The list grew and grew, as I sat at my dining room table and jotted down all of the things I thought I needed to let my students know when we met online. One single video meeting took more prep work than I expected, much more that I really needed. It was going to be our first video meeting and I had no idea how many of my students would show up.
Yesterday, our community was placed on “shelter in place” orders, and we went out to make one important visit.
“Stop!” I held my hand up like a stop sign. “You have to stay away… We have to keep our distance,” I clarified. I felt the lump in my throat grow and I swallowed. I carried the blue canvas bag towards the grass, slid it off my left shoulder, and gently placed it on the grass. He stood there the whole time—watching, waiting, and clutching his hands together. It was an uncommon event. We don’t usually greet this way. He was so excited to see me when I stepped out of my car. He ran towards me and I had to stop him. I could see that he probably wanted to hug me.
The other day, I looked outside my kitchen window into my back yard and noticed my tiny crate mertle standing lifeless.
"They're just playing, mom," my son assured me. I disagreed. Birds do not play fight. So, I decided to separate my sweet little birds.
I've had parakeets most of my life. There are a few things I know about them. I know that parakeets enjoy making noise. It would be a better description to say that when they are really happy, they like to scream. They like to talk, when they hear us talk, argue when we argue, and eat, when they see us eat. They're just funny that way. Lately, I noticed the screaming and hollering were a bit different. In these past few weeks, I found myself checking on them during the day, especially when they are outside.
While the world outside seems to be spinning much faster than usual, I took time today to catch up on some missed time with my students and their writing. We meet on our blogging platform. This place where we meet is our digital writing community―one that has become much more important to us than expected these past few days.
Today, I put my worries away for another day and focused my attention on my students and their writing lives. I made my way into our blogging platform, read, commented, questioned, encouraged, and challenged my students. My heart swelled in the process.
My students, who I hope to see again before the school year ends, shared what mattered most to them.
The doors slide open and I walked in. I walked in like I've walked into that building countless times before. This time was different.
Two nurses, fully covered in scrubs that covering every possible body part stood before me. One on my right and another on my left. I was stopped at the door with one long question.
“Have you traveled outside the country, had a cough, been sneezing, had a fever, or have been exposed to anyone with the coronavirus in the past few days?” The nurse on my left asked, behind her plastic shield face mask. It was the new greeting.
Today, I participated in a live webinar lead by Lucy Calkins and it was incredible. The information shared was so overflowing with love and support for students, all I could do to keep up was dive into taking notes as fast as I could. Hearing from such powerful voices think through some of the same difficult conversations many of us teachers have struggled through was moving. There were so many creative and thoughtful ideas shared, it left my heart and mind filled.
The most beautiful thing happened today. One of my students drafted a poem.
We are at a distance. Separated, in the middle of our stay at home period, our indefinite time away from school period, our required time of social distance. Through all of that mess, one sweet student began the work of writing a poem… and it was beautiful
Do you notice when you've reach your breaking point?
I think for most humans, we discover this when it is much too late. Some of us wait to get to a breaking point and by then we can't turn back. Some of us can feel it coming from miles away.