I teach in a community where something awful has happened. While I don’t think any of us ever expect such terrible events, the ones that occurred over the last week and that continue to play out have set us off kilter in ways that we are only beginning to acknowledge: the starts at sirens, the feelings of helplessness as we sit awash in the incessant news, the difficulty concentrating…
On Monday, a colleague I don’t know very well was sitting on the wall outside the school. We greeted each other and she hugged me. And I didn’t pull away, significant for me because I tend to shy away from physical contact–I’m just prickly that way. A few minutes later, I think someone grabbed my hand or my shoulder, another colleague, sort of as an acknowledgement that we were both…present, maybe? Here? Together? Yes. The day went like that: people pausing, to say hello, to make eye contact, to linger in spaces where others were making copies, buying coffee, gathering their mail.
Creating spaces to be together. And oftentimes there wasn’t even any discussion of those events; rather, they were more about check-ins and confirmations that we were all here, breathing, being, moving forward, or even standing still, but we were here, there…together.
Many of us are in professional learning communities that are tasked with improving our practice, a goal that is admirable and necessary. This week, though, I think my PLC grew much bigger and took on an additional task for which I’m grateful: my PLC expanded to include many more faculty members I know in passing, have wanted to know but time limited those interactions, have sprinted by their floors but not really stopped.
Until the week when everything stopped for us and we’ve had to think about how to put it together again.
And the spring is terrible, too, because by this point one realizes that the end of the year is coming much faster than imagined and one has to make some difficult decisions about curriculum. I tend to get so caught up in those matters that I lose contact with the colleagues that I don’t see every day, and I’m often distracted while interacting with the ones I do see on the daily.
Not this week. I’ve heard from my former colleagues over email, text, phone, whose first questions are about how I’m doing, what I’m doing to be okay, that they’re thinking about me, that they’re sorry for what happened, that they’re here. I feel their virtual hugs and support, and I lean in to them, understanding that another reason why we teach is that we join a community of others that encourage us, rely on us, need us as much as we need them, and that in times of joy and difficulty, we need to turn to that community for support.
I’m just so grateful, in this moment, for the support.