I have tried to say something meaningful here
dozens of times since I last posted.
All the starts turned into stops to catch my breath.
Every word typed was eventually
deleted because it wasn’t. . .
I just don’t have the words,
but I will try:
I don’t quite have the confidence
to tell other educators what to do
when I myself am traipsing through this unknown terrain,
praying each step I take is safe for the children and me.
I would like to be able to say that I am going before them
like the protective Momma Bear I am inclined to be.
But that is a lie I cannot tell.
The truth is, we’re
lado a lado,
desperately holding onto one another
for protection from the dangers we can
and cannot see.
Separately, the children and I
cannot. bear. the. burdens.
Together, we are a force.
Contrary to what people
who do not work with children
would like you to believe,
my beautiful Brown babies are learning
— a lot.
They were offended when I told them
what the media was reporting.
And though when I ask them what about school brings them joy
they sometimes mention fractions
and social studies,
what they mostly talk about is love.
They love themselves, just as they are.
“I love being a Mexican American.”
They love each other, fiercely.
“I don’t wanna log off. I miss you guys already.”
They love me, with a passion
I don’t deserve.
“I’m so glad you’re feeling better, Ms. J.
You’re the best teacher in the world.”
And they love the world in which they live
enough to want to change it.
“The past and the present are connected.
We should notice how they are.
If we look to the past
and bring what we learn to the present,
we can change.
I want to change.
I want to include people in things.”
We have faced many challenges,
personal and school-related,
together since we were rushed off campus
on March 13, 2020.
And though I know with certainty
we are better readers,
today than then,
what really matters is that we,
all of us,
are more compassionate human beings.
week after week
with the certainty
that our classroom community is. . .
that we are infinitely
better together than we are apart.
Each one of us has a lot to teach
as well as learn.
We know that the ideas of the child
who writes paragraphs at warp speed
are not more valuable
than those of the one who has to
“write in the air”
because they cannot yet
put pencil to paper in
When they ask to speak,
they prove what we already know:
“I wrote thank you to Biden
for wanting to keep my family together.
Trump wanted to send my parents
back to Mexico.”
Palabras give us the gift of expression,
but being an emergent multilingual
does not mean
that your thoughts are not powerful
and your heart is not burdened,
that you do not deserve a place
at the table where we are all somehow
I guess that’s the punto
I have been meandering toward
since the first words I typed and let
I cannot tell you what to do.
I have no magic formula,
no silver bullets.
But I offer this advice to you:
In the midst of all this
do not miss out on the opportunity
to love the tiny humans
on the other side of the screen or plexiglass.
Welcome them with a smile.
Sing with them.
Laugh with them.
Dance with them.
Learn alongside them.
Make a fool of yourself for them.
Humble yourself enough to know
that school is not the only place where children learn.
Their families and communities teach them
the things most essential to their survival.
Many of our children are safer at home
where they can keep their identity
And while I implore you to love them,
do not be confused about what I mean.
Love is not pity.
Love does not always make
hard things easy.
Love makes us take
long, hard looks
and our biases.
Love tears down systemic barriers
Love speaks truth to power
for the sake of our children.
Love finds a way
where there seems to be no way.
Love is a force.
Together, in love, WE are a force.
And though we may stumble,
and even fall,
we must continue to hoist one another up.