Standing out in the middle of the street, bending down to speak to parents dropping off their children, I became absurdly aware of two things: the shocking lack of traffic for a school day, and the fact that I was standing in the middle of the street under the ever-watchful gaze of our Crossing Guard, Mary. Mary forgave me, because she understands our teachers' struggle. But that lack of traffic. That was hard to shake.
I spend so much of my time trying to convince kids to get to school on time, and here I was trying to negotiate them away. "Just until the strike is over," I assured them. Still, this went against my programming. Kids in seats is the lifeblood of public schools, and here I was turning them back. It made my head hurt a little.
That, along with the feeling that somehow this picket line thing might become normal. We had all begun to find our places and our voices, and mine was to politely encourage our families to take a day away from those hallowed halls. I was fortunate to have plenty of translation help, since explaining our situation in English was a big enough challenge, attempting to describe why all those maestros were hanging around on the sidewalk in Spanish was not going to happen without support.
Which is what it turns out the whole gig is about. The neighbors who turned out to carry signs. The parents who brought food and kept their kids home. The kids who came out and walked with us. The folks driving by who honked their horns. The police officers who flashed their lights and sirens. Teachers are everywhere, and they have provided a base from which most everyone can climb.
Riding my bike home after our third day, I saw a little boy dressed in his Batman jammies, waving a sign that said "Support Our Teachers." I stopped and thanked him. And his mother thanked me. I felt like I could go another day, if I had to.
Because that is what we do. Talking to people. Kids and grown ups. Parents and teachers. Like all those civics lessons, but for real.