Sunday, February 26, 2012

Last Sunday in February, 2011

A repeat from last year, almost to the day, to remind me what matters....

Our crocuses bloomed today. A tiny horseshoe crab, smaller than my thumbnail, crawled out of the Delaware Bay. The day lilies are rising again, like Phoenixes from the snow's ashes.

All of this is more real than the nonsense that passes for discourse in the education world. I can still close my classroom door (though I rarely do) and tackle whatever problems we care to tackle that day.
Why is my plant wilting? Hey, sow bug babies! I think my slug drowned.
How come the starfish hasn't moved in three days? Are those mosquitoes?
Look! Peas!
We got kids from Somalia, from Sierra Leone, from Poland, from China, from Ghana. Not third generation, not second. We're talking off the airplane (Newark Liberty International Airport) and into the brink. I taught a child who spoke only Bengali.

And we thrive.

We thrive despite the mandates, the tests, the current climate that forgets the roots of the word public, "pertaining to the people." Our town supported the last budget, despite the struggles of family after family after family.

Families that come from desperate situations know education matters. Families that come from desperate situations value teachers who care about their children. They put their trust in our hands, in our classrooms.

So while the elite press on about this magnet school, that philosophy, the myriad ways to use (and abuse) technology, scouring the US News and World Report for college rankings (and the NJ Monthly for state rankings), most of the rest of us go about our business, getting children ready for loving, happy, and (yes) productive lives.

But never just productive.

I work for Bloomfield, and its families, and for its children. I do not work for Arne Duncan, I do not work for Governor Christie. I give my all every day, because I want my lambs to be happy, in the Jeffersonian sense, and I want them prepared to pursue whatever dreams they hope to pursue.

I wiled away a good chunk of the afternoon on a jetty poking into the bay. I stared at barnacles for a bit, mourned all the oysters scraped off the rocks by this year's ice. The water was exceptionally clear, revealing thousands of comb jellies, floating in with the tides, then floating out again.

My happiest moments are spent on the edges of the sea. 

I stumbled upon the horseshoe crab, not much different than its ancestors that wandered these same shores when dinosaurs still roared. It may be still alive, it may be in the belly of a gull now. Tomorrow I will share its story with my students, because for them, these stories still matter.

And then I will test them on meiosis and synapses and centromeres and chromatids, to get them ready for the state exam in May. Those who finish early will be allowed to study their terrariums, their aquariums, to see how their critters did over the weekend.

 And the day will not be completely wasted, the last Sunday of February, as the light returns, and all things, all things, again become possible.

All photos taken today.
 First one crocuses, then the tiny (and live) horseshoe crab, then the points of a dead horseshoe crab, 
then barnacles hanging out waiting for the next tide, 
and finally, light as seen through the compound eyes of a horseshoe crab.

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