“Don’t follow the path. Go where there is no path and begin the trail. When you start a new trail equipped with courage, strength, and conviction, the only thing that can stop you is you!”Ruby Bridges, September 8, 2017
I gotta love that Ruby Bridges and all of her sassiness is a Virgo. She’s 66 this month, I’m 50. It BLOWS MY MIND that integration became law only a few years before I started school.
I am an anti-racist educator. I have always been that person, but the term is new for me to claim. In all reality, I didn’t know that anti-racist was a term until George Floyd was killed. That’s part privilege and part ignorance. When I was in all.the.college I learned that “diversity” and “tolerance” were the terms to use as a “woke” teacher.
I started teaching my class about Ruby on the 2nd week of school. She is the first hero we are studying this year. I felt a connection between her bravery my student’s bravery. She went to school in early integration, the only Black child in the all-White school she was newly attending. There were two others in New Orleans that day, but they went together, so they had a friend. My students-all the current students-are going to school during Covid. They are dealing with Covid whether they are doing in person, distance learning, homeschooling, or unschooling. All of the children are dealing with this.
The venn diagram of integration/Covid is not the focus of our unit on Ruby, but it is a way to help them make it real for their lives.
They made this mural of Ruby as a class project, and they are really proud of it. I’m proud of it, too. I’ve never done this one before! I bought it from JennyK on TPT. I’ve done these kinds of mural projects with my students in other years, and usually there are great ones on TPT. Each student gets a paper and it tells them what color to color it, etc. This project was in colored pencil, crayon or marker. I am in awe of any teacher that can possibly handle paint in class right now. I am usually the teacher that can handle paint…I mean. I taught Preschool for 6 years, Preschool art for 2 years, and Kindergarten for 5 years. BUT HONEY, TEACHING PAINTING IN A REGULAR ED CLASS RIGHT NOW IS NOT SOMETHING I CAN DO. This is said with love as a former art teacher. Those of you that have opened the tempera paint, I love you forever and I bow to your courage. You are just like Ruby.
I’m not sure who our next hero will be. I’m still thinking about humans that would inspire and be relevant to my student’s lives right now. I mean, naturally I could teach them about many many humans, but in my heart I know it has to connect to their current crazy lives.
It is so crazy. Our lives are crazy.
My students ran out of energy around 11 AM.
Luckily today was Wednesday, early out, but they were getting ornery around 10. “Making” them do work is like pulling out teeth. No, it’s more like pulling out their perfectly healthy fingernails. They resist it like their amygdalas are in fight or flight.
This makes sense, though, if you really think about it. We go into our amygdala when we are under extreme stress. It is our rip-cord survival, run, animal alert, panic mode. And honey. We have been in this state for 6 months now. Naturally they are struggling with what is scary and what is not.
It’s so hard.
I’m not going to stop challenging them, BUT, I am going to give them as.much.time.as.they.need.to.do.their.assignments.because.life.is.hard.enough.already.without.their.teacher.making.them.hurry.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t make me want to rip my hair out or scream.
But they deserve my grace.
ALL THE STUDENTS DESERVE GRACE.
I told them I love them today. There were some screwed up, confused faces, looking at me like I’m batty. I told them this after coming in from lunch recess and half of them were as hot as hornets caught in a jar.
I told them my honest truth. “When you smack talk each other it hurts my heart.”
Then I had to explain “smack talk.” They appreciated the slang.
“I love you. You are amazing humans and I love you. Please be kinder to each other.”
I finally found my Bucket Filler book. I had it at home from teaching in spring and didn’t remember. I finally got it to school today. Tomorrow…this is is our recess pre-game.
This blog is like a nightly prayer reminding me to breathe. To love on my students. To give them the benefit of the doubt.