This morning I was looking at the calendar on our office door that holds all the names of absent staff members. In all of my 45 years of being a school leader, I’ve never seen anything like this. Fortunately, this week we’ve had more people back, and the list each day is shorter than the day before. One day at a time. Baby steps back to whatever normal is these days.
Since we’ve come back to school in the new year, our days have been anything but normal. We’ve all been on high alert, keeping track of a variety of situations. Each scenario with return dates from exposure has to be customized. Without Danielle and Debbie’s tireless work on this, I don’t know what we’d do. Our staff continues to be phenomenal, covering for each other, working extra after school shifts, and filling in where needed. Additionally, parents keep reassuring us that we’re handling all of this as well as anyone could expect. Nevertheless, each day leaves us exhausted and overwhelmed in one way or another. The everydayness and uncertainty for all of us, parents included, often make it hard to keep going. Yet we do.
This week I decided to intentionally keep my eyes open for little stories that make me happy. Looking around school, there is no shortage of them. There was a tiny cauliflower head forming beneath huge green leaves that I initially thought might be collard greens. One of my favorites of the week was a group of preschoolers constructing a movie theater for ants in the soft dirt. The theater was situated below ground level with stone steps for ants to climb down. They even made a security camera so the ants wouldn’t get away. At the time, ants were the only thing missing.
By far, the sweetest story was early Thursday morning when shouts of joy spilled into the office from the Toddler 1s class. One of our toddlers took her first steps! Her teachers were on it, quickly sending a video to her parents. It was a celebration for all in her toddler village. As I reflected on what I wanted to write in my blog this week, her first steps helped me see that the best way through this time is taking our own baby steps. It’s not an experience that can be rushed or controlled. We just keep going, one step, one day at a time. At some point it will be over. We’ll move on as new versions of ourselves, making the best of the life before us.