You don’t need me to tell you that this year has been immeasurably hard. But, just in case no one has told you recently, this year has been immeasurably hard. There is good reason to be tired, good reason to feel frustrated, good reason to feel like you struggled this year in school, in your friendships, in life.

So, I want to thank you. Thank you for everything you have done this year, for every bit of patience and resolve you’ve shown, for all the new skills and strengths you found in a year unlike anything any of us have…

I use the phrase “the work” a lot. I picked it up in educational equity circles where it is used with sweeping gestures to refer to all that is undone.

My poetry professor and mentor and the scariest and most wonderful human I’ve ever known, Michael Dennis Brown, often quoted Ingmar Bergman, “I throw a spear into the darkness. That is intuition. Then I must send an army into the darkness to find the spear. That is intellect,” to talk about how poems get made and made better.

I think about “the work” a lot like that. We’ve thrown our…

Pictured: Me, being not very good at this.

I don’t talk about this much, but there is a plaque of me hanging in the Wisconsin High School Track and Field Hall of Fame. It’s near the back, so you may not have seen it on any of your visits. The plaque, which features a bronze relief of me in Freshman year of high school, commemorates my place in history as the runner of the “Worst Race Ever.”

It was an indoor track meet, our first of the year, on one of those tracks made of shredded up car tires. I, as a runner who lacked both speed and…

Clinton, 8th Grade

I met Clinton in my first year of teaching. He was a fourth grader, and small for a fourth grader, and also the only fourth grader that showed up on the first day of Chess Club. I really didn’t know that much about chess, but I knew even less about how to say no to doing stuff when asked by my principal, and so I was the Chess Club supervisor. Most of kids came in, dumped their stuff by the sink, and started pairing themselves off to play games against their friends. …

Everyone Seems So Sure About What We Read and How. I’ve Got Questions about Why.

The longer I go without being able to go anywhere or do anything, the more Twitter starts feeling like my real life. This can’t be good for me. This can’t be good for anyone.

I don’t know about you, but my little corner of teacher Twitter has been doing a whole lot of shouting lately about what we read and how we read it. I’ve mostly stayed out of it for a few reasons. For one, the “science of reading” and “defend the cannon” crowds…

Thanks for All You Do!

Donuts²

Guided Meditation³

The phrase, “thank you for all you do”⁴

Ice Breakers⁵

Positivity⁶

Changes⁷

Promises of safety⁸

Giving up on the Big Stuff⁹

Standardized Tests¹⁰

[1] I’m doing all the self-care I know how, taking walks, reading books, journaling, drinking water, eating fiber. These things are ok, but I’m not doing great and I need help. I need other-people care as well. This is a challenge because we’re all drowning in this year and are very low on capacity for taking care of each other. …

Pictured: Me (under boat)

I’ve got a really good feeling about what these kids are going to do when we finally do get them back into buildings full-time. I don’t really care how much work they got done this year. I don’t.

We always confused work with learning anyway. We always confused a lot of things with learning anyway.

Somewhere in the mess of what they learned this year living through this, and what they learned from whatever school was for them, I feel like they are going to come back ready to do amazing things, with brains so much more ready to be…

Nothing has changed, really, except there is less of me left.

Maybe this is winter; is this winter, maybe. Maybe almost a year of so many of the same day, doing less and less and feeling more and more tired. It is dark in winter in a way that squeezes the air out.

I find a lot of my energy being spent on dissonance; the push and pull between trying to feel normal and experiencing all that isn’t. I spend a lot of my time on distraction. …

White people, we promised we’d do better.

At the end of May of 2020, George Floyd was murdered. Bystanders watched Floyd slowly murdered because it was illegal for them to stop it; would be punishable to try. Many of us watched the footage, were outraged at the footage, decided that this was the moment after which it would be different.

White people, we promised it was time.

But watch our Whiteness work.

Watch how quickly we go from posting black squares on our profiles to saying “I believe that black lives matter, but not in Black Lives Matter,” how quickly…

Most of this year never happened. A whole year of whispers slipping between our fingers, nearly a whole year missed.

I missed coffee shops. I missed taking a book to a bar on a Friday afternoon, sitting alone through two beers and four chapters. I missed friends coming over, their weird kids running around outside or downstairs with my weird kid while we talk like adults less and less ironically, standing, always, in the kitchen and leaving all the soft furniture empty. …

Thomas Rademacher

Author of ‘It Won’t Be Easy.’ 2014 Minnesota Teacher of the Year. @mrtomrad on everything. www.mrtomrad.com

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