Building Community: More WE Less ME – Episode 059

To say that quarantine has been difficult is truly an understatement; the fabric of our society has been stretched out to allow for social distancing, which just like a real fabric, if you were to stretch it out, it would become tense.


And that’s really been the color, the mood, the best way I could describe these last few months; tense. Tension from not knowing, tension from learning more, tension again from NOT knowing, then tension from learning and knowing more and more.  And even during the lull of a peaceful afternoon or a quiet morning, you are not fully released of that tension. It’s always present 


My science brain can’t help but think that mother nature is somehow after us; it wants us to stop messing with the climate. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like the earth is saying; STOP MESSING WITH ME! Which I get! Its understandable! We have been toying with the earth too long, we invade spaces where humans do not normally live, and because we do not focus on preserving and instead we pillage, something is going to give! 


Which brings me back to that tension. It’s a new kind of tension and stress. It’s a very unique form of tiredness. And of course it is, because in our lifetimes we have never seen this kind of outbreak and pandemic! We are not used to this! However a challenge is a challenge, and we face them daily. And for those of us who live in “1st world” countries, the idea of comfort is a fallacy 


We are not guaranteed safety. We are not guaranteed security, we are not guaranteed comfort.  


Amazon, online shopping, door dash, uber… all of these companies want to make us believe that its a guarantee; they create a false sense of security and expectation in the fact that things SHOULD be easier than they are.  Just like in the shows we (used) to watch more regularly, and how the main characters just “naturally” have the stuff they have, and it all seems effortless.  Yet you and I struggle economically, and we know families that are in much worse shape than us, and there are also families that we know are in a much better financial position than us.  But the expectation, the assumption that “well you can get there on your own”, that YOU can achieve YOUR level of comfort and YOUR definition of success that’s within YOUR grasp is an illusion.  


My car has been in the shop for 3 weeks now; i’ve had to uber to work (with my children) for two weeks, in the middle of a pandemic. Fortunately i’m only 5 minutes away, so the rides are short, and we sanitize after. In that time ive meet people from all over the world! Men and women who each have a unique story, some about job loss, some about supporting other family members, others who have lost their own businesses.  During this carless time I’ve used grocery delivery, which is delivered by someone whom I don’t know, used uber eats, which is again delivered by someone I don’t know, and these were all prepared and picked by other people whom I don’t know. And those fruits and vegetables and meat were all produced and picked by people who work in fields and meat processing plants, whom I don’t know, and who statistically speaking are immigrants who work in difficult conditions and are underpaid. 


My life, especially my life these past three weeks, has been reliant and has depended upon the work and sweat of others. Without the labor of others, there’s no way I could have facilitated and managed to just get to work and keep my job and put food on my table! Much less do anything outside of that! And now my safety and my health and the health and safety of my children is reliant upon the labor and purposeful intentions of others to wear masks and keep themselves sanitized and healthy!  I need people! 


That’s the power we have as educators; that’s the strength of our profession and calling. 


We Create Societies 


We Transform Lives


We Build Community 


You are a neural architect. In your classroom you create the neural infrastructure of our entire society. The cognitive, the emotional, and the psychological framework of each child that will one day become an adult.


And now, more than ever, we need that community. We need the SENSE of community, we need the smell, taste, touch, feel, sounds of community. It’s what made quarantine so difficult; the lack of community. More specifically, the lack of belonging. Where do I fit in society when I am not around people, when I am not physically IN society?!?!? 


Our society is full of ME, but it needs more WE 


You’re zoom meetings, your face 2 face, your hybrid classrooms are essential to this generation. Is that a massive responsibility to place on your shoulders? Absolutely; but the truth is, you need it as well, and so do I. I need my kids in my classroom, I need to interact with my students.  


In fact, the part I miss the most about teaching in person pre-pandemic, was the one-on-one discussions with my students. The side talks, catching up with kids on their sick cat, or how their weekend trip went, or how their art project is coming along. The smile they get when you tell them how awesome they are doing or they explain a funny event in their lives. That community, that feeling, that connection, is truly what we need most right now, for them, for us, for healing and moving forward.


Build your communities; not just with your students, but with other teachers as well. Reach out to people beyond your hallway. Reach out to your admin who have the weight of the world on their shoulders right now. Reach out to new teachers to help guide them, reach out to experienced teachers to see if they need help or to listen to their advice. Smile extra to the custodial and cafeteria staff who are truly on the front lines and are keeping us all safe. 


Yes, the fabric of our society is stretched out, and its stretched out thin, but it doesn’t mean it needs to be broken. It can be healed, it can be nurtured, and it can be maintained by reaching out to those in our immediate circles. Everyone of us needs to reach out and we NEED to be reached out to! I also need to be checked up on just like I need to check up on someone else! 


This is a form of self care that you and I, that we all need. 


And when you do reach out, no matter where you are, or what you do, seal it with a smile 



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