When you try something new, there is almost always a honeymoon phase. The first few weeks of a diet when you are excited to see those pounds fall off. The first few weeks in a new house when painting and cleaning and organizing is fun. The first few weeks of a new relationship before you have the inevitable fight. The first few weeks, motivated, excited, ready to try anything.
And then it gets real.
Now these first few weeks have been anything but easy. They have been hard. They have been never done this before, don’t have the skills or knowledge to do this, trying to work and parent and redesign everything we know about quality instruction hard.
But there has also been a joy and an enthusiasm reminiscent of the first few weeks of a school year. We are setting new routines. Teachers are getting to know their students in this new environment. Students want to be there. The connection is welcome in a world that has felt so disconnected. It feels a lot like August, the beginning of this new type of school year.
But September and October are probably coming,
There is a dip each year when the honeymoon ends and the real work begins. Students lose some enthusiasm and other things start to take their focus, Behaviors increase. Learning gaps and access and equity issues become more evident. We will not be immune to this. The honeymoon will end.
But this is what I know. Every year without fail, as students disengage and get a little naughty, as parents get tired of studying spelling lists or setting aside time for homework, as the content gets harder and the frustrations grow, teachers shine. They use relationships to keep students motivated. They scaffold and differentiate and make accommodations and provide interventions. They build in days where students just reflect and have fun. They excuse things and they give extra time and they allow for all of the special circumstances that are always there for our families. Those special circumstances are certainly there now.
We are in emergency remote learning. We are in triage. This is not a normal year. This is not blended learning or online learning as they are defined in a traditional year. There is nothing traditional about any of this. No one expects us to cover the same amount of material, to assess with the same level of rigor and accountability, or to perform at the same level of awesomeness that we normally do.
But awesome it has been. Our students are engaging and working and learning. Our parents are pushing themselves harder than anyone could’ve expected. And our teachers are doing things no one has ever had to do before. Please, please continue to show each other grace. Please, please continue to show that grace to yourself…and to the big and little people living in your house. We all need it right now.
Go outside this week. Sit in the sun. Pause and reflect. You have done hard things well. You’ve got this!