Metaphorically Unpacking my Literal Pile of Classroom Boxes

Amethyst Hinton Sainz Current Affairs, Education, Life in the Classroom

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Since June, here is what I have seen in my dining room:

Photo of my classroom stuff.

(To the left in this frame, you will notice the sewing machine I took out thinking I would “remember” how to sew and make masks. Since June, I have had an excuse for my low (zero) mask production, because I can’t get to the sewing machine to use it or put it away.)

Mostly, this snapshot is about my pile of teaching stuff. At least, the stuff I didn’t need as I assembled my home office for remote learning, and the stuff I didn’t give away when I left my junior high ELD classroom for a return to high school as an interventionist.

Two years ago this month, I wrote about my angst regarding teachers’ social media posts about their beautiful Pinterest-ready classrooms. I guess the equivalent this year is teachers’ posts showing their home workspace or Bitmoji classroom (and I have definitely made both types of posts, so no judgment here! I have the best office I have ever had.) 

Still, the pile brings melancholy. The evolution of my thinking about it reflects my shifting thoughts about school throughout the summer and the first few weeks of remote teaching in a completely new job and school.

First it was a metaphor for a fresh post-pandemic start
a new school, with my children, our one year together.
a classroom vision: books, floor pillows, mini-fridge, and
for the first time… not an English classroom.
No metaphor posters. No grammar wall. Maybe decor?

Then it was a metaphor for the unknown, for chaos
Epi-curve spikes; unanswered questions
no phone extension, no room number, no place
to take my alleged necessities.
No department. No department chair.
Overwhelmed administrators planning for both virtual
and in-person school, and which will be real?

Metaphor for quarantine, in the heat of summer,
which is a metaphor for the unruly stacks of visions
heavy on my mind. Cabin fever in the desert.
Or maybe more hopeful, health hoarded,
the cool of the darkened house.

Metaphor for a “return to normal” personified by
a companion who, though I waited at the table with my drink
wasn’t coming. Isn’t coming.
But I’m married anyway, and staying home, so
the image doesn’t work.

Metaphor for nostalgia, for loss
of a possibly outdated and useless schema
that included books and posters,
and did not include sanitizing spray
soaking into the paper at night.

Metaphor for distance. How far, how long
we have travelled, and yet the horizon retreats.
Yet as close as a typed message, a webcam, a call.
An island, a collection, but I don’t remember what of.

It’s not my heart, but my heart is stacked and stuffed,
and probably will not be unpacked, sorted
tenderly placed and tended for some time.



Amethyst Hinton Sainz is National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescent and Young Adult English Language Arts, and is constantly trying to live up to that standard! This year she will begin teaching at Westwood High School in Mesa, Arizona as an interventionist. She has taught junior high ELD and high school English in Arizona for 25 years. She has been a Stories from School blogger since 2012. Amethyst’s alma maters are Blue Ridge High School, the University of Arizona and the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. Her bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Philosophy led her toward the College of Education, and she soon realized that the creative challenges of teaching would fuel her throughout her career. Her love of language, literature, and culture led her to Bread Loaf for her master's in English Literature. She is a fellow with the Southern Arizona Writing Project, and that professional development along with, later, the National Board process, has been the most influential and transformative learning for her. As a board member of the Mesa NBCT Network, she works with other NBCT’s to promote this powerful process throughout the district. She supports candidates for National Board Certification, and loves seeing teachers realize and articulate their teaching and leadership power! She enjoys teaching students across the spectrum of academic abilities, and keeping up with new possibilities for technology in education. Last year she had the privilege of running our school garden, and will really miss that this year. She is currently learning more about social and racial justice and is striving to be an antiracist educator. She lives in Mesa, Arizona with her family. She enjoys time with them, as well as with her vegetable garden, backyard chickens, and the two dogs. She also enjoys reading, writing, cooking (but not doing dishes), kayaking, camping, and travel, among other things.

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