Friday, November 25, 2022
Saturday, October 29, 2022
Monday, September 26, 2022
The Power of Community
Sitting at my local community hall, charging my laptop and my phone. Hurricane Fiona came to visit our “gentle” Island this past weekend and left a path of destruction in her wake. No power island wide, save for a small sections. It's not expected to be back on for about a week. We are so lucky to have warming places like this at our disposal, and so grateful to the community members who volunteer their time and efforts to help.
Community halls and centers are the backbone of our society. When the whole world crashes down, they are always open for coffee and tea… for heat… for power…for companionship.
An older gentleman has just come in talking about the state of his yard. “How much you charging to clean up the trees?” He asks the younger man. “You’ve gotta ask my boss!” “I wonder if insurance covers that?” “I don’t know- all I know is, if you need help, give us a call.” Friendly banter with an undercurrent of help.
A man sits with another, reminiscing about a storm that happened in the 50's and how they handled it back then.
A family with an autistic son comes in. He’s wandering around, checking it all out. No one bats an eye.
Another family is feeding their children breakfast. They lost their home, but they still have cornflakes enough for everyone. More kids from other families arrive- smiles and waves to the friends who are meeting up here after a long 48 hours of hurricane and its aftermath. The place is buzzing. People helping people, friends and families together. People are bringing in buckets and jugs to fill with water, left over sweets to share. Milk, coffee, and tea. It does take a village.
We all need each other. Why? Because it’s a community, that’s why.
I often think of these so-called “preppers” who have stockpiles of food and guns and ammo. They won’t last when the fall of society happens, because they are alone. They may live for awhile, but unless they are prepared to work together, they will not last like they assume or hope.
“No man is an island” John Donne once said. And he was correct. We cannot live in isolation. Rugged Individualism only works when you have community support. Don’t believe me? Look into how many pioneer women committed suicide because they were left on their own in the wilderness without support.
It makes me think of the important work we do in schools- building community in our classrooms. I have seen some trying to claim we are "indoctrinating" students with this kind of "CRT"- it just shows how sad their lives are. To think we shouldn't be teaching our students that they are a part of a greater whole. What we do in our classrooms is nothing short of magical. We take a ragtag bunch of kiddos at the beginning of the year- some know some, others know no one- and by the end of it all, we are a family, we are a community.
I am a proud public school teacher. I will always teach my students that our lives are interwoven with each other, with nature, with the greater world around us. And it's times like these, in the midst of disaster, that I see it come to fruition.
Create community in your classroom. Be available to others. Be the change we so desperately need in our culture today.
We are community. We are family.
Saturday, September 17, 2022
Give them time.
Learning is not linear. Learning is a wave, a tide. It goes forward, then back, forward, then back. But each time it goes forward, it goes a bit farther. Each time it goes back, it doesn't go as far. When you stand at the edge of the ocean at low tide, you see where high tide was. The tide line doesn't disappear, it just retreats for a bit. Learning is like that. When we are babies, parents are told, "It may seem as if they lose a skill as they develop a new one. Don't worry, it will come back." Learning is like that.
Give them time.
Thursday, September 15, 2022
Play time in Kindergarten is so complex. In some ways it's straightforward, and others it's an intricate dance between fellow humans learning to navigate in the world. What I have always noticed: It always starts loud. Children jockeying for attention, for position, for a place at the table of play. But after awhile, it settles and shifts. The volume goes down so subtly that you may not even notice it until, suddenly, you realize you can hear your own thoughts again.
Children come to school from so many varied backgrounds. Some of those backgrounds fit neatly into preconceived notions about what childhood should be. Others would break your heart. But at the center of all of them is the Child. And a child is built to play. Play is how we break it all apart and put it all back together.
Every child brings their life experience to the play. The good, the bad, the in between- they all have a place in our play. If you are quiet, observant, able to step back, you will hear the story, see the dance. It takes discipline to not rush in to change it, to quiet it, to take it over. It takes trust to let them lead. However, when we do, we begin to see their spirits shine through. The insecurities melt away when children are allowed to master a skill through play. They begin to see themselves as capable, as independent, as someone who can lead.
They learn to share space with each other, which, in turn, teaches them that there are other perspectives in the world, not just their own. When we allow the play to evolve independently from the bang to a hum, we know that's where the good stuff happens. That's where the noise of play turns into the music of community.
So let them play, let them be loud. Because, and trust me on this, naturally they will soften and quiet. Their will turn the noise into music, the bang into a hum.
Friday, September 2, 2022
It was the night before the last day of kindergarten. I laid out their writing folders, and sorted through all of the stories and the writing. I made note of each student, and how much they wrote. Some wrote a lot, some didn't write very much. Some wrote books, and some wrote notes. Some were neat, making sure every letter was neat and every tree had just enough leaves. Some were messy, so many thoughts to get out, and not enough time to be exact! Some were complete, and some had multiple stories on the go. But, you know what? We all wrote. We all proved we were writers.