I carry my CCSD identification badge and the tracking device contained therein. I carry my keys, guaranteed entrance to most doors in our school, except those most in need of opening.
I carry the burden of expectation, the anxiety borne of the worst kind of perfectionism–the feeling that you are forever letting other people down. I carry the endless list of questions: Am I a good teacher? Am I good enough to make this meaningful? If I cannot make it meaningful to students, does it matter that it matters to me? Have I picked the wrong job in the wrong era? Should I have said something to that student? Should I have said something different? Does that student who makes no eye contact want me to say hello, is she just introverted, or does she hate me? What have I done to give her reason to hate me? Will I be fired if I tell this kid to shut the **** up? Am I being subtweeted?
I carry pain in my back, the dormant remnants of an optical nerve sheath meningioma behind my left eye socket, the worrisome twinges of aging.
I carry the gnawing pangs of hunger throughout the school day. Sometimes for food, always for meaning.
I carry my conscience, the vestiges of Catholic guilt, my sense of professional decorum. I carry a tie around my neck, a visible symbol of the weight of my father’s influence.
I carry pens and notecards, physical reminders that digital technology will not save us. I carry my laptop, encased in green, acknowledging our digital overlords. I carry the permanently on-call feeling technology in education has bestowed upon educators and students alike, a world where it has never been easier to learn but never harder to find time to process any learning.
I carry you and your learning and your humanity and your needs and your dreams and your fears. And I carry the growing awareness that no one can carry all that our society now expects teachers and students to carry.
I carry my frustrations that we have lost sight of learning and replaced it with grades, class rank, and the repugnant smudge of standardized test scores.
I carry what the Navajo poet Luci Tapahonso wrote:
“an undercurrent of fear,
an outpouring of love,
a whispered chant of loneliness.”