Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Slice of Life Tuesday: First Day of School

 

I made an impulsive decision this afternoon, sitting at my desk after an astonishingly smooth first day of school. We are doing a hybrid plan this year, and our students haven't been in our classrooms since March. Today the first groups came to school, and we got the whole process underway. They got lockers and heard about COVID policies, went up and down specially marked staircases (not up and down the same ones; some are for up and some for down - making me think of that classic book on teaching, Up the Down Staircase), sat six feet apart wearing masks. I've been fretting for weeks about how it would go, and it went fine. Tomorrow we'll do it all again with the second groups, while today's students work online. 

 

The decision I made was to participate in Slice of Life, a Tuesday ritual that I've watched others doing for years.  Here's today's roundup of other people's Slice of Life stories.

 

Today I sat at our school's outdoor cafeteria and ate lunch with a new colleague. We live in Haiti, and our weather only keeps us from eating outdoors once or twice a school year when it rains during the day. We have picnic tables, and for this year they have been specially painted with yellow circles to show where it's OK to sit - only three kids per table. 

 

My new colleague asked how long I had taught at our school, and when I told him the year I moved to this country and started working here, he looked startled and told me that was the year after he was born. He's 28. Yes, I've been around here for a while. This year is definitely the weirdest and most intimidating, but I've faced challenges before. I think of my first year, when I learned that my students were used to a revolving door and plenty of starry-eyed young teachers from the US, and were not that eager to make my acquaintance. Year two was infinitely easier as far as acceptance from my students, but that year the US invaded Haiti, or "intervened" as they put it, and we had a tank in our parking lot for months. There was the year of the hunger riots, when protesters ransacked the convenience store across the street from our school, damaging it so badly that it's still sitting empty today. There was the year of the earthquake, when I left the country with my children and didn't return until six months later. There have been years of political turmoil, years of difficult classes that stretched me and made me want to quit some days, years of struggle in my personal life. 

 

And all those years brought me to this year, with new challenges. Can I meet them and survive? Or even thrive? Let's find out!

12 comments:

Stacey Shubitz said...

Congratulations on a downright fine first day of school. Hope day two goes just as well tomorrow... and the day after that... and the day of that... and so on!

Megan McCormick said...

I am so glad to hear Day 1 went smoothly. Your colleague's reflection on past challenges provided some much-needed perspective. Good luck with the rest of the year.

Lisa Keeler said...

So much to love about your slice. Yay that you are here and yay that your first day went smoothly.

Lisa Vahey said...

I'm slicing for the first time today, too. I know I need to work my writing muscles in an organized way, and can't wait to get these workouts in. Let's keep each other motivated. I appreciate your story telling today. I am putting "share a conversation" into my tickler list. Thank you for being a survivor (and writer!)!

mbhmaine said...

How nice to see you here, Ruth! I'm delighted to hear that your first day went well and hope to report the same relatively soon. What stories you have to tell from all your time in Haiti! I look forward to reading them.

Ramona said...

Welcome, Ruth, to your first slice! I know you from Poetry Friday and SJT, so I was surprised to realize that you weren't a regular slicer. You've given us insight into your years in Haiti with this post. I hope your year goes well.

arjeha said...

First day of school is so different from other years when it was locked assignments and school protocol. Hope your year goes smoothly.

Rita said...

I am glad you decide to Slice! It sounds like you had a great first day. I have two new grade partners this year, and they are both 24. I will be 62 in October and could practically be their grandma! Have a great year. I look forward to reading more of your stories.

Amy Ellerman said...

I’m so glad you decided to share a slice of life today! I’m fascinated to learn more about life and teaching in Haiti. This pandemic really has become a universal life changer, and your piece elevated that idea.

Fran Haley said...

Hi, Ruth! Happy to see you here! Your stories and experiences fascinate me but most of all I find your courage contagious ... no doubt in my mind that you will thrive. Here's to the journey :)

Carol Varsalona said...

Ruth, it is so good to see you writing alongside us at Two Writing Teachers. Knowing your amazing story of teaching in Haiti, I found this summary to be insightful. I was intrigued by how your school is handling education during the pandemic.

Betsy Hubbard said...

What an experience! I'm so glad you chose to share it this week.