Out from Under the Snow
May 6, 2020
During the White Witch’s reign in Narnia, it was always winter, but never Christmas. Working from home sometimes feels like it’s always summer, but never vacation.
Everyone is home together, but they never have time. Work obligations inveigle themselves into home obligations, and vice versa. It’s hard to do anything with focus, and it’s easy to feel perpetually guilty about everything you’re not doing.
The Magic Word
As educators, we help students live full and flourishing lives. We do that by cultivating curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking, and then watching as those seeds bloom into lives lived deeply. But now, that full flourishing feels smothered under the quarantine.
As the weather has warmed and the sun has shone (almost mockingly) on a planet in the midst of a crisis, a word from the depths of an old science classroom has drifted to the forefront of my consciousness. That word is “nival.”
The Great Thaw
On a mountain, the nival zone is covered in perpetual snow. The unrelenting cold makes it difficult for life to fully flourish. And yet, life goes on. Nival flowers are flowers that thrive even in these harsh conditions, growing under or through the snow.
Across the country, teachers have been doing an incredibly nival job. They’ve been reaching out to their students in creative and moving ways. They’ve been flexible. They’ve encouraged children to keep curiosity alive, sharing hands-on activities to engage young minds and create “aha” moments, even when students are stuck at home.
Hundreds of teachers have empowered their students to fight back against the spread of COVID-19 by learning the truth about how it spreads, and sharing their learning with others. Those students have changed behaviors and saved lives — and those teachers have given feelings of ownership and control to kids who otherwise might have felt helpless.
Throughout it all, teachers have continued to grow as professionals and as people, staying connected, building relationships, and enhancing their skills. Teachers know that adversity can create opportunity, and we’ve used this opportunity to grow, nivally.
Of course, we know that this nival slice of life is temporary. We know that someday – perhaps someday soon – we’ll have students and teachers in our buildings again. As the days lengthen and the sun shines a little more strongly, we remind you to keep hope alive, for yourself and for your students. Our world is not a place of perpetual snow. Spring will come again.
“There was no trace of the fog now. The sky became bluer and bluer, and now there were white clouds hurrying across it from time to time. In the wide glades there were primroses. A light breeze sprang up which scattered drops of moisture from the swaying branches and carried cool, delicious scents against the faces of the travelers. The trees began to come fully alive. The larches and birches were covered with green, the laburnums with gold. Soon the beech trees had put forth their delicate, transparent leaves. As the travelers walked under them the light also became green. A bee buzzed across their path. ‘This is no thaw,’ said the dwarf, suddenly stopping. ‘This is Spring.’” – C.S. Lewis: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe