you're scared, but you begin

“As teachers we need to stop waiting for someone to create the perfect lesson plan or curriculum we can take word-for-word. We need to read journal articles and professional books, network with colleagues and read our own independent reading in order to create lessons for our kids.”

--attributed to Sarah Mulhern Gross on instagram via @msadamsteaches, saved as a screenshot in my phone

you’re scared, but you begin.

the floors are so clean they squeak and are almost hard to walk on

a new school year is about to begin

the third school in three years

if you’re counting

not because i was fired or choose

this particular strange way to torture myself,

starting over, not knowing

where the most convenient bathroom or box of paper clips

or helpful person is. . .

in so many ways it is making it harder for myself

on the brain and the logistics and the soul

leaving the small world we’d created together

and teachers are rewarded for staying in one place. continuing

tradition. being reliable

memory banks and task doers.

committee members. continuers.

cleaner-uppers of messes physical and metaphorical


newcomers mean people have to

pause and explain -- well,

this is how we do things--

why? well, I mean… it started

that way and.. then..

we just kept going...

that used to be someone’s job but, wow, i mean…

so-and-so just took it on temporarily and then...maybe

you’d like to do it? or talk to the (acronym acronym blah blah blah)

well, we have to do it that way because it’s how it’s been…

i’ve developed this makeshift way of working with this deficiency…

maybe? i can explain it to you? or just, i mean…

newcomers are disruptive--they notice everything.

newcomers are excited! fresh!

but also overwhelmed, so tired...

why do this again? third time’s a charm, a hat trick, a trio, a trend?

I am early in this path of work.

I learn from doing.

I learn from contrasts---

what makes a school? what makes a school work?

what makes a community? what is made clear to staff and what isn’t? (why?)

what supports a teacher? what makes teachers turn away

from each other? what supports students? what confuses them? angers them?

what brings them together and what builds walls between them?

what helps them be on their own?

what helps you grow and what wears you down?

i am learning. i am watching.

in this phase i don’t yet take my comfort that might be found in second-year-same-place-competence, in repeating at least some of the things, and

i task myself with starting again--

take 3 at making a space

that welcomes, nourishes,

challenges, grows--

[leaving the students is the worst part, even if they might not be in your class next year anyhow, you won’t see them show up with their new haircut and their bigger shoes, won’t see them around, delighting in all their big and small’s crushing. but they are not yours forever. or they are (in your heart, memory, soul, care)]

i won’t do this every year,

and it can be done in variations even when staying in place,

but for now i trust my instincts and my needs. i work to

find/build a solid foundational structure from which i can stretch and

look and see and be supported and take in

and feel sufficient/insufficient/sufficient/insufficient---can grow

i’m scared, but i begin. (again)


P.S. two teacher podcasts that I find deeply challenging, supportive, and edifying right now: angela watson’s truth for teachers and common sense podcast

recent notes