Settling into Summer: Simple Suggestions to Take the Break You Deserve

This post is for the teachers who can’t turn it off. For the educators who long for summer and then don’t know what to do with ourselves once we get here. For the realists who know it will end all too soon. For the battle-weary who are almost too tired to enjoy it. For those who end the school year, just to jump into more and more work without so much as a nap. You are not alone. Remember, you too are entitled to a break. 


Looking back at my summer posts from the past few years, it would seem that I have a problem. It’s a problem that 97% of Americans would likely sneer at, as summer vacation doesn’t readily suggest problem to the general public. It is, after all, weeks of freedom from work. The option to spend the day in yoga pants. Daytime television access that few get to enjoy (if that’s the right word). An opportunity for extended relaxation reserved for educators who share their very souls for roughly 180 days, plus weekends.

Every year, as summer approaches, I suggest to my colleagues that it doesn’t feel real. Maybe it’s the habit of nine months of all encompassing giving. Perhaps it’s the bone-Rest-Relaxationtired confusion of early June. Maybe it just seems too good to be true, but either way, we wake up one fine morning and school is over. Disbelief likely continues. A bit more guarded excitement bubbles up. Then, because we are hardwired to keep pushing forward at all costs,  we dutifully race into vacation (with a fevered pitch eerily reminiscent of the one we used to make it through the final crazy weeks of the school year) and look around wide-eyed wondering where to start. Having dragged ourselves across the finish line, heads down but thumbs up in our classroom community successes, we snap to once again to “get this summer thing underway.”

If you are anything like me, this frenzied shift in daily responsibility quickly manifests itself in lists. The to-do lists that instantly stretch out five country miles and look strikingly similar to the lists created for the endless responsibilities of work, but pay no attention! Get moving!

No wonder I don’t feel like I’m on vacation…I could fill every minute with need instead of want and find myself in mid-August with a cleaner house, every health related appointment scheduled and managed, minimalist ambitions catalogued and embattled against my concurring desire to shop, habitual Twitter monitoring accomplished in order to continue professional development, email checking to assist students with summer work and stay on top of administrative requests, and end up just as fatigued as I was on the last day of classes, and maybe sunburned too boot.

Don’t get me wrong, the entire summer can’t be spent on want over need. We are adults and there are responsibilities to attend to year round. However, I think what I quickly forget, or habitually ignore, is that based on the taxation of careers, most professionals do in fact take vacations.

What was that again?

Professionals take vacations.

Now, to be honest, I typed that twice, and made it gigantic once, to make myself believe it, because I think I’m terrible at heeding my own insights. When I try to relax, my brain runs on guilt-ridden overdrive: There is so much to be done! There was no time before, and nothing but time now! Fill it up! MAKE something of today! List, list, LIST! 

Welcome to my brain. Don’t stay too long, you may develop anxiety.

Thankfully, this post is helping me process, and here is the insight this therapeutic writing has directed me to: If I don’t figure this out, everyone is going to suffer.

Sunshine and rainbows today, aren’t I? But it’s true. If I don’t shut off my teacher brain, so valuable during the school year to keep me on top of the 5.2 million divergent tasks we tackle in a day, I’m going to suffer during a time I should be recharging. My family is going to suffer because I’ll still be stressed out. My future students will suffer because I won’t get my mojo back to start the year with rested enthusiasm and rejuvenated vigor.

In a few short weeks it will be July 4th, strange psychological turning point for my own summer, so it bears repeating that I need to give myself an actual break. You need to give yourself an actual break. Unplug, get lost, be silly, tune in to your hobbies, hold tight to your passions, reconnect with your own children, have ice cream for dinner, and stay up until 2:00 A.M. reading.

