Knowing and Not Knowing: Slice of Life

Knowing and Not Knowing: Slice of Life

Last summer I wrote a lot of teaching related posts on this blog. I talked about classroom libraries, nonfiction books and assessment. I made countless book lists. I wrote to reflect, to make sense of things and to share. Looking back on those posts, it seems like I knew a lot and had much clarity around what I wanted to discover and figure out.

This summer, I have been quiet. School related thinking has been about boxes and change and a whole lot of unknown. I have more questions than boxes and I had a whole lot of boxes. If I were to start a list of what I don’t know, I wouldn’t know where to begin and no idea where to end. I forget to breathe just thinking about it.

Knowing and not knowing is full of confusion.

I don’t know my students. I don’t know this community. I don’t know the routines and rhythms of the school. I don’t even know the full capacity of what I don’t know.

My ignorance is a safety net.

There are many things I couldn’t pack in those countless boxes. On the eve of the new school year, they swirl around me, reminding me that they won’t walk through the door with me tomorrow. They will nudge me to the corner and then stop and watch. I am on my own. Knowing I am without them.

How strange it will be to walk into a school after a long summer break and not have children rush to me with happy smiles, big hugs and bubbly chatter. I will be other in a place I am wanting to belong. It has been so long since I have been a stranger.

Knowing and not knowing is lonely.

I have not brought histories with me. Knowledge and experiences of the dramas and the traumas we have lived through and learned from.  I can’t hold up pieces of art, books from the shelf, photos from the wall and ask, “Remember this?” We don’t yet have memories. We don’t have favourites. We don’t have anything to smile back upon. Everything is about forward.

Relationships are the ticket to everything. This, I know. Yet, tomorrow, I will walk in to this new school with no relationships. I did, however, leave many behind. I have walked from a blooming, bursting garden full of blossoms and prickly bits to stand in front of a patch of soil that looks, right now, just like dirt. Likely, it is full of unknown seeds that will begin to sprout. I need to discover the right balance of water, light and space.

I need patience and faith.

And time, of course. Always time.

I left familiarity.


Understanding of place.

The comfort of what is known.

I now wait in this strange place between knowing and not knowing.

Ready for forward.

Ready to know new things.

Bad Irony: Slice of Life

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

24 thoughts on “Knowing and Not Knowing: Slice of Life

  1. So brave Carrie. “Knowing and not knowing is lonely.” The first days with students are always out of kilter. But for you in a new community, all relationships are new. In my class, I have new kids, but many are related to former students. I don’t realize how much community I have until I look closely. One thing’s for sure, you grow a beautiful garden where you plant yourself and your teacher love. Those kids, that school is lucky to have you.

  2. I love this post, especially at the beginning of the school year where so many of my thoughts are about “not knowing” and being comfortable with most of it, but uncomfortable with some of it. There is something profound about being in that space in the middle and willing to explore it. I love the way you capture that. Have a great school year!

  3. I know you are a wise gardener, will start those seeds and care for them from the beginning. The memories will be there on the 2nd day when you can say “remember yesterday when. . .” Best of my wishes traveling with you, Carrie! Your students are lucky to have such an experienced gardener!

  4. Carrie, your post really hit home. Tomorrow my kids start at a new school, 3,000 miles away from their last one. Last week, we went to school a few times for back-to-school type events, and we were all wide-eyed and a little weepy, especially my oldest child (4th grade). She and I missed our old school. Specifically, we missed the comfort of familiar faces, routines, and places. Tomorrow is a big day for our family, and it’s nice to read about one person who knows how it feels to be so far from the familiar. Best of luck to you!

  5. Carrie, your honest self-reflection and deep love of what you do is the rich fertilizer that will nourish the soil in your new classroom garden. Wishing you a fulfilling, happy, FUN school year!

  6. I understand exactly where you are. After twenty years in one school, I moved to a new town, new school. These first few days will be minus the hugs and greetings, but it will change, quickly. Soon the memories created by this class will come bubbling to the surface. I hope today’s been a marvelous one for you!

  7. You have brought your histories with you, the children who shaped your teaching heart, and led you to grow your teaching practice. They will always be with you, keeping you company until you forge those new histories, which you will…because that’s the teacher you are. best of luck, Carrie!

  8. Your post has such a lovely rhythm – the sea saw effect helps me connect with your feelings. The craft perfectly fits – knowing and not knowing. Beautiful as always. Cannot wait to join you in your journey through your posts! Thinking of you this week.


  9. Knowing and not knowing seems like such a shaky and confusing place. But in no time, those relationships will start to bloom and you’ll begin to love this new place and the people in it. They are so lucky to have you!

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