Both Honest and Gentle

Admittedly, I’ve been feeling a little lost in terms of blogging this year. It feels a bit hypocritical to write about what schools ‘should’ be doing during the pandemic (see: capitalise on the opportunity to shirk convention and tradition, and embrace what education could be) when I am on sabbatical and thus a relative outsider on the scene compared to those who are in schools every day, and I felt some guilt associated with not being there. I want to put out there that I think that sort of guilt is dangerous. There’s a militaristic or traditional athletic mindset at play, a willingness to “die for that inch” that—while noble in theory, can in practice lead us into situations where we haven’t taken enough time to care for ourselves to possibly offer our best to others. But I digress: this is about the positive stuff, the opportunity we all have to risk safely and reap the rewards.

We—in CIS Ontario in general, and Cohort21 specifically—are lucky to be part of a community that supports not just its team’s goals, but its individual players. We might not all be super comfortable with blogging, or forsaking our binds to the curriculum, or navigating the complexities of hybrid teaching and learning models, but we are all here because we believe in kids and we believe in education, and while we may offer provocations and constructive criticism to one another, we do so out of love and in support of this shared vision.

So, as @mrand quoted in her beautiful and heart-wrenching blog post, “why wait?” Whether you’re nervous about sharing your first blog post, wondering how to make small changes in your practice, feeling inspired to overthrow the conventional educational model, or curious about a passion the you haven’t yet pursued to its full extent, get out there and give it a shot. Why wait? We are here for one another, and we recognise that that means giving room for each one of us to be here for ourselves. We can be both honest and gentle as we work to bring out the best in ourselves, each other, our students, and education. Our legacies are not in our protocols, roles, or titles, but in our love.

And love’s the greatest thing that we have.


7 Replies to “Both Honest and Gentle”

  1. Thank you @jsheppard for writing this post. I am on a 4/5 year leave this year and from time to time, I feel those very same feelings of guilt because I do not “show up” each day at school. But, I guess the good news is that with a different routine, I can find other ways to show up, to contribute in different ways to various communities that nourish me.
    I love your line “our legacies are not in our protocols, roles, or titles, but in our love.” Isn’t that what our students remember and reference when they come back to visit us? Don’t they tell us how much they loved when we went on a tangent and shared a funny story about ourselves during class or supervised an amazing field trip? The opportunity to build authentic relationships with our students is the reason I think a lot of us show up each day and your blog post shines a light that. @ljensen @mbrims @acampbellrogers

  2. Hi Jess…I can understand where you’re coming from as well. I was on parental leave when everything shut down in March, and there were times I really wanted to jump back into school life. It seemed like there were so many changes happening really quickly and I felt like I was both missing out and that I had so much to offer. My colleagues reassured me that my parental leave couldn’t have come at a better time, but there was still a little part of me that wanted to try out this new teaching-from-home model and support my colleagues and students.

    As of September, I got my wish and am back in school full time. I’m thankful for a great class, thankful for my job, my amazing colleagues, and Cohort21…and reminiscing about the good ol’ days of parental leave!

    1. Thanks, @dneville! It doesn’t surprise me that what I’m feeling is a common, but it’s still reassuring to hear about others’ similar experiences. I’m glad that your return to school is going well so far!

  3. This is me exactly! I am away from teaching for now. I have 3 young kids in school and it is in our families best interest for me to be home and be able to support them (and our extended families). I have had so many different phases of what, who and when. It is really difficult. But as I have realized, you can’t have it all, and as others have mentioned – thank goodness for C21 and the ability to stay in the conversation and provide something to the teachers who are on the frontline. This pandemic has also taught me, you can plan all you want…. finding some peace in that is helpful. Thanks for the great post.

    1. @amacrae right!?! Cohort21 is such a great way to stay in the loop! Also, I love your point about the pandemic teaching us that it can be both necessary and productive to depart from the plan. Hopefully, by having no choice but to adapt during the pandemic, many of us will transfer that adaptability into our future teaching, and embrace the opportunities for authentic discourse and experience that arise outside of our planning. “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / gang aft agley,” no?

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