I read once that if you’re sad, you should stand before a mirror and smile at your reflection until you feel happier. Scientifically speaking, your mood will in fact improve, and the smiling will have helped to change your trajectory. Perhaps it’s the same with summer. Do more and more summer everyday, and you’ll get yourself into that habit. More pool lounging, campfire sitting, lemonade sipping fun. Additionally, might I suggest:

  1. Be aware of your drive to keep pushing, and actively work to put the brakes on. Make yourself take a day away. Then two. Perhaps a week or two without work. You’ve got the time, so make the conscious choice to use it and appreciate it. As I rockssuggested to myself and to you last year (when will I ever take my own advice?!) – Remain Calm.
  2. If you must work, as most of us do, treat yourself in small ways. Try not to let the work consume your whole day, or peel away your sun-soaked attitude. Whether it be your casual attire, a shot of flavor in your traditionally black coffee, and/or the guilty-pleasure read you put in your bag to fill mandatory breaks along the way, remember that you get to enjoy these days too because you’ve worked hard to earn them.
  3. If your summer break involves a good deal of work beyond your teaching career, as some of us legitimately need to additional employment over the summer to make ends meet (but that’s a whole other post), try and make small breaks mean more. Completely unplug for a day or take a drive on your own with your journal and spend one day exploring, writing, reading, thinking. Whenever possible, be mindful of the mental and physical breaks you still desperately need after a year in the trenches, and ask for the help from friends, family, and neighbors to get it. It takes a village!
  4. Put a little bit of you into every single day. Take the time to read what your heart desires. Take the time to write for you. Take the time to sleep. Heaven knows that school does not afford much time for napping, once we get rolling again, so employ the summer catnap early and often.
  5. Embrace a little transcendentalism. If you have work to do, try and do it outside. If you are insistent on perfecting your educational practice and/or yoga moves (yes, I stumbled upon a guided script on yoga for teachers…enjoy), connect with nature while you’re doing. Better yet, keep in mind – Thoreau would want you to remember that the nature of our reality is governed by experience. The more you get out and do, as opposed to list, ruminate over, or worry about, the better off that reality will be…just make sure you reflect carefully on your experiences in a small cabin located next to a quiet body of water.

Summer is a gift. Lift your foot off the accelerator for a bit and look around at what you might not notice if you don’t take the time to refuel. You deserve this break. Make it a priority to enjoy it just as much as you use it.


Lisa Dennis teaches English and leads a department of incredible English educators at Franklin High School near Milwaukee. This summer, she’s hoping her new bullet journal is going to assist her in her pursuits to relax. She sees the irony in this and is also ironically powerless to stop it. Follow Lisa on Twitter @LDennibaum 

 

 

 

3TT Best of the 17-18 School Year: Five Ways to Publicly Celebrate Student Reading

See true beautyBack in February, Julie Swinehart blew up the blog with a blockbuster post that celebrates student reading in beautifully public ways. While our book talks,  writers notebook reading lists, and a plethora of other practices make reading lives central to our work, celebrations of success stir up excitement around that work that can be deliciously contagious. So, scroll through and get excited about some ways we can help students spread their reading success all over our classrooms next year.


Once our students start reading, start setting personalized goals, and start to develop healthy reading lives, it’s important to acknowledge their progress. Big, culminating classroom celebrations are a fun way to do it, but there are also ways to celebrate that don’t take a ton of precious class time, and can mark the smaller moments worth celebrating along the way.

1. Penny Kittle encourages the book stack. Students gather the books they’ve read over the last semester, quarter, or other period of time that they’ve been reading. They stack the books up, which gives a visual representation of what they’ve accomplished with their reading. My ninth grade students recently did the book stack, and their smiles and pride were inspiring.

 

  1. While some students loved the book stacks, I had a couple of students who had done much of their reading on e-readers, so the book stack wasn’t such a great option for them. Our solution was the digital collage. Students gathered images of their book covers and collected them on a document, creating a digital quilt or collage. They then printed them on our color printer, and we made a patchwork mural in the hall with them.

 

This visual representation celebrates not only what individual students have been reading, but also serves as a hallway meeting place and inspiration for conversation about books. It’s a great way to build a reading community.

