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  • Lisa Palanca for Palanca Leadership

See the emerging butterflies


In my 15th year as a teacher, I really wanted to try something new. I loved my district and wanted to stay there, but call it the mid-life crisis of my career.

An opening in the middle school for a Life Science Teacher opened, and having the credentials, I applied.Now, I had been teaching in a K-5 building for many years. The transition to middle school proved to be the obvious.

In my head, I realized that I was teaching the larvae, if I were to compare to an insect’s life cycle. In many ways, these not quite beautiful adults shared many of the traits of a butterfly emerging from its metamorphosis.

Some were developing faster than others. My observations were sometimes pretty painful when you realized all the ways the frontal lobes, pituitary glands, and skin sabotaged the kids at the most sensitive level of their lives.

One student was writing a book. He handed me a 300+ page manuscript one day (his only copy) and wanted to know what I thought…by the weekend. I am not going to lie that I lied that weekend. There was no way on God’s green earth, even if I dug science fiction, that I would have time to read that manuscript and do all my “other job” mom things at home.

But, that’s how invincible teachers are for students.

They want your approval above anyone's.

Teachers are there for breakups. They are there for the parents that just don’t get them. Students linger around desks just to be in the proximity of someone they admire. And yes, I think it’s fair to throw the “L” word around. There is a certain love that a fine teacher stirs up in a child.

So I don’t live on Mars.

This past month has been difficult. I have observed teachers, first with packets of work and now the uncertainty of a pandemic deadline. There are many who are reaching out to students with technology that they crammed into learning sessions in the last 2 weeks. Many are unsure if they will see students in the physical sense again this year.

However this school year ends, it will be historic in so many ways.

Teachers off school like to go to lunch. That didn’t happen.

Track and Field Days, School Plays, Senior Prom and Graduations, Sports, Awards Day, Field Trips….The list goes on a long way but please remember one thing:

Your phone call, your face time, your Zoom lesson, your car parades are what students need at times like this.

Be the constant.

For the eggs, nits, larvae, and beautiful adults.

They need to be able to remember some light hearted moments now in the middle of chaos.

To all the Teachers who missed Teacher Appreciation Day,

I will bet this year you have been appreciated most of all.

Stay Safe. Stay Home.

But give them each a hello buddy to your young people.


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