I — like many of us — would like to leave the past year firmly behind in a drawer, never to be opened again.
However, in education, we know that the most durable learning — that is, learning that is long lasting and easily applied to new situations — is often the learning that comes with challenges.
An element of frustration is involved. It is just enough to challenge the students without overwhelming them.
2020 was a year of deep learning for many of us. Mostly out of force. For some of us, out of tragedy. However we acquired it, it would be a disservice to shed our insights completely as we start the New Year.
So I am taking two things with me. That’s it. No more. Two things. In a very minimalist clutch.
Here they are.
We are far stronger than we think.
I mean this psychologically, physically, and spiritually.
I have been astounded at the strength that we have.
If you would’ve told me in January of 2020 even a small glimpse at what I had to endure this year, I would’ve been like, That is one hundred percent impossible.
But here I am. Still standing.
Here we are. Still standing.
I am standing in awe of the strength of women and of moms.
I have watched as grassroot organizations led by moms have formed in my province to protest the government’s inadequate response to COVID.
I have watched moms dominate the political discussion here in Alberta on social media and in the news, gaining followers and influence as they continue to advocate for the needs of our community, our schools, our healthcare workers, and our children.
Many of us, as working moms, had to show strength out of necessity.
We didn’t want to work at home, with no support. Balancing our children in our laps while on zoom meetings. We didn’t want to petition, to organize, to rally, to protest, to post, or to write.
But we did.
This strength is something that we should have an immense sense of pride in.
We should not downplay it.
We should not diminish it.
It is something we should stand in.
It is something I am taking with me.
In art, colours opposite of each other on the colour wheel are termed complementary colours.
For example, red and green are complementary colours.
Blue and orange.
And when the two colours are laid next to each other on the canvas, the stark differences in their pigment highlight each other.
They fight equally for your attention.
For example, a bold red brustroke on a canvas full of orange and violet hues would blend in. But the same red colour placed next to green would be highlighted. Both colours would contrast each other and fight for your attention.
That is how beauty was this year — in stark contrast to the monstrosities of the year.
There were moments in time that almost seemed to be surreal — like they happened in slow motion or underwater — that I’m keeping close to my heart.
Like the afternoon that I was listening to the hourly news. It was a full report of the latest increase in cases, the hospitalizations, and the deaths.
And then I look at my kitchen table.
My two children are colouring next to each other. Light shines in from the south window illuminating my son’s face deep in concentration. Suddenly I am in a beautiful moment of health and serenity.
Or the bleak November day I was pushing my children on the swings. It was right around the US presidential elections. I looked at the grey sky, and thought, How are we going to make it through this?
And then I hear the beauty of my daughter’s laughter.
Red and green.
The stark beauty of 2020.
This is beauty that in happier, busier times, perhaps I would overlook. I would be too busy rushing off to work or heading out to meet a friend for wine to stop and notice. But this year, I had the time.
And when I took the time to notice it, the beauty was spectacular.
So that’s it. I’m taking with me — strength and beauty.
Pretty much everything else can stay behind. Buried in a drawer…
As I tentatively look ahead with cautious optimism, I ask you — what are you taking with you? (And if you are blocking out the entire dang year, no judgement here.)
What do you want to take with you into 2021?
Lisa Bush is a writer, educator, and author of the book Teaching Well: How healthy, empowered teachers lead to thriving, successful classrooms. She is the creator of the Working Mom Wellness Podcast.