Photo by Oscar Keys on Unsplash

I had to get out of the house immediately. There was no time to stretch or properly warm-up. Anxiety had hijacked my brain, shooting lava through my central nervous system. I laced up my running shoes, tightened the drawstring on my Cookie Monster pajama pants, and bolted for the door. I squinted from the afternoon sun as my fingers fumbled to find the right song on my phone. Before long my feet were pounding out a fevered beat against the pavement.

Normally I run in the morning. No one is out and it’s dark and everything is quiet. My mind is free to wander in and out of the shifting mansion of my consciousness as it pleases. But right now I was running with a singular purpose: escape.

I had just finished a ninety minute professional development on hybrid teaching. The big name consultant leading the session did exactly what they were paid to do: offer teachers strategies for working with virtual students and in-person students at the same time. There was no mention of community, joy, or resilience. Concepts like trauma, social-emotional learning, and anti-racism were nowhere to be found. Instead we got strategies with names like Station Rotation and the Big Flip Flop.

It was like the virus didn’t even exist. All that mattered was putting bodies in buildings. Cover up the hurt with new lesson plans. Carve a makeshift tunnel out of teaching strategies and action plans and let it lead us back to normalcy. Teachers. Students. Content. Tests. Grades.

Where was the plan to help students, staff, and families make sense of everything that had happened in the last academic year? Where was the recognition that so many of us are broken and in need of collective healing? This was technocratic gaslighting, that particularly North American delusion that nothing matters but quantifiable progress.

You can’t differentiate trauma.

So I ran. It was unseasonably warm, but I kept my hood drawn tight around my head. The last thing I needed was someone seeing me and reporting me for being outside before the end of contract hours. This probably wouldn’t have happened, but it felt like it could have. Relationships and alliances have shifted over this last year, and sometimes I don’t know who I can trust.

It’s been a feeding frenzy. Teachers and parents clogging social media feeds with screenshots, articles, and invectives. All of us engaged in an internecine struggle for dominance.

Everything feels out of reach. There are no pit stops. There are no rest stations for travelers weary from the relentless drumbeat of OUR KIDS ARE BEHIND and YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE. How will I do this? How will I make this work? How will I survive with body, heart, and spirit intact? There is no escape. Only submission to the waves.

Closer than you think.

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