  1. Our learning support teacher encourages her readers with a creative, ongoing visual representation. She has a paper “tree” on a wall in her classroom, and as students read books, they add “leaves” to the tree. On each “leaf” the students write the title and author of the books, and it serves as both a reminder and inspiration for future reading. IMG_61004. That same teacher also keeps a quote wall on her white board. The words we read can reach us in beautiful ways, and when students experience that kind of moment, they are encouraged to share those lines on the white board. It’s another public display of a healthy reading life. It’s a conversation starter, and it helps build a sense of community within the classroom.

 

quote-wall.png5. Another teacher in our department keeps poster paper on her walls. Students add titles to the lists as they complete their books. Because names are attached, students can reach out to one another with questions or when they want to talk to each other about a book that they read, too. It’s another public acknowledgment and conversation starter, which is part of what we need when we build reading communities.

Books Read room 225

The common thread with all of these ideas is that they are public, they are deliberate conversation starters, and they help to build our precious reading communities.

 

I think it’s important to create opportunities for students to celebrate their reading accomplishments in a risk-free, nonthreatening way. Time is precious, so creating these opportunities in a relatively quick way within our classroom communities can be found time. Our classroom walls should reflect the needs and values of our classroom communities, and I find that these five strategies help move students forward with the development of their healthy reading lives.

How do you enable and encourage your students to publicly celebrate their reading lives and reading communities? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Julie has been teaching secondary language arts for nineteen years, spending the first fifteen in rural Central Oregon, and the last four in Amman, Jordan. She’s thrilled to report that she and her family will be moving across the agua to Managua, Nicaragua next year, where a new adventure will begin.

Follow her on twitter @SwinehartJulie

Follow her blog https://adventuresinhighschoolworkshop.wordpress.com/

Career Changers!!!

Looking back at the big forks in the roads of our lives is something we all do.  We lament decisions unmade or decry decisions we didn’t even get a chance to make.  The ones made for us can be the hardest to accept, but others can be the best that ever happened to us.

As a second year teacher, my principal decided I was up next in the push to train our teachers in the theories espoused by Flip Flippen in Capturing Kids’ Hearts. This overnight, professional learning opportunity in Round Top, TX changed the course of my career.  I’m sure I didn’t live this creed to it’s fullest potential in those first years, but the lessons make more and more sense as I grow older both in age and experience.

Flash forward fourteen years and zoom in as we finish up week two of the second cohort of the CCISD Reader’s/Writer’s Institute.  This work is as powerful as anything I’ve ever done, and will be as long lasting.

I get the chance to meet people around our district who travel the same path that I do. Whether it’s the department heads, instructional coaches,  or teachers from other schools, I’m learning something new every day.  The Teacher of the Year from Clear Brook high school is my co-teacher!!!! Where else would I get this opportunity???!!!

I get to work with Amy and feel her passion for giving kids the best possible chance to learn and grow. She brings energy and heart to our meetings every morning and has, again, taught me to look at this work from different angles and given me tools to take into my new classroom.

I get to glimpse the vision that our curriculum director, Billy Eastman, has for the teachers and students in our schools. His vision blends reading and writing with thinking in a way that will challenge our kids to look beyond themselves, but also into themselves, to explore the concept of humanity.

I get to read and write with teachers at the school I’m moving into in August. They are amazing people first, but amazing teachers as well.  I can’t wait to continue our work together next year at Creek.

What else can I do to help myself be ready to take a huge leap next year?  What new tricks can this old dog learn?

Charles Moore is excited to continue his education at almost 40 at The University of Houston.  He still believes that face-to-face meetings are better than email exchanges and he’s spent 1,500 of his 2,000 Book Love Dollars and is looking for suggestions.  Please email him at mooreliteracy1@gmail.com if you want to visit or check out his embarrassing instapoems at @mooreliteracy1 on Instagram.

