I didn’t sleep last Wednesday. No teacher does the night before school starts. This sleepless night was different than years past. This years’ sleeplessness was fueled by excitement. I was seriously ramped up about going back to our building and reuniting with my colleagues and friends. Underneath the excitement, I held tight to the questions, “What happens when I go back to school? What happens when my colleagues and I get to share a space again?” I wondered my way to the morning and was ready to let the questions lead me.
It was only two days last week. It was only the beginning. Just teachers. No children, yet. But we were beginning together in our shared space. I felt the energy, I heard conversations that reconnected people, some who hadn’t seen each other in almost six months. Other conversations fueled possibility as we began to imagine children among us.
There were many days last spring, in the comfort of my own, home that I felt frustrated and drained. These feelings came on days that were, in many ways, successful. All the kids had shown up to their meets, I felt good about the teaching and learning that was happening virtually, yet the feeling of fulfillment that I’ve come to expect from my work was missing.
On Thursday of last week, walking into the building, mask on, beside Emmy, I was downright giddy. As I made my way down the long hallway to my room, I could feel the smile under my mask. I saw our custodian Al down a ways and couldn’t help by yell “AL!”. I kept walking and turning my head from side to side to see the activity and life in each classroom. Energy was in the air.
As the day went on I heard so many conversations about summer. I heard conversations celebrating being back with excited caution about moving forward. I got to hear about October wedding plans and September due dates. Colleagues shared frustrations about last minute room changes and role changes. There were conversations about plexiglass and nose to nose distance. There were conversations about writing paper and math materials. All these conversations were rebuilding the community that is our school. We were rebuilding relationships, reconnecting with each conversation.
On Friday, my colleague Ashley and I sat at our respective desks and just looked at our room. We sat and stared and began to play out what our three morning sessions might look like and what our three afternoon sessions might look like. We had been given a draft schedule of what our groups might look like given the block schedule. We had to shift our thinking about our space. We had to imagine kids and groups coming in and settling into their own space, not a shared table. As we stared and talked, the ideas grew, the possibilities for comfortable teaching and learning emerged. Our conversation energized me and I began to imagine how our physical space could best support teaching, learning, and children.
Each day we are together is a gift full of opportunity to re-see our teaching and learning. When we are together, our conversations help us imagine what we can do. At times, this gift will be overwhelming, but if we lean on and support each other, there is nothing our community can’t do because we are together.