As the chief storyteller of my school, I have spent years trying to share the story of the schools I am leading. I feel like it's important for the outside world to see into our classrooms and our hallways. I always want to share the positive things going on in our schools. And there are a lot of positives that make it easy to share. Lots of pictures of smiling kids, teachers working with students, students and staff doing amazing things every day.
But this year I worry that as I try to tell the story of our school, I am presenting more of a fantasy world than the reality that we are living each day. The picture of the teacher working with the small group looks great, but it doesn't show the child having a breakdown 10 minutes before the picture was snapped. The pictures of kids laughing on the playground doesn't show the lunch time behaviors that were happening before they ran outside to play. The pictures of the teachers and staff welcoming students with a smile and a high five in the morning don't show the tears of exhaustion and stress that were wiped away quickly before the doors opened.
Educators and school leaders are putting on a brave face, but this year, the real picture of this year, is not a pretty one. Social media is not showing the reality of what this year is like. More than once, I have said to peers that I feel like this year is worse than last year. How is that possible?! We survived last year. We crawled across the finish line last year. It wasn't supposed to be like this this year. I said to someone that Monday felt like a month. The reality is that people wanted to believe the Facebook phenomenon; we all wanted to believe that being back in school, even with masks, would be better, would be almost back to normal. We wanted the perfectly cropped pictures with the perfectly cropped moments in time. But that's just not reality. There are so many imperfect moments before and after those photoshopped moments.
People who are not living in those in between imperfect moments with us, people who are not educators, do not understand what we are experiencing. And while I am not going to start snapping pictures of teachers' exhausted faces or kids crying or students throwing food or kids falling asleep or adults and kids visiting the nurse because they are anxious and stressed, I am going to try to make sure I am painting those realistic pictures in other ways. We need to share the real story with families and with people making decisions for our schools.
While I always love taking selfies with kids, I avoid taking selfies of myself feeling defeated or discouraged because my job as an educator seems impossible this year. I don't need a selfie to show the bags under my eyes or the added worry lines on my forehead. (Lucky for me, I have brutally honest children in my home who ask why my skin is saggy!) But I can write about the real struggles. I can advocate for support for the real needs of our students and staff. I can acknowledge that I see the real pictures that don't get posted to social media.
This is not going to be an easy year. Not that any year in education is ever easy. But we have a Herculean task in front of us. People expect us to pick up the pieces and recreate the images that were created before we experienced a pandemic. The timelines that we followed before, the curriculum trajectories that we worked our way through, the business of doing school that teachers made look easy. People think those are all able to just be done because we are "back in school." And if we were living in the fantasy social media world of education, they would be doable. But we are not living in that world. We are living in the reality world of education. The ugly picture/bad hair/weird face world. The blurred image world. The pictures that you delete and don't post world.
Educators everywhere. I see you. The real, exhausted, stressed, anxious you. The social media pictures don't tell the full story; they don't even tell a fraction of the story.
I am still enjoying reading Willodeen. Hopefully I will be done with it by Tuesday so I can recommend it to some students at the book fair! I am also diving into the book Shifting the Balance: 6 Ways to Bring the Science of Reading into the Balanced Literacy Classroom. Hoping to have some interesting information to share with K-2 from this book.
Events this week:
Monday - Indigenous People's Day, No School
Tuesday - Book Fair in the library all week
Wednesday - CST Meeting @ 8:15, Flu Shot Clinic at Mountview
Thursday - School Picture Day!
Saturday - PTA playground clean-up/weeding from 8-11, Book Fair open to families from 9-11
Sunday - Book Fair open to families from 2-4
Great things I noticed last week:
- I had fun playing Fishy Fishy Cross the Ocean with 2nd graders.
Check it out:
Check out this post about Play as Healing from Pandemic Trauma.
Our core value this month is kindness. Check it out, you could publish a kindness book with your class for free!