Guest Post by Bonnie Nieves

These photos from my childhood show you pieces of how I was brought up. Many of us have similar images, but it’s the events occurring between those captured moments that define us even more. In fact, the individual memories have limited meaning without context, and they are just pieces of our whole story of who we have become.

Captured Moments

Recently, my friends and I began sharing throwback photographs. While laughing and reminiscing with each other, it occurred to me that these frozen moments in time bring back clear memories to the people who are in them, but as a spectator of those moments, I can’t appreciate all of what was happening in the seconds before and after their photos were taken. This got me thinking about how my students might be feeling about this present moment when they look back through their own photos and their memories of 2020. How will they remember those moments in between the snapshots?

Moments In Between 

What stuck with me after looking at my friends’ pictures is how similar our experiences appeared to be revealing birthday parties, holidays, and family trips, but they have a distinctly different meaning to each of us. Going into this even more deeply, it’s when we string the pictures together that we begin to see personalities and experiences that were undetectable in the individual snapshots. Much like a flipbook, there are gaps – the moments in between – that might not be as memorable, but that have definitely helped shape us into the people we are today. 

Can you remember ordinary days, like when we were happily greeted by the driver as we hopped onto the school bus? Do you recall the principal that opened the schoolhouse doors with a smile, and the teachers standing in the hallway laughing and checking-in, giving hugs and high fives before beginning the lesson for the day? You may not remember every one of those days, but I bet you remember how those days made you feel about the school year you had.

The ordinary moments are the things that get cropped out. The chaos that went on just before and after the flash, the laughter in the background, the people on the sides who slipped just outside when the picture was being taken. Sometimes people who were in our lives only briefly appear in our albums – their names long forgotten but the emotions that we felt in that moment come rushing back when we see a photo or recall a memory. The heart fills in the blanks between the images. Sometimes it’s when the memory becomes fuzzy that the true meaning of the moment emerges.

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Lasting Memories

When students, who have been learning remotely, look back on their memories of 2020, they may not see their teachers in their minds’ eyes or snapshots, but we are still there. We exist in those moments between the memories that were captured, just out of shot. We may feel invisible or “cropped out,” but our impact is just as enduring. 

As Educators, we did not choose this profession because we want to be immortalized in yearbooks and Walls of Fame or photostreams. We do it because we are passionate about education and children. When I’m in front of my students, I will keep in mind that simple, daily moments matter. I know this year might not hold the same kind of warm and fun memories of previous school years, but we have still been part of the moments in between. What we have done this year has mattered and our commitment to attaching meaning to everyday, ordinary moments will be even more important.

The heart fills in the blanks between the images.

Bonnie Nieves

About the Author

Bonnie Nieves is a high school Biology teacher with a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Leadership and is a member of the MassCUE board of directors. She is passionate about creating immersive and authentic experiences that fuel curiosity and creating student-centered, culturally responsive learning spaces that promote equity and inclusion. She is a Google Level 2 certified educator, teacher ambassador for Wakelet, Buncee, Seesaw, Listenwise. She enjoys connecting with educators through social media, professional organizations, conferences, Twitter chats, and edcamps. Bonnie is also a member of the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT), Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES), and National Science Teaching Association (NSTA). She encourages you to connect with her on Twitter @biologygoddess, Instagram @beawesomeonpurpose, and LinkedIn. 

Her upcoming book from EduMatch PublishingBe Awesome On Purpose” will be composed of reflective activities to help teachers implement more purposeful lesson design by identifying strengths and building relationships.

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