Summer Time Writing Inspiration

Up here in Canada, we are not quite on summer vacation like many of my colleagues to the south, but we are firmly at that time of year where our minds are more in the next school year than the current one. As we are invigilating our year end exams and saying goodbye to our Grade 12 students, the minds of myself and many of my colleagues are already turned to planning for the next group of students we will be working with in the fall.

While an important part of summer is taking the time to relax, recharge, and delve into my growing pile of guilty pleasure books for reading, I always look forward to the time summer gives me to catch up on my professional reading.

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The Creativity Project – complete with a barcode from my school library!

One such resource that I am so excited to delve into over summer break is The Creativity Project written by Colby Sharp. Colby Sharp may be a familiar name to those of us who have embraced the works of Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild in our classroom practice as he is, among many of his other amazing contributions to the world of education, one of the co-bloggers on the Nerdy Book Club blog.

What has me so excited about this resource is that it combines two of my favourite things and two of the most magical elements of a creative writing class – exciting writing prompts and engaging mentor texts.

In The Creativity Project, Colby Sharp reached out to some of the best authors in the juvenile fiction and YA world – the ones our students are loving and reading- and asked them to create a writing prompt for his book. Contributors to his project include authors such as Kate DiCamillo, Mariko Tamaki, and Lemony Snicket to name just a few. He then shared the prompt of one author with another author and had them write a piece inspired by the prompt for the book. The end result is a book not only chock full of prompts, but also with mentor text gold. After the prompts themselves, the author who created the prompt provides a brief explanation for their inspiration for their prompt, which provides a lovely window into where authors get their inspiration from. The responses to the prompts are honest and raw, humorous and hilarious. There are short stories, poems, and graphic novel panels. What is most wonderful of all is the fact that the pieces are not the final polished pieces, rather they are evidence of published authors engaging in the very tasks we ask our students to do – take a prompt, run with it, and see where it takes you. For another great post on writing prompts, check this one out.

This summer I am hoping to use the Creativity Project to rekindle my own creativity and to use the prompts to get writing again. If I am feeling particularly brave in my next summer blog post, maybe I will share something I have written with you. The next school year, I am excited to see how this book can be used to inspire my students to write.

Pam McMartin is jealously reading the blog posts of her colleagues already on summer break and dreaming of the summer sun, which has been rather absent lately at her school just outside of rainy Vancouver, British Columbia. Her summer plans involve enjoying letting go of the daily schedule, slowing down and enjoying time with her family, and hopefully writing on prompt after prompt from Colby Sharp’s book. Find Pam on Twitter @psmcmartin.

Can’t Turn Off the Teacher

It’s finally summer break! That wonderful time of year when I can shut my brain off entirely–no reading, no writing, no thinking.

That’s the goal, anyway. What ends up happening is a week of mindless Netflix binges (this year it’s Suits, because I want to see Meghan Markle pre-princess), romance novel reads, a few days at the beach, a few household projects tackled.

Then it’s right back into teacher mode, even when I don’t want it to be.

Listening to a podcast? Oh, sounds like a great format for conferring. Texting with my family about a book? Oh, what a great genre for a literary autobiography. Selling a car on Craigslist? Oh, what a great authentic writing piece for my high school students. And the list goes on:

I can’t seem to turn off my teacher brain, even when I crave the break from the school year summer provides.

Image result for when daniel pinkI grapple with this every summer. As a new teacher, I tried to make myself take the whole summer off from thinking about teaching, feeling like I was doing something wrong when I started doodling writing units or reading activity ideas. Later in my career I felt satisfied if I could turn off my teacher brain for just the month of June, and get back into the swing of things starting July 1.

We all need breaks. Daniel Pink’s latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, reminded me of that. He gives some background on the effectiveness and helpfulness of “vigilance breaks” and “restorative breaks,” the latter of which are taken to help sharpen our mental acuity after too much thinking and focus around one task. Without breaks, we lose motivation, make more mistakes, and work less efficiently.

