#sol15: March 29, 2015 – Our “Keeping Quilt”

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One of my favorite moments from yesterday was when Patricia Polacco reached into her red bag and unfurled the keeping quilt.  The  reaction from every educator present in Riverside Cathedral was the same –  delighted oohs and ahs.  All of us know the story, and have read it to our own children and our students more times than we can remember.  The Smith family copy of The Keeping Quilt now lives in Room 202, and has been reached for and read again and again, a treasured and beloved story.

All the way back from Manhattan, after a day of crisscrossing 120th. Street from Riverside to the magnificent brownstone edifice that  TCRWP calls home, I kept coming back to that moment and our collective delight in the keeping quilt.  To Patricia’s family, the quilt represents family roots, traditions and stories.  It tells of where they’ve journeyed from, who they have loved along the way, and how they have have celebrated new beginnings and even the letting go’s.  Patricia’s family needs only to see the quilt and feel its familiar embrace to know, once again, the comfort of belonging, the feeling of being part of a firmly bonded tribe.

And it occurs to me that we teachers come to events such as the Saturday Reunion to feel just such a sense of being part of a firmly bonded tribe.  We want to remember the roots, traditions and stories – to celebrate the best of our teaching practices, to learn about new beginnings and how to hang on to the best parts of the old ways.  We want to feel the embrace of our own metaphorical keeping quilt, to know that we belong to a tribe that soldiers on sustained by all that connects us, sustains us, inspires us in these very difficult teaching times.

I am so grateful to all the presenters who shared their wisdom, but I am most grateful to all my fellow teachers who gave up their Saturday to fill a cathedral and a teaching college with their brave and joyous spirit.  For a short time, we wrapped our selves in our keeping quilt to remember why we do what we do, and why this work matters.  At the day’s end, we boarded buses, trains and airplanes, and journeyed back to our homes, ready to face what Monday brings: new mandates, new standardized tests, new modules, scripts, evaluations and directives.   Teaching in public schools today is so very difficult.  But, come Monday morning, we teachers still show up, ready to bring our best selves to the children we teach, ready to  open our classroom doors and try, again, to remember the power and comfort of our keeping quilt.

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20 thoughts on “#sol15: March 29, 2015 – Our “Keeping Quilt”

  1. Funny, my post is right here after yours and I’m writing about the same thing, here at our HVWP Writing Retreat. So sad that we don’t hear more about us in the news right?

  2. Teachers are a family bonded by our desire to nurture young lives and watch them bloom into their full potential. Even being retired, there is that sense of family I get anytime I get a chancde to meet with fellow educators.

  3. Taking the early train from DC, I missed getting to the church in time to hear Patrica Polacco. Thanks to you, I feel like I was there. So true, that we are a tribe! Through slicing, Wed TC twitter chats and visits to TC, I feel like I belong, connected to those that help me learn and grow. Your reflection says it so well. I really do hope that in the future I can sit and chat with you sometime. Already through your blog, I have learned so much from you and consider you a dear friend and mentor!

  4. And I would like to add that our TWT Writing Community is such a tribe. Thank you and the rest of the keepers of this blog for allowing a space where this community can as you so eloquently said, “remember the roots, traditions and stories – to celebrate the best of our teaching practices, to learn about new beginnings and how to hang on to the best parts of the old ways. We want to feel the embrace of our own metaphorical keeping quilt, to know that we belong to a tribe that soldiers on sustained by all that connects us, sustains us, inspires us in these very difficult teaching times.”

  5. Your words inspire and those who are the brightest and best of our youth need to read your message. We need them to continue the difficult at times journey in the classroom, but yet it is rewarding too. Being together with passionate people ignites the passion and willingness to do what it takes to accomplish the task at hand, no matter how difficult legislators try to make it.

  6. Patricia Polacco brought that quilt to our conference in 2014, Tara. What a special thing, & what a lovely story teller she is. I’m happy you had such a good time!

  7. I will echo Elsie’s words that being together with passionate people ignites passion that we then carry home with us! We need this renewed passion in the midst of never ending testing cycles!

  8. Oh, how I wish I lived near New York and could have attended this event. I read such wonderful tweets all day long. As a quilter myself, your story of seeing Patricia Polacco’s quilt was especially thrilling.

  9. Tara,
    You are such a blessing for our “tribe” and I am honored to call you friend. The fact that we can come from Maryland, NJ, CT, Iowa and even California to a learning event on a Saturday says something about the “hunger” in our souls for learning and validation. We were truly honored and respected for our work yeterday! ❤

  10. Just read Catherine’s post on this experience. What a gift this ‘tribe’ is! So grateful to have you and the strength and devotion of the teachers in that sacred space.

  11. I got to see the keeping quilt with Linda in Colorado a couple of years ago. What an amazing experience! And I love your metaphor. Some really big truth here! Thank you!

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