Changes, Hopes, and Feathers

Change is constant.  Especially the last two years as a teacher. I don’t want to dwell on the past today, but look forward to the future.


Photo by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash

There’s a part of me that wants to tell all about the stuff that happened last school year though.  I want someone else to be outraged for me, to know I was in the right.  But what does that really prove?

Part of the awful stress of last year was my school district with awful mandates.  Part of it was a lack of leadership and a personality conflict.  But I fear I might have been part of the problem too.

All the anger from the first year of the Pandemic changed me.  It made me start to speak up much more vocally than I ever had before and for that, I saw repercussions.  I saw the writing on the wall last fall and knew I couldn’t stay at the school I had taught at for 11 years.  I loved my coworkers like family and I loved the kids and families I had gotten to know there.  But it was obvious to me that my time there was at an end, especially with the way everything boiled down.

I couldn’t do anything right, though I was doing everything demanded of me.  I almost quit teaching all together, numerous times.  In the end, they wanted to take away the only things I have managed to find joy in at school in the last few years: watching 1st graders learn to read and sharing my love of picture books with them, by moving me to 4th grade (a grade so out of my realm of experience AND a grade used as a punishment for teachers in this school that the administration wanted to get rid of).

I don’t want to go into details because it will only make me relive it.  I have cried enough tears of loss, pain, regret, and frustration over all those experiences all of the last school year.  I’ve already had PTSD stress dreams all summer long this year as well and I do NOT want to revive those.  Instead, let me tell you about my hopes for the future and what I did.

I transferred to another school.  I will be teaching 1st grade across town in a new classroom with a lot of other new staff.  I won’t know hardly anyone there, but I’m eager to try and find my joy again.  I have no idea about any school routine at all, so this will be a bit of a learning curve this year too.  BUT I’m prepared to learn.

I’m writing this after I’ve already been into my classroom to work (with my hubby’s help) on cleaning out, unpacking, and starting to sort everything out in my new classroom for a week and a half.  I’ve already taken a break from that for my birthday/anniversary and the upcoming SCBWI summer conference (which 1will already have happened by the time this posts).  I’ve scheduled this to post on my first official day back at school.  Why?  Well I’m reminded of one of my favorite poems by Emily Dickinson: “Hope” is the thing with feathers.

I’m really hoping this school year goes SO much better than the last two years have.  I’m hoping to find joys of all sorts this year.  I’m trying to give myself and others around me grace, but I’m hoping for better.  So I will focus on hope.

And as I think about those feathers, I’m reminded of the painting I made this year my hubby for our annual anniversary gift (it’s become my little tradition).  We love watching the little song birds here and some of our favorites are chickadees and red-breasted nuthatches.  The 2nuthatches were the first ones we would watch together at the bird feeder outside our living room window when we first got married.  And we would marvel at all the ways they would hang upside down to grab seeds.

I researched about their nests, as I’d never seen one before, and marveled again. Nuthatches dig nests in old trees, which are softer, like a woodpecker (I never would have thought that such a tiny bird with a little beak could do that!).  Then they surround the entrance with sap (they think it’s to keep out bugs).   I found this fun little video while researching if you’d like to learn more about them.

And so, I want to end this entry with the poem and some of the process pictures of my painting (you can see the final product in the frame on my Insta, if you want).

3“Hope” is the thing with feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
Dear readers, I hope that you too have hope for a brighter future and will find many new joys in the months ahead.  And if you read this far, thank you.  Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and hear my heart.  I finally watched TED LASSO recently and I feel like taping up a “Believe” sign as well.  I believe that things will get better.  Here’s hoping, anyway.

4 thoughts on “Changes, Hopes, and Feathers

  1. Thanks for sharing, Jena! I’m sorry for your difficult experiences. I’m so glad that you have a fresh start and are focusing on hope! LOVE your birds! Best wishes, blessings, and prayers for a wonderful year!

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