Teachers, you deserve a break.

You need a break.

But if you’re like me, and you just can’t turn off the teacher–that’s okay too. It’s okay to read a book as both a reader and a writer. It’s okay to buy a frozen pizza as a mentor text for the make-your-own-pizza kit you buy to make with your two-year-old. It’s okay that when you say “I love you” to said two-year-old, and she says, “okay,” back, that you think of The Fault in Our Stars and know that she means “I love you too.”

This summer, I hope you’ll find balance as you sink into your off-duty teacher self: taking classes, scrolling Twitter, reading and writing at a pace without deadlines. I hope you’ll embrace the fact that even outside the school year, you can’t turn off the teacher.

Shana Karnes is spending her last summer in West Virginia exploring the wild and wonderful state, taking her kids to various WV landmarks, enjoying the mountains and history. She’s tackling all the projects she totally neglected during the school year–one of which is doing some writing for herself…even though that writing usually winds back around to teaching topics. Find Shana on Twitter @litreader.

Thinking About Next Year – Already?

black and white blackboard business chalkboard

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Confession: I really struggled with where to take this blog post. I was worried that the onset of summer would bring fewer ideas or less will to write. Instead, I’m starting week three of my break, and my teacher brain hasn’t shut off once. I have too many zipping thoughts percolating upstairs to just focus on one. I’m constantly jotting down ideas for next year. I find my friends zoning out as I bring conversations (sometimes gracefully, oftentimes not) back to my new plans for next year. My TBR list is full of books about teaching (Teaching Argument, anyone?). I’ve jammed my summer schedule full of teaching activities: working with the College, Career and Community Writers Program; attending the AP English Language Reading, AP English Literature training, and summer AP PLC meetings (fondly called AP Allies). The list goes on and on. I might be obsessed with my job.

Confession: That obsession wasn’t always the case. The 2014-2015 school year almost did me in. Long hours, too many responsibilities, too few ‘wins,’ and an overwhelming certainty that I was both doing too much and not enough at the same time had me considering other kinds of employment. The kinds where you can go home at the end of the day and just be home. The kinds that don’t have you bringing home stacks and stacks of papers to grade, that don’t have you dumping hours of planning time into the job, the kinds that allow you to leave the problems of work at work. I’m not a quitter, and I came dangerously close to quitting the profession. I know that I’m not the only one who’s ever felt this way.

Enter the Middle Tennessee Writing Project. Recommended by a fellow teacher, this program rejuvenated my love for teaching, changed the way I approach the profession, reminded me of why I love the calling. We were required to choose from a list of best practices (I chose student agency) and work on improving that aspect of our craft for an entire year. Having just one overarching goal to focus on made the  upcoming year so much more approachable, made measuring any growth I achieved so much easier to ascertain. Focusing on student agency put the students front and center in my classroom again, right where they belong.

In the years since, I’ve continued to work on improving just one best practice every year. Instead of splitting my 100% between various small projects and doing a lot of tasks decently, I try really hard to do one task really well (I’m paraphrasing Ron Swanson here…). I’ve worked on incorporating more writing workshop in my AP classes and offering better feedback.

This year, inspired by the slowchat #DisruptTexts, my PLC is moving away from the whole class novel and implementing more independent reading choice. While brainstorming how this change would affect our writers notebooks and socratic seminar discussion schedule, we came to a few practical realizations:

