It is always such joy to see social media posts of teachers eagerly setting up their classrooms, shiny waxed floors, squeaky clean windows, bright colors all around, welcoming doors with photos of teachers without a mask, and new crayons and pencils set out on tables. I also noticed that classroom libraries are no longer labeled by their benchmark levels but are sorted in enticing categories of enquiry. Many teachers I know have taken opportunities after the pandemic to make career changes, from special education to general education, from one grade level to another, or even from one school district to another.
It won’t be long before the initial feeling of hope, eagerness, and joy settle down. We must get our noses to the grindstone. Going to school every day is hard work. The seasons, from summer to fall, then to winter, begins to turn. Then we start to count to 100 days of school. And then count to the last day of school.
Yet, the joy does not need to stop.
To keep our joy in learning, we refrain from the shouldas, couldas, and wouldas. We refrain from mandating and banning. We refrain from pushing, molding, and teaching. We refrain from scolding and tsk-tsking.
And we refrain from helping.
The shoulds feel like they are arising from a place of love, but is actually from a place of ego, the ego saying I know what is best for you. -Joshua Fields
Our help is usually not very helpful. Our help is often toxic. And help is the sunny side of control. Stop helping so much. Don’t get your help and goodness all over everybody. -Anne Lamott
Instead, how do we delightfully explore, get messy, read and write…a lot…and…listen?
All year long.