Done #SOL21 25/31

I might be done. I am definitely done for today. I’ve already cried & I think I will just go take a bath and go to sleep. It’s not even 7pm.

The school board just took away our last day of classes for this quarter – which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is because each class is four hours long plus (supposedly) an hour at home, and we only had five classes left. So now we only have four classes left which means we’ve lost four or five *hours* of learning – the equivalent of nearly a week! – and, as it turns out, I can’t squeeze all our plans in without that day.

It means that I will only see the students I saw today, cohort A, two more times. Ever. That’s it.
It means that even though they class (minus two students) *asked* for Hamlet, I can’t fit it in. Which means that I will have to spend my weekend and/or next week replanning the final week, which is now only three days.

I’ve already cut so much. We’ve already lost so much. I am trying to bring joy to the classroom – I really am. Even in the middle of chaos, I am trying to teach the kids the joy of exploration, of risk-taking, of the kind of learning that allows for failure and success. I want my classes to feel compelling and important and personal. And, honestly, even in the pandemic, even in this truly crazy school schedule, most days I think I’m managing or at least coming close. But that kind of teaching doesn’t just happen. I have worked a LOT and now I’m losing four precious hours with them.

I only just learned their names.

In all of March I haven’t even written about my students because I’ve only just started to know them. This is a real loss because they are magnificent, these students: passionate, daring, creative, curious, funny. They wanted to write essays and study Hamlet (minus those two kids – but we need those two, too) and they so desperately want to learn something real, something important. For this whole year I will only see any of them 12 times because the year is a quadmester and the quadmester is every other day, every other week. And now we’ve lost a whole day together.

And I get it, I really do. The school board is trying to help students feel less overwhelmed. Everyone is doing their best. But they keep forgetting that teachers plan and dream and hope. They keep forgetting that every hour with my students is another hour to build a relationship, to remind these people who are on the cusp of adulthood that they are allowed to join the world of intellectual discourse and that even in a pandemic – especially in a pandemic – their voices matter.

So today I’m done. I can’t take anymore today. A bath and a good night’s sleep will help.

And if we can’t do Hamlet, we can do poetry. I bet some Mary Oliver will be balm for their souls. And Jericho Brown will call them into being. And maybe Adrienne Rich and – yes! – Naomi Shibab Nye. Maybe we’ll talk about Chen Chen.

It appears that I have written my way to something new – and maybe my students will, too. But the bathtub calls. Here, read this and we’ll all feel better: Kindness by Naomi Shibab Nye

You didn’t click, did you? No worries – I’ll just give you the final stanza; then you’ll want more:

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

15 thoughts on “Done #SOL21 25/31

  1. Ugh. I feel your sorrow, your sadness, your loss, your heart. I really do. I’m so sorry. It’s all too much, isn’t it. But you do not have to dump Hamlet. You can teach it w/ film, w/ the 30 Minute Shakespeare cutting, w/ the Folger two-week plans. Pick the parts you love, the parts that will make the kids want more. Throw in those poets you name. I’ll gladly hunt for poems relevant to Hamlet if you don’t have time for the search. Let me know. Sending peace and comfort.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Amanda:
    Oh, sweet one. You are working so hard to make this freaking gong show mean something to your kids. As the parent of a Grade 12, I send you all my honour and respect. Thank you for the poetry. Yes, poems. That will be April for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Was the clicking a link thing a trap? Amanda – I feel your pain… I’m living your pain too… thank you for so clearly articulating what was a bitmoji of rage for me. No words.
    Peace my sister!

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  4. I’m going to go back and read the poem. Promise. I think this post speaks to your passion and commitment, to so many teachers’ passion and commitment. We care about these kids and have put our all into making this crazy year work. I feel your pain.

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  5. I’m so sorry. You’ve put in so much work and heart and you’re losing valuable time. It’s a loss for you and your students. I’m sorry.

    And I chuckled at “you didn’t click on it did you” because I didn’t! 😬😆

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  6. Do the poetry: Read Small Kindnesses by Danusha Lameris, too. And listen to the podcast with Naomi and Danusha. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/podcasts/155694/naomi-shihab-nye-and-danusha-lameris-in-conversation
    And enjoy what little time you have to place inspiration for language into their hearts. They will want more. Leave them wanting more, more, more, because the only way these Covid kids are going to make it is if they speak up for themselves and demand to know more. There, getting off my high horse now.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so sorry this has happened. I can’t wait for this tumultuous year to end. I need all the uncertainty and uneasiness and surprises to stop.

    Have you ever done “novel in an hour”? I’m wondering if you can use this technique to do Hamlet in 4 hours. Can you believe I’ve never read that play? It wasn’t on The List at my high school.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a hard blow this new is, so close to the end. I’m so sorry! Thank you for sharing the final stanza of the Kindness poem (as I couldn’t get the link to open). Beautiful!

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  9. This just made me cry. For you. For them. For this poem you shared. I hope you did what you could to take care of your heart tonight. xo

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  10. This is not a way to really teach and maybe you can do both – some poetry and Hamlet? One is in the other and they can choose – watch the movie and then come to class to discuss a soliloquy? Find poems on themes from diverse voices, other languages, and share. I know how hard you work and always make it work for them. Don’t lose yourself along the way, my friend ❤️

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  11. This. This is what angers me when non-educators, heck, the general populace sometimes, don’t get just how much of ourselves we invest in our teaching, our relationships with students. Did they bother to ask what the teachers and students wanted? I am *just* the librarian, yet I’ve had kids hang on in a Google Meet after the school day was through, just to talk. …I hope the bath and a good night’s rest helped.

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