Author: Dawn Mitchell
This school year has been full of new experiences for each of you. In August you experienced you first day as a teacher. In September you had your first parent-teacher conferences. In October you finalized grades and prepared your first report cards. From managing field trips and classroom behaviors to teaching split block lunch and communicating with parents, you have risen to every new challenge. Today begins a new challenge as you strive to support students’ academic, social, emotional, and physical needs in a remote environment, I am confident that we can figure it out together!
In times of uncertainty, fear can be a driving force. It can make us focus on what we can’t do, rather than what we can do. It can prevent us from being productive and put us in a place of panic. It can place us in self-protective mode rather than in service to others. While these are typical first responses for all of us when faced with a new challenge, they may not be the best responses. I challenge you in these coming days to think about what we can do during this time of remote learning.
We can give ourselves grace, and we can pass that grace to our students, to their parents, to our neighbors, and to our community. We are going to do the best we can with the time and the resources we have to provide excellent, standards-based, student driven instruction in an online format. For many of us, this will be our first experience doing this. Like all teaching experiences, when we know better, we will do better.
We can consider students’ social/emotional needs during this time. Many of them are devastated about their spring sports, concerts, and performances being cancelled. They’ve worked hard all year for their season only to find out their games and events have been cancelled. Many are as stressed as we are about online learning and are worried about midterms and exams. Many are home alone or home babysitting younger siblings and are going to have to navigate not just online learning but also “on your own living” while their parents are at work. Consider ways we can reach out and check on them, provide encouragement and support, and be a listening ear to their worries and disappointments.
We can use the time we have been given between preparing effective online learning experiences and checking in our students to consider our role as public servants. I read online this weekend that health care professionals and educators are two of the most important professions to our country’s success and stability. We already know this, but we have a unique opportunity during these next two weeks to make the most of this opportunity to showcase our talents as teachers and to serve our students. Take time to check in on an elderly neighbor or a single mom that lives near you. Send an encouraging email or make a phone call. It will be tough, but teaching has never been easy.
I want to end with a quote I read this weekend that challenges us to change our focus from what we can’t do, to what we can do. Let’s be the Good!
South Carolina ASCD President