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Let me be brave at this time when I don’t feel brave.
Let me focus on the students on my screen
as the dog barks madly at the postman,
the neighbor mows his lawn for the third time this week
and another American city erupts in pain.
Let me be strong when I feel like a lost astronaut:
mask on the mouth, face shield on the forehead, voice amplifier on the hip.
I could laugh or cry trying to teach this way, so let me
do both, take three deep breaths, and enter the classroom.
Let’s recognize the fear, the suffering and how these
who were already anxious are even more so. Ask for help
and accept it, and encourage our students to reach out.
Let’s invent new ways to connect: every Zoom meeting
a portal, each physical class a changed but dynamic space.
Let’s redefine what community means, what
to come together means. Protect us from each other
because the barriers are also falling. Help us learn to live with the paradox.
Let our students remember to get out of bed and get dressed
before logging in to the class, and may they continue to introduce us
to their dogs, cats, guinea pigs and parakeets. Let us get closer
to their words and their ideas, even though we are six feet
or thousands of kilometers away.
Let’s look in the eyes above the masks, in pixels, for the first
or 500th time. Get to know us through our writing,
codes and calculations, and through the puckering of a smile.
Let the physics experiment at home match that in the lab;
let the music breathe, beat and sway through microphones and screens.
Future educators watch today’s educators figure out how to educate in this era.
Future logisticians see supply chains breaking down and reforming.
Future lawyers and police watch – and some participate –
protests and social uprisings. Historians in training watch history take shape;
creative writers observe the lines between fantasy and realism
blur and mix until one is the other.
So let’s plan and improvise, pivot and flex.
Let’s share, collaborate, mix and integrate.
That ingenuity coexists with fear, compassion
with defense, humor with darkness. Let’s be real
with each other, touchstones for each other.
And take care of ourselves. Bring on the lake,
video games, leaven, woods,
Bach and punk; bring us all that keeps
we go. And all we wish for ourselves,
wish our students, and all we wish
for our students, let’s wish it for ourselves.
To live a life altered and still full of meaning,
to continue learning and dreaming in times of crisis,
let the crisis influence us but not dissuade us
so that it is not our roadblock, but our equipment.
Let’s continue this experience together,
with all possible precautions, born of the commitment,
curiosity and love. Let’s be open to transformation.