Today was the first day of school. It was a good day, despite the scorching heat. Within 20 minutes of entering the building, I was dripping with sweat. It continued like that throughout most of the day. Luckily, the library has air conditioning. The classrooms, however, do not.
It didn’t feel like the first day of a new school year. It felt more like coming back from a mid-year break. The hoopla wasn’t there. There wasn’t a “newness” about the day. Fatigue replaced excitement. I’m sure the heat wasn’t helping.
It was unfortunate.
I have to discover where my power lies. What is it that I can do to make the environment I work in better? How can I approach teaching and learning in a way that stimulates interest, for me and my students, and encourages learning? Where do I need to turn my focus away from in order to see opportunities instead of impediments? How, then, do I capitalize on those opportunities?
As part of trying to work through this, I’ve been mulling over whether I should speak up or stay quiet. The best answer is probably something like, “It depends.” Fine, but which end of the seesaw should I start on?
Often, speaking up feels ineffectual, a waste. When I want to speak up, I want to respond to something. Rarely do I want to start something new, to make a change that has thus far gone unseen. Staying quiet, somehow, feels like more of an act of control. Knowing there’s something wrong or that could be improved and understanding that any action in that direction will likely lead to little or no result, makes remaining silent on the issue feel prudent. However, not saying anything makes me feel complicit in what’s happening.
What’s the worst that can happen?
The beginning of a new school year is the beginning of another set of opportunities. Recognizing them is made difficult when the start feels commonplace, routine, and normalized. My eyes aren’t open as wide as they might be if I were seeing the year ahead for the first time. Tomorrow, as they say, is a new day, but the forecast is for similar weather. We need to be cooling off just as things should start heating up.
Originally published at https://www.bernardwalter.com on September 5, 2023.