  1. Modeled after AP argument questions, our essential questions are fairly broad, allowing students can take the questions in lots of different places. This broadness means that we need to spend some time teaching students how to break down each questions into all of its parts and permutations before they can begin to answer the question. This approach models what students are expected to do with each argument question (and to some extent synthesis questions as well).
  2. To address this broadness, we’re building in “intro days” where we spend a short 45 minute period breaking down the question into all of its parts: stakeholders, universal nouns/themes, “so whats,” other questions, connections to the real world, places along the argument spectrum. All essential pieces to consider before beginning to answer the question. We want to demonstrate in our teaching the value of listening, thinking, and planning before speaking, writing, answering.
  3. To highlight each beginning “intro day” for each unit, we plan on giving students colored paper to insert into their writers notebooks and ask them to do their notetaking/brainstorming for that question on that piece of paper. The colored paper will cause each beginning of the unit to stand out in their notebook, clearly separating each unit from other units.
  4. We plan on ending each unit with a socratic seminar and an in class writing – an assessment pairing that will pull together all the rabbit trails and threads we’ve chased throughout the unit. Honestly, we have no idea where these units will go yet. Hopefully, into deeper and deeper questioning and thinking, so we need some way to track the journey. We’ll ask students to collect their final noticings, observations, and remaining questions on another similar colored sheet of paper in their writers notebooks, giving the unit a clear, visual beginning and end.
  5. As we’re introducing choice into student reading and moving away from the whole class novel, we’re asking that students work with a classic American novel, a work of fiction, a podcast, a documentary, and a book of their choice at least once throughout the year. Helping students choose selections will undoubtedly present its own unique problems, but we’re expecting that students will work closely with our amazing librarians, book talk their books in small groups and with the whole group. After each unit, we will ask students to include their book on a class wide google document organized by question, with each selection tagged with universal nouns/themes and a short review. Hopefully this will help other students choose future selections while also crowdsourcing a “if you like this, you might like this” text.
  6. We’re supplementing those independent reading selections with lots of smaller mentor texts. Because we’ll have more room for smaller texts for in-class discussions and the small texts sometimes get lost in the shuffle of the year, we’re going to ask students to create and keep a bibliography for each small text in the beginning of their writers notebooks. They’ll provide the citation for each smaller work and answer two small questions for each entry:What is useful about this text for rhetorical skills/writing? What universal nouns/themes/real world events does this text connect to? Hopefully, this will give students more practical knowledge to pull from for the synthesis/argument questions of the AP test and a way to organize their mentor texts.
  7. Finally, we need to model and practice on a smaller scale what we expect students to do throughout the year with these essential questions and independent reading choices. We can’t just toss kids into the deep end of our new approach to English. So, at the beginning of each semester, we will pose a smaller question and have students go through each step with more in-class support. We will use these smaller questions to teach independent reading selection and question brainstorming while substituting novels, podcast series and documentaries with essays, short stories, and individual podcast episodes.

MTWP’s insistence on best practices and focusing on one improvement a year was a game changer for me. This post is a very small glimpse into what those changes will look like for my classroom. And, to be honest, I feel a little bit like Tantor stepping into the river, but I’m ready to take the plunge. I imagine that if you’re reading this blog on your summer break, you, too, find it hard to turn off your teacher brain even on breaks. As you continue to plan for next year, my wish for you is rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. But… if you, like me, can’t turn your brain off and you want to share, the comments and Twitter are open. We can tiptoe into that water together.

 

Sarah Morris teaches AP Language & Composition and Film as Literature in Murfreesboro, Tn. She has been binge watching The Wire and wishes she hadn’t waited this long to start the show.  She tweets at @marahsorris_cms. Happily posting from the AP Reading in Tampa, Fl.

 

3TT Best of the 17-18 School Year: A Houston Teacher’s Heart

See true beautyPublished on August 29th of this school year, this post from Charles Moore struck a serious chord with readers. A beautiful reflection on how difficult circumstances demand we love our students all the more, especially early in the school year, this post is the second all-time most viewed of any post on Three Teachers Talk, second only to the home page itself. Little did we know just how many posts this year would deal with our ever-growing need to build relationships with our students in the face of life-threatening adversity. In terms of building community in his classroom, Charles wrote just a few days ago, “I would guess that I had a 97% success rate of telling each class that I loved them as the bell rang to release them to their next class.  Next year = 100%.” Thank you for your heart, Charles. You are amazing. 


