Pivoting in a Pandemic

The past gives you an identity and the future holds the promise of salvation, of fulfillment in whatever form.  Both are illusions. 

~ Eckhard Tolle

I recently read a tweet that described this moment as a “perpetual present”, one where we cannot rely on the patterns of the past or the hopes of the future.  We are trapped in a constantly evolving now.  There are some upsides to this for sure – more presence, more gratitude, more appreciation for the mundane.  Meanwhile we have families, careers, and lives to care for and we must make important decisions with only the information we currently have.  And that is really hard. 

It is no longer a secret that I will be at a new school this year. And yes, I was at a new school last year too. The part of the story that is mine to tell is I was building a sandcastle – a pretty elaborate one. I knew that at any moment the sea could rise and overtake it. I wasn’t building it with any assurances of permanence. It was a risk, but I hoped it would stand for a while. Maybe a few tourists would come through and take pictures. Maybe some other kids would add shells. But a yacht named COVID sailed past and increased the swell unexpectedly. The waves were too high, so I grabbed my sand toys and ran. Then someone pointed at a surfboard. That seemed like a safer activity, so here I am, paddling out. At the beginning of the summer, I didn’t know things would end like this. I have been surprised by my own life. When faced with a choice to teach virtually or in person, our family decided we wanted to stay home together. All other decisions became based on that one.

I want to share this video that was posted by Whittle School & Studios before I announced my departure. 

The teacher in this video has never been so clear about her focus, pedagogy, and purpose.  My year at Whittle gave me that.  It was a great gift.  I am STILL filled with so much pride and gratitude.  I grew immensely and had a lot of fun. I taught what really mattered and provided an education FOR THIS MOMENT.  I met wonderful teachers, parents, and families. It was a hard and glorious year.  I am sad that experience is over. 

At the same time, I am thrilled about the opportunity before me. Maret School has long been on my radar.  I love that Joy is a part of their mission. Several students of mine left my previous school and went on to thrive at Maret.  It was always a bit curious that so few jobs opened, but it meant people rarely left. So far I have been impressed.  It is becoming clear why I have been placed in this particular community at this particular time.  I love that my first professional development activity was a weeklong mandatory workshop on anti-racist teaching. It is highly ideal to have such a training in place during this particular moment in the fight for racial justice. They have the format down and the result was an extremely meaningful series of conversations.  I really appreciated being asked to reflect on WHO I want to be in this school space before thinking about WHAT I do.  Putting my humanity first is a great model of how to approach relationship building with students. 

The greatest lesson of this experience is to continue nurturing the resilience of my career. I am entering my 15th year of teaching. I am by all accounts, a veteran. I didn’t get this far carelessly – my moves have been intentional and divinely directed. It has paid to stay nimble. There is a fine line between committing to a community and either being a martyr or getting too comfortable. Life is weird sometimes and the only constant is change. One must always be prepared to pivot. Even in a pandemic. “Stay ready and you don’t have to get ready.” This past month has been a whirlwind.

Onward.

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