Ode to Arts & Specialist Teachers by Jenni Hanson

Editor’s Note: This appeared as a Facebook post by Jenni Hanson on April 16, 2020, during the Covid-19 stay-at-home order

Swiatly Painting Human Nation 071518

Painting All My Relations: The Human Nation (c) Patty Swiatly

Dear Specialist Teachers,

Yes, you. The PE teachers and creative writing teachers and art teachers and music teachers and drama teachers.

From a general classroom teacher to you. I am sorry.

As I’m sitting here on my couch. In my comfy clothes. Non-washed hair. Laptop on my lap trying to do this online learning thing. I had a serious moment of clarity and reflection.

I started thinking to myself: What have I turned to most during this time of need? When I’ve been stuck in isolation, what has most helped my body, mind & spirit? What’s kept me uplifted?

For myself and for so many of us: It’s the music we’re listening to while we’re “working from home” or the serenity of our yoga practice. It’s the paintings we’re creating or strength we’re finding in home workout videos. It’s the books we’re reading and the music we’re making with friends via Zoom. It’s the poems we’re writing or the TikTok dances we’re learning to stay “hip” with our kiddos.

So what does all this mean?

ARTS matter. SPECIALIST TEACHERS matter. YOU matter.

As a non-specialist teacher, I’m shouting this to everyone: If the arts are what we’re turning to when nothing else seems right, then not valuing (& not funding) them as such is wrong.

It’s what helps keep us happy and whole.

So to all my specialist teachers out there, to my musician friends and my writing friends. To my photography friends and drama friends: WE APPRECIATE YOU. Your work is what keeps us going. We, general classroom teachers, are sometimes entitled, thinking our subjects outweigh yours. That our jobs are “harder” or “more work.” That we are more important because we teach the “core” subjects. But what I’m learning is that YOU are what’s important to our innermost self. You are the “core.”

We need you & we love you. You hold us together. I’m sorry for not always showing it 💕

Jenni, an apologetic 2nd grade teacher

 

Jenni Hanson is an elementary education teacher from Minnesota. She received her bachelors and masters degrees in elementary education from the University of Minnesota. Since 2016, she has been teaching overseas at an American school in Morocco.

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