Ever hear this?

We’re going on a bear hunt.

We’re going to catch a big one.

What a beautiful day!

We’re not scared.

Uh-oh!

Grass!

Long, wavy grass!

We can’t go over it.

We can’t go under it.

We’ve got to go through it!

Now here’s my current adaptation:

We’re going back to school.

It’s going to be a big year.

What a scary day!

We’re not prepared.

Uh-oh!

Covid!

Weird, unexpected covid.

We can’t go over it.

We can’t go under it.

We have to go through it.

Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve been thinking about this rhyme I used to teach my Grade 2 ESL students. They loved the gestures, they loved marching around the classroom. It was always a great time.

However, this fall will be different. No primary ESL teachers will be teaching or doing this. How do you maintain 2 meters of social distancing while marching around through imaginary grass or deep cold rivers or thick, oozy mud?

The specter of a second wave of Covid will keep everyone tied to their desks, walking in predetermined corridor pathways and entering and exiting the school at set times – with masks and visors in place, of course.

Parker J. Palmer says in his book, The Courage to Teach (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. USA, 2017, p. 2), “When you love your work that much – and many teachers do – the only way to get out of trouble is to go deeper in. We must enter, not evade, the tangles of teaching so we can understand them better, and negotiate them with more grace, not only to guard our own spirits but also to serve our students well.

If you are reading this, you are probably a teacher. If you are a teacher, you may be working in a school this fall. And if you are working in a school this fall, you’re probably facing the tangles of teaching in a Covid-threatened school environment.   

When you love your work that much – and many teachers do – the only way to get out of trouble is to go deeper in. We must enter, not evade, the tangles of teaching so we can understand them better, and negotiate them with more grace, not only to guard our own spirits but also to serve our students well.

(Parker J. Palmer)

And the only way out of it, is through it. You’re brave, undaunted, and committed. You may feel you are in way over your head, but you are going to march through this school year one second at a time and make a difference. Not only in your own life, but in the lives of countless students, their parents, and your colleagues.

As in Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey narrative, you’re going to take on the monster who is lurking deep in the cave and come out the other side stronger and wiser and victorious.

You are a teacher, heart, brain and gut, which means you have the compassion, creativity and courage you need to guide, support and motivate you along the way.  

When the pandemic broke out, the Graff Foundation created a special ad with three jewels representing hope, love and light. I printed it and kept it near my desk for encouragement during my online classes. I share it with you. 

Three diamonds with with writing. Yellow diamond with Hope, Pink diamond with Love and White diamond with Light
https://www.graff.com/house/2020/hope-love-light/

I leave you with three sentences:

Thank you for braving the wild and being there for the younger generation.

Trust the process: you will make it.

Take care of yourself; only healthy hunters catch the bears! 

I now offer coaching; if you need a cheerleader to keep you going, let’s talk! You can reach me at eslmixologist@gmail.com, or leave me your contact info below in the Comments section. Now more than ever, you’ll need support. Let me know how I can help you out.  

Take care and keep learning! – Love Claire :O)

[Photo Credit: Monika Kozub/Unsplash]

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