I don’t know that I can say anything here that my colleagues haven’t already said much better in their columns for this Shelter-at-Home edition of Chaparral. It seems an understatement to say these are strange times, not least because of the way that work and home have suddenly become blurred together.
Some of us are teaching with pajama pants on. Some of us are teaching from our bedrooms, that most private of sanctuaries into which we would never ordinarily invite our students. Some are juggling childcare, homeschooling, and somehow balancing a laptop in one hand and a needy pet in the other. This bleed between work and home makes it hard to separate one from the other, and can come with the exhausting side effect of feeling as if we are always working.
While not having to put on nice pants certainly has its perks, I admit my enthusiasm for teaching is harder to come by when I’m sitting on my lumpy old futon. My leg jiggles almost incessantly. I want to get up, move around a classroom. I want to teach with my hands, with my whole body. Alas; for now, I am but a talking head on a screen, and my students are vague black boxes with names floating strangely in that abyss.
Yet even here, there have been shining moments in my classes when something miraculously seems to work really well on Zoom; there are moments of humor shared in the chat, along with students jumping in to answer each other’s questions; there is a real sense of compassion and commitment. I am inspired by my colleagues who leapt into action to completely overhaul the way instruction is delivered, but I am also inspired by my students who have stuck with it and adapted with dedication, flexibility, and grace.
As for me, I’ve challenged myself to write a poem each day of April (which is National Poetry Month), and I’ve found this creative exercise extremely therapeutic. I’d like to share one with you.
the spiders are still spinning
the birds are still singing
the trees are still rustling their leaves in the wind
but the street has gone quiet
the hours more pliant
as we wait for this long pause in living to end
I wish you all health and peace,