Saturday, June 01, 2019

What I Learned in May

I started last year's "What I Learned in May" post by writing, "I don't think people learn much in May, at least not the school kind of learning. May is mostly disrupted schedules, noisy celebrations, chaos of many varieties. There were projects and exams, yes, but mostly, if you haven't learned it by now, you probably won't, not this year."

I feel the same way this May. Yesterday in our last meeting of the year, my colleagues and I were invited to reflect using a series of questions. What were we proud of? What was a time we felt joyful and inspired? What was the most valuable thing we learned? I couldn't answer those questions very well. I did better with the negative ones. What was frustrating? What caused stress? What was the biggest mistake we made this year and how can we avoid making it again in the future?

May isn't the time for feeling good about my teaching. I just read all that work, posted all those grades. I know exactly what we accomplished this year, and what we didn't. Give me a few weeks of peace and quiet, and I'll be enthusiastic again by August.

I do have a small file on my desktop of links from this month, though, so here goes:

My brother sent me this podcast about language use in France, and specifically how you can and can't refer to race. So interesting, especially when listened to in Haiti, home of one part of France's stinky history of slavery and inequality.

Rachel Held Evans died at 37.

Dina Nayeri writes on how family separation at the southern border is "a literal hell constructed for children." That description makes it sound like a ranty political piece, and it's not, at all: it's a beautiful, reflective description of what Nayeri knows about how little kids' minds work, based on her own translation of her two year old daughter's ways of seeing the world. Who is listening to little kids who are separated from their parents, she asks?

Here's another one from, this one about mothers who are writers, and to what extent our children's stories do and don't belong to us.

Jean Vanier died at 90.

That's all I wrote down in my "What I Learned in May" file. No doubt I learned more than that. I started an eBird account, for example, and learned to identify some birds. I wondered, reading about mass extinctions, whether I'd just started paying attention to birds right when they all were about to go away. I started making plans for a birdwatching club next year at school, even if I'm the only one out there peering up into the branches.

I cleaned out my classroom and ended another school year.

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