I dropped into her classroom on the off chance that she might be free. It was the last block of the day. I stepped inside the doorway and the room was alive with calm and purposeful activity. 5th grade. Some kids at tables, one on the carpet, a few clustered around their teacher whom I had to actually find as I looked around. Music played – instrumental: slow but not sad, relaxing but not sedating.
Look at these kids! There’s H stepping back to study her sculpture with a critical eye. O. and N. are already onto the painting phases chatting across the room about the challenges of getting to the hard to reach places. Of the students seeking advice from their teacher, I notice one of my quietest students waiting patiently to pose her question. And when it’s her turn, she looks the teacher in the eye in a way that surprises me – it is so direct and full of trust. I am taken aback at how emotional I become.
Look at these kids. I think I have most of them in PE or had them last year. They are familiar to me but not the way they are now – immersed in their creative pursuits. Some of them wear headphones (noise cancelling, perhaps) and no one seems off-task, bored or idle. They are creating wire sculptures, anchored in a wooden block. Once the wire shapes are fixed, these are covered with nylon stocking pieces which are then painted. I salute their engagement, their sense of progress, their joy in creating.
That’s when the tears well up and I need to leave again. This is what we will lose. This is what we will miss. This is the miracle of every day at school in one way or another. It matters that we can gather and be and do and learn together. I know it’s for a month; this too shall pass but I also hope we can acknowledge loss and make space for grief in this sudden process.
Never miss the water ’til it’s gone.