to Turn. It. Off.  Maybe literally (though I am too lazy for that reaction) but certainly mentally. 

Let me say it louder for the folks in the back. Last year was a literal (and virtual, for some of us) shitshow. I wish I could think up an educationally sound term for it that effectively communicates the experience, but I simply cannot. It was unrelenting stress and chaos, interspersed with moments of meaning and learning.  It was staff meetings where we  talked about anything except the covid elephant in the room: how terrified and stressed out we all were, what a toll this was taking on all of us. and mostly, how sad and exhausted we felt at the end of every day. Teachers are not supposed to admit this, full stop. We are the cheerleaders. Consider this permission to put down your pom-poms for just a hot minute.

If you have managed to carve out a space in this truncated summer, hold onto it like your life depends on it, because it does. Soon enough, we will be back to school with a vengeance. None of us yet knows what that is going to look like, but I am not optimistic. And it is okay to feel whatever about whatever.  Let’s normalize feeling wretched and continuing to show up. Kids need to see this as much as they need to see your colorful growth mindset posters. It is all material, friends. It is all curriculum if you know where to look. I can say with full confidence that it is NOT time to go back to school yet, in body or mind,  So plant yourself firmly on that front porch and sip that beverage of choice and watch the sun go down. You will be glad you did.

2 thoughts on “back to school (not)”

  1. Well written Tess! The summer is too short to heal from last year, but embracing every day will replenish our souls one relaxing sunrise at a time!

  2. Well written Tess! The summer is too short to heal from last year, but embracing every day will replenish our souls one relaxing sunrise at a time!

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