What do you do when a hurricane slams you in the face after four days of school?Clear Creek ISD June 2017 (1)

This was the best first 4 days of school I’d ever had. Tuesday saw us independent reading with self-selected books for the first 10 minutes of class. A habit we will cherish through June. We were moving in and out of our notebooks by Wednesday. Groups were discussing and reporting their thoughts back to the whole class. A community was rising in all four of my senior English classes. My inclusion para-professional and I had worked through the mountain of paperwork and conferred about this student and that one. I had plans to video a class for a whole week to use for who knows what. Who could believe that senior English students could move so far so fast. Our potential was limitless.

My district sent out a message Thursday evening that school would be cancelled on Friday. Some coaches met up at school that evening to stow away hurdles, high jump mats, and benches. We lamented our missed football scrimmage and wondered when we would resume school.

The hurricane projections said it would hit hundreds of miles away and would only be a category 3. We knew the “dirty side” of a hurricane was not a fun place to live, but a few days of rain and maybe a little wind was all I mentally prepared for.

Friday, I went to school to grab my laptop and a couple of teacher books so I could finish my lesson plans, review the game plan for next week’s game against Pearland, and whatever else needed attention. Having been through hurricanes and heavy rain before, I thought maybe we would go back to school on Tuesday at the latest.

Our football staff has a group text that is mostly silly memes and rude jokes. Now it reads like a timeline of the storm.

As I look back on the text threads, there is a definite change in tone on Friday evening when the rain started. We went from making fun of each other to being seriously concerned for one another. The rain fell Friday night but none of us had water in our houses or were flooded in. I even got out of the house to drive around on Saturday. I went to the grocery store for eggs and drove around a bit to see what was what. We spent the day planning for our week one football game and watched the news as the storm worked its way closer.

Saturday night was when it started getting scary. A flood, a deluge of water fell on our city. My wife and I didn’t sleep. It was one of the scariest most nerve-wracking nights of my life. 15 inches of rain fell in 3 hours and we were constantly up and down watching the water levels in the street rise and making sure our flooded pool wasn’t about to merge with our kitchen. The coaches’ group chat filled with pictures of rising water and reports from all over south and west Houston. I’m sure we are all too macho to admit it, but we felt that fear collectively and it was a relief for us to know that we weren’t alone in this storm.

When the sun rose on Sunday, my house was still dry and the electricity was on. Others weren’t so lucky. Neighborhoods within a quarter mile of my house were completely flooded out and many of our students don’t have a home to go back to anymore. I’m sure you saw reports on TV of water rescues happening in League City. Those are our kids. I see those families at parent night and sub varsity football games. We shop at the same grocery store and order pizza from the same place. My twitter feed filled with images from our community of families who were rescued in boats and won’t see their houses for weeks.flood

Despite the destruction we endured this weekend, I can’t help but think toward the future. It will take some time, but the flood waters will abate and the roads will clear. At some point, we will reopen our schools. We will ask the students and teachers to come back and the process of building will resume.

Even those whose houses didn’t flood will bear the scars of this terrifying natural disaster. And those whose houses did flood will be consumed by it.

Where will that process even begin? What will I say to them? What can I reasonably expect them to produce?

I have no idea how to answer most of these questions. All I know is that I’m going to tell them that I love them over and over. My classroom will be a refuge from the aftermath of the storms. We can be safe together. We can write about our pain and share our fears. My Student Council class will work to bring some normalcy back to people’s lives whether through food drives, donations, or lending a hand to those who need it. I’m going to give my linebackers the biggest hugs they’ve ever gotten and I’m going to tell those boys, who think they are men, that I love them.

Harvey’s footprint will always be seen on this school year for these students and teachers.

Maybe we can learn about survival and community and love. I think my classroom is the perfect place for those lessons. I hope I’m up to it.

Charles Moore is the senior English team lead at Clear Springs High School in League City, TX. He enjoys leisure swimming, reading, and coaching linebackers. Follow Charles on Twitter @ctcoach

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