Anyone currently working in public education at this time can speak to the inundating challenges that continue to mount like a swelling ocean relentlessly gathering in size and frequency poised to capsize even the most formidable educator. Truth be told, our mourning for what was lost and the state of our now not-so-new reality is something we must all wrestle with. The scars of the past have yet to heal, and still we are asked to carry on, buoyed by perhaps nothing more than our love of learning, passion for people, or the hope that a calmer seas may lay ahead.
Although the tunneled light has yet to shine through, the one truth I personally have witnessed, is that the educators who by choice, desperation, or default have somehow found a way to tether themselves to joy, appear to be the healthiest. In truth, it seems everyone’s joy is rooted in something different, but the fact that they have found it is key. For this I ask you dear educator, to find your joy. The joy of wonder in something new. The joy of hope for a better, brighter, more compassionate tomorrow. The joy of enthusiasm for something newly uncovered that could illuminate a way forward. The joy of connection to another, to others like and unlike us. The joy of laughter for something unexpected or ridiculous that previously seemed impossible. The joy of completion when a task is done and knowledge that you were the right person at the right right time to complete it. The joy of diverse thought, experience, and expectation. The joy of knowing that you may be that safe harbor for someone lost. The joy of recognizing that the tears that fall validate and vindicate your purpose.
If ever there was a time to choose joy, it is now. It is my hope that every school, district, and educator make the installation, spread, and promotion of joy a top priority. As we know the arts typically are the greatest conduit to joy. Expression, creativity, voice, critique, and envisioning are all rooted in the arts and so often linked to joy. Educators I ask you to lean into the arts and trust the healing joy inducing power they hold. Arts teachers wave your wand of voice, brightness, composition, texture, and motion. Elucidate willingly to those who will listen, see, and feel. We may believe our boats are too small or limiting, or too old, too convoluted, or without vision. It may seem that the world of education is too rigid, divided, and broken that the problems and solutions are never on the same plane. No doubt we have work to do, but let us be rooted, committed, and fortified by joy.
As the school year continues to unspool, revealing the very last bit of rope that holds and tethers your anchor, please find joy in knowing that many seeds you have planted will someday grow into amazingly resilient flowers that will in turn provide beauty, color, and joy.
Integration Education, LLC Founder