To my fellow teachers,
I know this is a scary and uncertain time. For me, it feels as though I am living in a state of limbo – I am prepared to teach from home tomorrow, if I had to; I am also prepared to teach my kids who actually show up to school tomorrow – by Friday last week, my classes had halved. I am not going to lie, I have found this week to be super high with anxiety, tension and simply, fear. I can feel my own, my students, my colleagues and my community’s fear. I have caught myself with tears in my eyes as I watch the news; I have caught myself refreshing the newspaper apps on my phone for fresh information; I have caught myself being grateful my nana passed away last year, because a 91 year old woman, living in a dementia ward, would have been at great risk of dying without her family by her side; I have caught myself having the urge to go and raid the supermarket, just in case, but I don’t’ – although I do have 25kg of rice if anyone gets stuck…. We have watched something grow, from afar, and register it as not ours – not our virus; not our problem – it wont impact us – but it has, and it did from the first day of school, but even then, it wasn’t anything that was on my radar. I had no idea we would be where we are today. As teachers, once again, we are holding down the fort – we are holding our country together.
Close the schools, they urge – but they can’t, not yet. We need to look after the kids who have parents working in jobs that are needed now more than ever: doctors, nurses, cleaners, couriers, delivery drivers, supermarket workers, chemists, and this list goes on. We need to keep some sort of normalcy going for our kids, a positive routine with positive connections. My kids, in year 8, are getting nervous now, they are slowly starting to understand the implications of this virus, that while the virus might not make them too sick, they understand how sick it can make others they care about. The implications of the economy – on our healthcare system – on our people with compromised immunity. Their parents are working at home. Their parents are losing their jobs. Their parents have compromised immunity. Their parents are old. They are close with their grandparents. They have a compromised immunity. They have families all over the world. They can feel their parent’s anxiety – they see what’s happening on the news too. I’m doing my best to keep my anxiety away from them, to keep things kicking along as usual, but when you are showing your kids how our classes will run online, should we close, everything starts to feel really real.
Now, more than ever, our profession is needed to show up and shine our light brighter than we ever have. Now, more than ever, it is important you take care of yourself – of your headspace – of your fear – of your anxiety. Now, more than ever we need to be that safe space for our akonga, to be that beacon of light, but we can’t shine if we are not taking care of our own needs. I urge you to take care of yourself. I urge you to reflect on how you are feeling about everything. I urge you to talk to your family, your friends, your colleagues. I urge you to stop and breathe.
I urge you to shine your light, lead with love and hold a place in your heart for the rest of the world. Instead of living through a lense of fear and anxiety, live through a lense of love and compassion – compassion for yourself and for the rest of humanity; focus on the good that is happening in our world – the skies are clear in China, the fish can be seen in Venice, people, even though they are isolated, are coming together and connecting more than they ever have.
Last year, I was at the end of my theater – I was so close to walking away from teaching – I was so close to a full blown burnout. This year, I have found a love for what I do again, my passion has been ignited and I am not about to let a global pandemic extinguish my fire, a fire I have worked so hard to reignite. We are strong people, we are a profession of light workers, souls on this earth who are here to share our light with those we come in contact with.
Our light is needed now.
Our light is needed now more than ever.
Shine your light.
Please, shine it like you have never shone it before.
This virus has impacted my family economically – but that is something I have no control over. And, as a private school teacher, this could get worse for me and my family – if the economy is fucked for too long, I lose my job, but again, I have no control over this. I do however have control over my actions and I am not going to give into fear anymore. Our kids need us and our community need us to be strong – please, I cannot urge this enough, please, please take care of yourself. Take care of each other. We will get through this, but we need to help each other – look out for those who are struggling; don’t bottle your shit up – work through it. Our kids need your light.
To you, my fellow teachers, I send you so much love.
I send you strength, for your strength, is my strength.
I shine my light for you.
I shine my light for me.
I shine my light for us.