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An unexpected email

March 24, 2022

It was a tough morning, culminating in a student crying, shouting, and taking his shoe off to wallop the floor because he didn’t win the free-shooting competition in gym class.

Lunch wasn’t nearly long enough.

And so it’s a relief to set the kids on auto-pilot for our after-lunch “quiet time”. Lights off, bamboo-fountain music playing softly, I sit at my desk for a moment to glance at my email.

There’s a new message from the principal, labeled “Classroom set up”.

I’m itching to get back to my old set-up. Desks in rows are not for me. As soon as the email came last week about classes going back to eating in the cafeteria, a la two years ago, I was in the principal’s office asking “Does this mean I can move my desks and have my kids sit in a circle on the rug?”

She looked at me sympathetically, but her answer was still no. “Hopefully after April break. The superintendent wants us to move slowly. Once we see how things go with the cafeteria, then we can think about changing the classrooms.”

Disappointing, but understandable.

Still, I’m itching. I’m counting down the days, day-dreaming about how the room will look, planning new seating charts already.

The email hits me like a shock, and I gasp out loud.

As of tomorrow, you will be able to move your classroom desks to better meet your needs for the rest of the school year.

All of a sudden, my eyes fill with tears.

I’m crying.

I can’t believe I’m crying.

I can’t believe we’re finally going to get to move the desks out of their rows.

I look at my students, sitting in their individual islands, each 3 feet apart, imagine moving the desks tomorrow. More tears come, and I’m worried kids are going to look up and worry about their teacher checking her email and then sobbing.

Sometimes I’ve gone to a yoga class full of stress from the week, and have lain on the mat, doing nothing but breathing, and tears have poured out.

I think that’s what’s going on here.

My mask is still on, the students are just as challenging, but I can finally breathe again.

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  1. What a wonderful email! I can only imagine the excitement and energy your students will bring to being able to sit in a circle.

  2. I feel you! Rows are the worst! (And truly, after everything we now know about how the virus spreads throughout a room indoors, I don’t know why anyone thinks those 3 ft islands have been helping!) I can’t believe they changed the cafeteria before letting you change your classroom! We haven’t had to have rows and I’m grateful for that… although on the other hand, I wish we would take more precautions! Your writing made me feel like I was right in that moment with you, reading and crying and hoping nobody would walk in!

  3. You capture the emotions so well. So much has been piled on. We know rows and sitting in desks all day isn’t good for any of us. What a relief to finally get that freedom back.

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