The last few weeks have been insane. I had the usual chaos of report card time. My wife is an early years teacher, with reports due a week after mine. There were the meetings, marking, planning, teaching and normal joyful chaos of our work. We also have two wonderful children, that add so much to our lives, including more joyful chaos in the form of parenting.
And we’re following all that with the lead-in to holidays and winter break, with all that entails.
As I thought about my post this week, I was patting myself on the back for not missing any posts through that busy stretch. Was the wire in sight many times? Of course. The life of a teacher is a busy one, and coming up with another idea, outside of the regular school day is sometimes daunting.
Earlier this week, a cool thing happened, which, as I reflected, inspired this post.
I am a teacher supervisor for our division’s Aboriginal Education group. We do really cool things to learn about First Nations culture and issues. The coordinator is a lovely and passionate woman who gave me an opportunity to run with an activity. We had come across a great campaign aimed at supporting indigenous youth in Canada through the struggle that is the reality for many of them. (WE MATTER if you’re curious.) I thought it might be cool to have our kids watch some of the videos that have been created for the campaign, and then create sketchquotes using material from the video. (Sketchquotes are exactly what they sound like, visual pieces incorporating art and quotes.) I had actually just used the idea in one of my classes, as part of a multigenre project.
As I started doing this piece with kids this week, I was working with kids I didn’t know super well, who weren’t accustomed to me bringing in an idea I saw someone tweet about that I thought might be a fun way to explore or express ideas.
So I had to explain myself.
And I started talking about my heart a lot. I talked about how the videos touched my human heart, my compassion. I talked about how the power of words touched my English teacher’s heart. I talked about how creative work touched my artist’s heart.
And I talked about what I got to do, in that moment, to share ideas with young people, to discuss those ideas with them, to hear what they had to say, to be inspired by them, to help them create, to give them a chance to share their voices, and perhaps inspire or support others… well, that touched all the parts of my heart that exist.
The heart. That’s why we do this thing we do. When we get busy, when we have the stretches of job-related chaos that wear us down, tire us out, push us to the edge, we must remember the heart.
This is so vital to remember in our busiest times. In teaching, this human endeavor we’ve embarked upon, the heart can be forgotten in that crush of responsibility, in the shortness of breath as you make your way into the second half of the semester. Explaining why I wanted us to do what we were doing this brought me back to that. Perhaps I was already thinking of the heart when I sat Monday afternoon in a room with almost all of my favorite high school English teachers I’ve worked with in the past decade, talking about a test our students will all write.
And how we prepare them for that.
And what we want for them.
Where do you find the heart in your work? What are your coping strategies for the busy times?