Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Our not-first day

Tuesdays at TWT!
Yesterday was our not-first day. Sweetie's first day of kindergarten in the district I attended K-12 and have taught 13 years in. My colleagues' first day with students. And, although staff worked a week last week, my first day of realizing that my year of unpaid leave is really real. 

After working energetically all summer to hone my digital teaching skills and antiracist strategies, I won't be implementing them this year. No lessons, no classes, no students. 

Because our district's choice to start remotely for two weeks and then move to hybrid learning is not enough for me. I love to teach, and I so badly wanted to find a way to do it this year, but when I held up every scenario to if it would be worth it if my precious girls (especially Sweetie's preemie sister) got sick, it was absolutely not. So Sweetie is attending remote kindergarten for at least the semester (a choice for families but not teachers), and we will all continue to be safe at home, minus the job I love but with our health.

So yesterday, I set up Sweetie's remote work space, not a classroom. 
I talked and played with her and her little sis, not students.
I drove to her school, not mine.
We took pictures outside her school's front doors, but then we went home, not in.
We picked up special curbside takeout meals to eat at home, not at restaurants.
She opened her Chromebook, not a classroom door.
She waved, talked, sang, listened to a story, and raised her hand in Google Meet, not on a rug.
She gave her teacher a virtual hug at the end of class, not a real one.
And after the girls were asleep, I was relaxing and going to sleep early, not planning lessons, creating activities, or communicating with students or families.

But she still giggled, squealed, bounced, and beamed.
I still thought of my colleagues and students (and observed Sweetie's lessons with my teacher-brain ON, not judging but learning and wondering how I can use my skills to support her growth).
We still talked about our day, and it really was lovely that our favorite moments were all shared.

She is still a kindergartener, 2020-style.
I am still a teacher-mom, doing whatever it takes. It just takes something different this year.

And she played with her little sister more than she would have if she had gone to school. We caught a katydid and she brought it to her Meet in our bug house. We had extra snuggles, and I had time to give her an Elsa braid. 

And even though some things were missing, and many things were not as we'd planned, it was a wonderful day, not a hard one. We were excited and satisfied, not disappointed. Our hearts were full of all the ways our day was special, not the ways it was different than it should have been. And we are safe and secure, not at risk or anxious. And while I recognize this is an extremely privileged choice we were able to make, we are also helping our community by doing our part to stop, not spread, the virus.

And the peace in my heart tells me that this is right. 
For us, for this year.

I'm enticed by the possibility of more beautiful, precious, unexpected nots awaiting us.


  1. So many “nots” in our world these days. This is my second not first day of school after retiring a year ago, but somehow this year feels like a bigger not. That said, your girls will thrive so much more with you at home protecting them. And even w/ all the nots, your post is full of hope and love.

  2. I am sure that was a difficult decision but it sounds like it was made thoughtfully and carefully. I had a preemie, too, and it will be so good for her to have a sibling at home. All the best in this crazy 2020!

  3. You have a wonderful attitude and you will probably have more time for special moments with your girls this year. It may actually be a blessing in disguise. I can already see that Marisol enjoys learning and will have a great year no matter how she is learning!

  4. Beautiful post. I love how you are embracing the good in the situation. I am sure there is sadness to be away from teaching for the year, but I bet you will continue learning and your girls are so lucky you will be with them all the way.

  5. I’ve missed a lot... YOU HAD ANOTHER BABY?!!? Please email me and fill me in.

    We will be on this path together this year. It will be okay, for all of us.

  6. Jennifer,
    I think we all have to make the choices that work best for us and our families. My son is starting HS online and I'm still waiting to hear if I will be teaching remotely. School for kids in our board starts f2f on Tuesday, 9/1. I sure hope I know what's going on before then...Have a great year. It will all be worth it in the end.

  7. Wishing Sweetie (and all of you) a good school year. I think your positivity will keep you finding small moments of joy.


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