I am beginning to think differently about the more than two decades I taught in an inner city school. Well, not exactly differently but instead from a new perspective. About the work. The day to day. The experiences I shared. The realities I witnessed. Time and distance have made this possible.
It has been firmly established how I feel about the important work I got to do.
To fully honour it, I need to stand from a distance and look back. In the last weeks before I left last spring, I said this: If it is different somewhere else, I need to write about it. Not the different. That is another story. I need to find words to honour the challenges of the work I did. The work that is still being done. The difficulties we all experienced: those of us who worked there and most importantly, the children. The children whose lives are being lived out daily in those school settings.
Telling sad stories, that would be easy. I can lay those out one by one by one. Those aren’t the stories that need to be shared. That pulls all attention to the children and not enough to the systems. When you witness the trauma and drama year after year after year, it isn’t commonplace or meaningless. You don’t become numb. But you know it too well. It is in your system. It’s impossible to stand aside.
Now, I am standing aside.
And this I know, as I suspected it would be: now, what I do, it’s easier.
For me and on me, yes. For the children and about the children I now teach? Yes again.
In deep inner city schools, easier is not a word we ever used.
I need to find ways to talk about the trauma. To shine light on the resilience. To speak about the wonder of kids in ridiculous circumstances and the failure of our wrap around systems that don’t wrap around much.
I need to look beyond even further. I am now in a place where I am not so emotionally entwined. I spoke about advocacy then. I need to speak about it differently now.
I want to write about what could and should be in our inner city schools. I want to examine what is missing and what, I think, is just really wrong. I don’t think I have an answer somebody else has overlooked. But looking is worth it. Sometimes it is the same answer held up in many different hands that eventually makes the difference.
I am not there yet. I know what I can’t quite articulate. I need more time to think.
But then, I will hold it up.
I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.
Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.