Amity: Tribe Tuesday

If I were living in the post-apocalyptic dystopian Chicago in the Divergent books, I would be Amity. And if I wasn’t Amity already, I would join Amity. Ok, truly, I would be divergent because I’m a soul of many talents and interests and there’s no way I’d have aptitude for only one faction.

But Amity would show up as my most significant trait for sure. I know this about my self from my toes up to my head. I’m a Virgo. I’m Inanna. I’m the Year of the Dog. I’m everything earth and growth and the suit of Pentacles. I’m the thinker Hermit, the one that takes it all in and makes a sound choice based on community.

Today I went to my 2nd official day of work as a BPS employee, and we gathered in an ARENA to have the district back to school all-staff rah rah session. Absolutely every moment of the whole thing made me feel even more cemented into feeling like Billings was the best possible place for me to go. I’ve always liked to be the progressive trailblazing teacher, the one that takes all the latest research and digs in. I loved having the time in Central Linn and learning SO MUCH. I loved the mission and learned the mission and let it be part of me. The same thing is happening here. It’s hard to describe what that feeling is like.

I have never experienced something like I did today. Being in a room with thousands of people that all work together to make the youth of our city healthier and more educated, well, it got to me. Our superintendent is incredible, our principals are incredible. Our staff is incredible. The whole entire vibe of every person that took the stage, from board members, community members, administration, and gifted high school student actors doing a (of all things!) PLC teacher archetypes play (OMG it was so funny and felt like a scene from the movie Booksmart.) was about . We heard things like:

You as educators have to take care of yourselves first. Put your oxygen mask on first. Feed yourself first. Prioritize yourself! Don’t wait for the perfect moment, because that is an illusion. Be here now, and give yourself time.

The message was continual today. But it’s also something I’ve heard in every single training as a repeated message, over and over and at every gathering of employees. There are health related businesses that the District has negotiated discounts for us with like yoga studios and gyms. They gave us each a hydro-flask. They are basically reminding us to serve with our overflow, vs. with what’s needed to fill our cup. If I’ve learned anything about my new school home since I got the job in April is that they really want us to practice good self care. And it doesn’t mean have an adult beverage on Friday, or get your nails done. It means actually work out. Move your body. Eat healthy food. Spend time with the people you love. Put your phone away. The message wasn’t about “we’re here for the kids,” even though that was the implied message. Instead the message was:

“education is amazing and we get to do this amazing job every day and we’re changing the world, so keep yourself fueled.”

This was astounding.

I left this training filled up with hope about the school year.

I went back to school for about an hour and put up my art of diverse heroes, mostly from the USA. This is a reproduction photograph of a Medicine Crow from the late 1800s that I bought for my classroom and an ocean spray art print I bought in Sausalito, CA in 1997. I put them in the cubby area of my classroom.

I also made the Peace Center area of my classroom more complete today. I have a soft rug from Afganistan, a drum from Indonesia, a drum from Gambia and a drum from China (made in China but not authentic, unfortunately) and maracas from Mexico. I also have the more “calming” section of my library here, with books on feelings, heroes, history, art, science discovery. I’ve already moved a few things since this picture, but you get the idea.

Then in the afternoon I had my first armed intruder training at Lincoln Center.

In the past I have 100% absolutely not wanted to do this, because I thought it would trigger fear and trauma for me. And if I hadn’t had a morning of hope and love and take care of yourself, dear educators, it would have maybe rubbed me the wrong way.

It 100% did not.

I’m not anti-gun. I’ve never been anti-gun. I think there needs to be something changed in how non-military/law enforcement people can get military grade weapons. I think laws are necessary within reason.

Lincoln Center now houses our District Admin offices. But it was the first school in Billings, built in the 1880s. Look at this water fountain. <3

I’m not intending to get political, but I also don’t know how guns got so political. The right to have them is genuinely in our constitution. I know saying this makes 1/2 of my readers get mad, and maybe not want to read my work anymore. But honestly, if I’m not honest and authentic about what my values are, what good am I to myself or anyone else? I think gun violence is about society, not about guns. I know that the USA has a huge amount of gun violence and if compared with other countries we don’t make sense statistically for a developed country. But seriously-the USA is the only country like the USA on the planet. We ourselves just don’t make a lot of sense. We have to figure some stuff out immediately about gun violence. But it’s not really about the guns.

I digress. Go ahead and click unfollow, I’m sorry.

I didn’t mean to offend you.

Love and peace to you always, said from my Amity dog Virgo heart.

I love you no matter what you need.

The training was so refreshing. The nature of this training prohibits me from sharing details because then I just help possible offenders get our information. But it was refreshing to have tools and have a plan, in a way that anyone that is military or law enforcement understands as part of their training. I was trained like that today, in a tiny teacher 3 hour way, but it was significant for me. I like to know how to do everything to the best of my ability, and now I know how to do this one thing-keep my students alive in an armed intruder situation-much better than I did yesterday. The police officers doing the training mentioned that we do a fire drill once a month, and the last time a school burnt all the way to the ground in Montana was in the 1950s. But gun violence on school property…we all know those stats.

So. No matter where you fit on the spectrum of feelings and political tide with gun violence and mass shootings in public places, knowing what you’d do in an armed intruder situation and what the plan is is incredibly empowering. I cannot recommend it enough, and this is said from someone that was exceptionally against having to do this training in the past. I know what I’d do now. No matter where you work, you should know what the plan is for safety.

Use every bit of knowledge and training you have to keep yourself and those around you safe. This is what they trained us to do today. Be aware.

And don’t forget they said. Don’t get apathetic about safety and violence.

Knowledge is power my friends.

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