What We Carry With Us #sol20
My friends and mentor, Tammy Mulligan, and I moderated a series of professional development sessions titled, What Will We Carry With Us… Sharing Our Success. It wasn’t very well attended, but those groups of teachers that showed up were a little reluctant to shine. Why was that?
I do think that educators in general hide their light under a bushel, quietly just doing the business that needs to be done without fanfare, but I suspect there is more to it than that. I think celebrating what they accomplished during this quarantine is difficult because for them the light of learning is absent. I’ve seen them do so many, many things to keep the connection going between the students and each of them, but each educator I know, mourns that gentle, and not so gentle, day to day, minute by minute interaction with students. The interaction that only comes when you have time. Time… and proximity.
This post isn’t about what we’ve lost. This post is about what we’ve gained. So here it is again… Silver Linings Playbook, Part 2.
We’ve gained the ability to strip what we want to teach and more importantly what we want students to learn and master right down to the bone. We don’t have time or space for any, any fluff. That doesn’t mean to dispense with engagement. These educators have engagement in bushels. I have never seen so many colorful anchor charts, so many fun videos, changing tools after tools. Video, audio, visuals, these teachers combed all available resources to create their online learning and virtual classrooms. They created backdrops and makeshift document cameras. They were fearless in the face of making something from nearly nothing for sixty-five days, but whose counting?
Through three phases of online learning in my district, they taught on. Through providing technology and finding students, learning platforms and surviving those platforms failing, they carried on. They don’t even have a moment to stop and think what miracles they performed. One of the amazing side notes is that they left old practices behind. Those projects that took weeks gone. The slogging through endless revision… gone. They stared in the face of their past practices and brutally slashed everything without deep purpose and meaning. Then the really amazing thing happened.
They made that s**** interesting! They sent their students videos. Those teachers created a fourth grade university. They taught the entire American Revolution, pollinators, saving the bees along with persuasive writing, informational paragraphs, life lessons, science, and history. Don’t forget all the while they were teaching grit, determination, agency, resiliency. THESE PEOPLE ARE MY HEROES!
Honest to goodness, I am a very fortunate individual. They shared their plans with me. They took time to let me help them. They taught me stuff… and the most precious gift, they shared their students with me.
I’ve seen drawings and bedrooms, discussed books and movies and bike riding. I’ve had breakfast with kids and leaned in so they could see every single wrinkle on my face so they knew I was still here. Still here for them. I have left meetings with a lump in my throat and stinging tears in my eyes. I have also laughed at feet in the screen and puffed up cheeks. I’ve discussed dog friends and breakfast choices along with Paul Revere, Jim Henson, Dav Pilkey, Isaac Newton, and the Wright Brothers.
I’ve recorded books and lessons. I’ve given pep talks and drive bys. I’ve written and I’ve read and I’ve thought and I’ve planned… and we’ve almost survived… this phase.
I promised myself that I wouldn’t consider the next phase. I would walk away next week from this phase and let the next phase come to me without worry. I’m having a little trouble with that just now.