One breath, one day at a time

One breath, one day at a time

One breath, one day at a time
  • Mail
  • Share
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
Here we are going into our 3rd week of social distancing in Oregon. Each day continues to be full of uncertainty. Each of us in our own way has to navigate the challenges presented to us, challenges that keep changing and evolving with each passing day.  As I’ve reached out to colleagues, teachers and parents offering my support and listening, I’ve heard such a wide range of what daily life and decision making looks like for each and everyone of them. What to do? I’ve been following my older sister’s recent advice from her walks near her hometown below.

“One breath, one day at a time.”


My older sister is a labor and delivery nurse. Her hospital has been designated the site for all Covid-19 patients in Southern Oregon.  Everyday when she arrives at the hospital for her shift there are new directives, new rumours and, of course, mothers in labor. All the rules have changed and keep changing. She isn’t given protective gear by her hospital because according to them she isn’t working with “sick patients”.  She then returns home to her own family fearing that she may be exposing them day in and day out. Feeling drained, worried and as if the task being asked is near impossible.

My younger sister, who works full time from home, has a 3 year old and 7 month old. Now, her husband also works full time at home.  Their task also is near impossible; work full time, care for their young children, feed and take care of their hearts and souls amidst the stress of the pandemic while, at the same time, trying to work enough so as not to get laid off.  ​

A high school teacher I know told me how she’s been texting with some of her students, as the only reliable online access they have is through their phones with limited data plans.  A few of them shared that they can’t do any online learning as they are busy babysitting younger siblings so their parents can still report to their jobs as essential workers.  Still others of her students she knows live out of their cars or in small apartments with large extended families. Not ideal circumstances for distance learning.

A PreK teacher shared that the parents of her students were reaching out asking for worksheets for their 3-5 year olds. She felt frustrated and confused that, after a year of exposing their children to hands-on inquiry based learning, they would feel the need for worksheets.  She knows that worksheets for preschoolers are not developmentally appropriate; she knows that limited screen time is essential to developing brains; and at the same time parents need work for their children to do that will keep them busy. These parents are asking for help so that they can do their own work from home in order to feed their children and help them feel safe. This teacher knows what an essential role schools play in the functioning of our communities!

PictureWhat to do?  What can each of us do in this remarkably new world we are living in each day? I find myself searching for support and guidance. I find it difficult to sit with uncertainty and to live with these questions right now. 


I have turned toward inspirational thinkers who lived through challenging times to help me think best about how to support educators.  One of those thinkers is Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. It was the actions of the grandparents and mothers of Reggio Emilia who built that first school out of the rubble of World War II.  It was the creation of that school that led Loris Malaguzzi to join them in imagining a new future through a new approach to education and caring for children. Their community had no choice but to build a school so that the mothers could get to work and lives could go on.
Read more about the story of Reggio Emilia here.
In reflection of his experience, Loris writes, “School can never be always predictable. We need to be open to what takes place and able to change our plans and go with what might grow at that very moment both inside the child and inside ourselves… Life has to be somewhat agitated and upset, a bit restless, somewhat unknown… we need to be open, we need to change our ideas; we need to be comfortable with the restless nature of life. All of this changes the role of the teacher, a role that becomes much more difficult and complex. It also makes the world of the teacher more beautiful, something to become involved in.



All of this is a great forest… The forest is beautiful, fascinating, green, and full of hopes; there are no paths… we have to make our own paths, as teachers and children and families, in the forest. Sometimes we find ourselves together within the forest, sometimes we may get lost from each other… but it’s living together in this forest that is important. And this living together is not easy.  


It seems that all any of us can do right now is be open to what takes place; we are not choosing to change, but change is being thrust upon us.  We are flooded by the restless nature of life in this moment as our roles as educators are profoundly affected, possibly never to return to their previous construction.  Take a breath… As you reconnect with your students in these next weeks, find ways to hear their thoughts and wonders. Listen if you can. Just as Reggio emerged from the wreckage of WWII, so we will emerge from this period changed by the experience.

For more inspiration from Loris Malaguzzi visit this link.

Where Teaching Begins: Loris Malaguzzi