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Teacher Talk: Comfort and Joy

December 16, 2017

 

You may feel overwhelmed. You may have too many things to do. You have a lot of people to take care of. You're tired. You're full of sugar. You're worn out, and you've still got at least a week to go before break. 

 

It's a time of joy and of impatience, of community and of exhaustion. 

 

You're going to be ok. 

 

Don't lose sight of what the season of light is supposed to be about. All of these holidays, all these celebrations and demands, they're there to remind us of community, to bring us together in the coldest days of winter, when it's darker and grayer and the chill runs to your bones. More important than the gifts, more important than the checklists, is the comfort we offer to each other in the darkest season of the year. 

 

That comfort doesn't come through gift cards and wrapping paper. It's the eye contact you make when you put down your phone and give your partner your undivided attention. It's hugging a little longer than usual to share a connection instead of just fulfilling a social norm. It's a cup of tea, shared with a friend, in a messy kitchen in your socks. 

 

Don't lose sight. Slow down, friend. To mangle two of my favorite sayings, we rise by lifting others up and we are all just walking each other home. Look around your school community. Who else seems to be struggling in the demands of the season? Who can you invite to sit with you for a few minutes and share a cup of tea? Who should you make eye contact with and ask, earnestly, "How are you?" Whose shelves can you offer to help clean at the end of the day, making space to chat and unwind together? Who may need you to sit with them in silence and just be present together? 

 

As teachers, we have chosen lonely work. As teachers, we have been chosen for lonely work. We spend so much of our time in spaces in which we may be the only adult, or one of only two, within which we can occasionally share a laugh or a brief conversation with another adult, but through which we are primarily focused on the children. We leave it on the field every day, to go home to families and homes, maybe to more homework of our own, maybe to continue teaching our own children, to groceries and errands and have-tos. It is unavoidably exhausting work, and it is work that we do with very few other people who understand the challenges. 

 

Connect to the ones who do. In this season of darkness, be a moment of light for someone else in your school. Caring for others, we can encourage them to slow down, to take time for themselves, to remember what this season is meant to be about. Caring for others, we remind ourselves that we are worth the same care. 

 

We rise by lifting up others and we are all just walking each other home. Slow down and take the time to do both... tis the season. 

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