Last Friday night it started to snow. It started to snow a lot. By Saturday afternoon we had a couple inches of snow on the ground. By Sunday morning we had a few feet. We spent the day shovelling and shovelling and shovelling just to make sure the dogs had some snow free areas to hang out. In the process of all of that I hurt my back and was pretty miserable. Sunday night our school division called a snow day for Monday and the RCMP closed highways because of the dangerous conditions of the roads. The thing is that while there was weather warnings, we were getting news reports that this thing, this massive storm was coming we couldn't do much to prepare other than have the groceries we needed to avoid highway travel and hope for the best. If you have not tried to walk in 2 -3 feet of fresh heavy snow it is a bit difficult. You sink in and pulling your leg out is a task, you fall over and get wet and cold. Your mobility becomes limited. The snow just weighs everything down.
This year has felt like a snowstorm.
Things have not gone totally as planned. I have felt like I am sinking in that snow, stepping on unstable ground. I saw the year coming, but didn't expect how different the same kids could be. I think about how school itself can be a snowstorm for our students. All the responsibilities that they have beyond the work they do in our class. A parent told me yesterday that her kids have homework every night. More snow. Problems with friends. More snow. Struggles with other teachers. More snow. Family struggles. More snow.
Before long we can't move. We think things can't get better. Monday morning I got in the truck and tried to drive to the gym, through the drifts and into a parking lot that had easily 2+ feet of snow and more in the drifts. I thought the truck would get stuck so before I stopped and tried to go in I decided to attempt another visit later, perhaps the plows would come. Perhaps we could dig out.
This is the daily work in the classroom. Our jobs as teachers is to dig out. To help our students with the things that pile up and become insurmountable. Too much homework? Teachers, we need to look at our practice and time use in class. If our students are in class for 70 minutes and still having to do hours of homework there is something wrong. Problems with friends? Family? Other teachers? We need to be aware, we need to get to know our students. We need to work as a community to support each other. When the snow is falling that fast and you don't have the tools to dig yourself out you depend on others for help.
By Monday afternoon the plows were clearing the streets, community members had out they machines to dig out those who could not help themselves. Private companies joined the town crews to help clear the roads. The snow finally slowed and the sun broke through the clouds. Things began to melt. The shovelling was still a lot of work but slowly we dig ourselves out.
This is the promise of sound practice in teaching. Things are tough at times but if we keep at it with the support of our teaching community we can dig out. Class is getting better across the board. Today I had an alright lesson that other teachers and administrators sat in on. We had moments of brilliance and powerful reflection. Later in the day I sat with a room full of students new to Notice and Note and we discussed how 3 signposts helped us to look at the conflicts both internal and external as well as the theme of the movie and I think they started to see the "WHY?". The day ended with three students book talking. One with the enthusiasm of a motivational speaker performing for a crowd, another with a quiet reserved reflection for their peers on the beautiful Ghost Boys and a final one, a single student in an empty room whose paper shook as she read about her book, overcoming her own snow storm. These kids of mine will help to dig me out. Some days it feels the snow won't end and other days the sun is shining and the melt has begun.
We dig out.