the shift to distance

(drafted earlier this month)

I watched a video of a friend, an art therapist, talking to a local public radio personality about using art therapy activities to cope during social distancing and I cried because my first thought was: this is the kind of work we should be doing in schools. But we mostly don’t.

Just before the covid-19 response kicked in here we were on strike. Watching and experiencing the switch from adversarial strike mode, returning to the top-down model as we hard shifted into “distance learning” prep, was like watching several car crashes all at once, standing next to them and figuring out how to react, deflect, intense and confusing. Some people going into hyperproductive mode as an anxiety response, others putting on a face of competence as if they’ve done this before, others staring stunned in overwhelm, feeling that certainly they’ve never done this before. Two weeks of that.

And now the week of Spring Break. Before the distance learning begins. Some space to look back at this brief time, as well as the bigger expanse of the school year…

When I look back on the year, I feel a little terrible--this has been a hard year, feeling very minimally supported, facing complex emotional situations with little space or energy allowed for them, too many kids in one room, so many shell games with needs and expectations...the shock of the quick transition from that existence made me almost just move on past it, but...when I stop to remember, I remember, and I feel bad. It was so disorienting and alienating--making me feel so different from who I know that I am…though I did my best with it and I know it wasn't all bad. (it just could be so much better.)

Today it snowed. April. So I listened to the Prince song and cried and felt the beauty of it, the" brutiful" (glennon doyle) and thought back at the last couple of weeks...

Our job now should be to see and to feel human, to notice how everything is working together (or falling apart) and to save and make space for that. To breathe and to feel, and when this is over, this is our job, too. Yes, even in schools.

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