Settling In

 

This has been the single most amazing week of my professional career.  I have seen our schools parade through neighborhoods, so they could see the faces of their students.  I have seen Morning Meetings on Zoom.  I have seen high school science lessons teaching complex concepts.  I have seen art lessons on perspective and music lessons on rhythm.  I have seen math and reading and writing.  I’ve seen history teachers using this as a teachable moment.

Our educators are stepping up in ways no one dreamed possible.  So are our parents.  To say I am proud of the people in our district, and in districts across the nation and world, would be an understatement.  We are stepping up, and we are settling in.

One of the biggest challenges of the last three weeks has been the rate at which things have changed.  Consistency is one of the things people need the most in order to feel safe.  And we all need to feel safe right now.  Just as a leader would set a plan in place, things would change.  Just as a parent or a teacher or a counselor would explain things to a nervous child, things would change.  Change is hard for most of us under the best of circumstances, and these are anything but the best of circumstances.

We are not done with change.  The number of people being impacted is growing- exponentially. But we have settled into a new normal in many ways.  We have reconnected to our homes and to the people in them.  We have found new ways to “eat out.”  We have gotten creative in how we exercise and how we take dance class and how we do school.  It is far from perfect.  No one expects perfect right now.  We are just doing the best we can.

Each family right now is unique.  Some have two parents working in a hospital.  Some have two parents who have lost their jobs.  Some have children in multiple schools or multiple districts.  Some are working from home while they are trying to help a first grader with school.  Teachers are parenting.  Parents are teaching.  No one’s situation is ideal right now.

As we settle into this new normal, grace and understanding will continue to be the answer.

Thank you for trying.  Thank you for providing some measure of consistency for our students.  Thank you for showing the world that together we can do amazing things.

 

You’ve Got This

To say the current situation is fluid would be more than an understatement.  For weeks now, the situation has changed almost hourly.  It is hard to make meaningful plans during times like this.  But plan we must.  Try we must.  Fail at times we will.  (Apparently I was channeling Yoda there.)

Last week I wrote about the need for us to give ourselves and others grace right now.  Well, tomorrow is go time.  Tomorrow we come back from spring break but to nothing any of us have ever experienced.  Tomorrow we connect, inspire and educate remotely.  

Our parents need our understanding.  They might be working from home while trying to support remote learning.  They might not know how to answer questions about physics or how to navigate Google Classroom.  Our youngest learners are not independent and may not be home with their parents during the day.  These are very real challenges for parents who will be doing the best they can in trying times.  They may have lost their job.  They may not be sure how to feed their children.  They may be scared.  If they reach out in anger, respond with kindness.  We may be the only lifeline they have right not.  Our counselors and social workers and psychologists are amazing, and they are ready and anxious to support those families.  There will be bumps in the coming weeks for our parents.  Let’s do our best to be flexible and supportive.  There will be no such thing as one size fits all in the coming weeks.

Our students need our understanding.  They need school.  We are the place they see their friends and connect with their teachers and have Morning Meetings and  Socratic Circles and breakfast and lunch and high fives and fist bumps and math and writing and social and emotional learning.  For some, we are their safe place.  For all, we are their cheerleaders and their teachers.  Our seniors are hurting.  I honestly cannot imagine senior year without spring sports and prom and yes, even AP exams.  Our job is to find new and creative ways to give our seniors those memories.  Students are resilient and inspiring.  Ask THEM how we should move forward.  Reach out to you Student Councils and your Student Leadership Teams.  Let them help re-design the senior spring.  They will be brilliant.  They always are.

Our building and district leadership need our understanding.  Everyone is working tirelessly to adapt to each change and to support those of you who are supporting our students and families.  We plan.  Things change.  We adapt.  Mostly we know that we have the greatest people with the best hearts for kids doing the best they can.  That is all anyone is asking right now.

Our colleagues need our understanding.  The most amazing piece of all of this has been the sharing and the collaboration that has been happening.  This is not a competition.  This is not about who does the coolest thing or who is the best at synchronous learning or Flipgrid.  Everyone is putting everything they have out into the world for anyone to use.  The doors of our classrooms have been opened and the walls have been taken down.  We can learn from each other.  And we should.

Most of all, YOU need understanding.  The airlines say it the best.  You have to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help others with theirs.  This is not the time to strive for perfection.  This is not the time to try many new apps.  Believe me, I know you are getting hundreds of offers for free trials of things.  The ed tech industry has been generous in their offers.  Take a few risks.  Give some new things a try.  But we will all likely be more comfortable with this experiment if we stick to things that we and our students already know as much as we can.  No one expects you to be perfect.  You will push yourself and be critical of yourself more than anyone else.  That’s how educators are.  We want to be great for our students.  But this is a time to just try.  You’ve got this.  We’ve all got this.