This past week, we’ve heard from several states that school districts will be closed for the remainder of the year. This is another big blow after we have all had to ‘eat the whole elephant’ of learning #remotelearning in such a small window with a need to be effective and to make sure that students and families are well and taken care of. This year has defined change and adapting for everyone and for educators, it on a whole ‘nother level.
It’s devastating to have to adjust to not seeing learners every day and if that wasn’t enough we have to end the year early. It’s heartbreaking when you think of the students who rely on school services for so many things, it carries a lot of weight on our hearts. An image burned in my mind is seeing so many districts prioritize making food the first essential distribution and the unwavering efforts to feed families. Growing up, my family would have been one of those in that need so I am very appreciative of districts who made that easy decision and went to extraordinary measures to take care of learners and in turn their families.
So many of us are anxious to see our kids again, start a new school year to make sure students are ok. We ready to start over, have classes in our rooms so we can get eyes and ears on kids, breakfasts and lunches in the cafeteria and back to the schedule of the day – a return to normal or a semblance of normal.
But I don’t think there is a return to normal. We have all experienced a major psychological and social event that we have all had to give serious time, effort, work, and attention to. When anything significant happens we either have physical or mental changes to our makeup that will be a part of us. This has had that significant impact on us, our learners and communities and as educators, we should all reflect on how we are different:
- I like to have students in front of me but can I build great relationships without being face-to-face?
- Do I really know how to get in touch with families well?
- Do I really know what engaging work is?
- Did I embrace Maslow’s before Bloom’s? When I got to Bloom’s – where was I?
- Are my learners engaged? Can I do more? [empowerment]
- Do I know how edtech can enhance what I do? Have I taken digital learning far enough?
- Do my students know they can count on me? Are we talking about what is really important? [Interests, spaces, etc]
- How do my learners really like to learn? What things have their families tried that I need to do?
- What IS really important? Do the adults in my school/district agree on what is really important?
When we come back [and we will] ‘business as usual’ should not be the priority. Learners and their well being will always be the priority but as we return, taking time to reflect and build upon this experience with impactful conversations with steps and action-shifts to respond from what we’ve learned will be the best ‘new normal’ we can go back to.