Surviving 2020 Education: It’s Challenging
It’s no secret that our current health crisis flung education into a tailspin – unsteadying most of the foundations of our schools as we have known them. As we have separated education from school buildings, we have lost our bearings. But as we find our sea legs in the ocean of distance learning, hybrid schooling, and pandemic education, it is clear that there are some silver linings in education.
Your work is being seen – literally – in a new way
As everyone has been focused on surviving 2020, there has been an awakening regarding the amount and type of work we do in the helping professions – and for work in other essential fields: grocery, pharmacy, plumbing, and electrical. Yes, it is incredibly challenging to Zoom into someone’s living room to teach, but it also seems to have increased parents’ appreciation for your coursework. And if you are a brave soul in a hybrid or other in-person classroom, know that you are SO appreciated for the work you are doing to keep our youngest and most vulnerable learners on a forward trajectory.
You can learn from the best
At the end of 2020, basically every educator you know should be given an honorary degree – including you, not only for surviving 2020 education, but for learning while you were at it. Though I am grateful to have attended years of graduate school before I had my own children, I felt like I was back at it again in 2020. The good news is that the best of the best have been providing online professional development to educators, a great deal of it free of charge. The bad news is you can’t possibly watch all of it.
At some point this summer, (yes, summer – there was no real break in 2020), I resorted to watching my backlog of recorded webinars on double speed on YouTube to try to get as much as possible from as many positive sources. Because what the multiplying crises that are 2020 have revealed to us is a need for a foundational social-emotional learning program for ALL our children.
Your new understanding of technology will serve you well
And while social-emotional learning will continue to be the most necessary curriculum as we navigate through the next few years of education, it is also clear that the use of technology in instruction has become an essential component of surviving 2020 education. There is no turning back now. You may not keep everything, but you will keep what serves you well.
For some this will be grading online – no more grubby papers (which were questionable to touch even in a pre-COVID world). For others, it will be recording their content – for students to watch over and over again – and using class time to answer questions and work together. Or maybe it will simply be using PearDeck or NearPod to track students’ understanding in real time- even after they are back in your classroom. (And I know that more than a few of us will miss the mute button!)
You are still connecting to students and families
You may not know how tall they all are, or if they wear flip flops year-round, but you are meeting, and relating to kids who you didn’t know a year ago. And you may even be meeting MORE parents and families than you did before, as parents call in on their lunch hours, or squeeze into the Zoom screen with their child. (And if you hit the wrong button and wind up ending the meeting rather than closing the breakout rooms, well, in 2020 that’s consider relatable: congratulations!)
You can help your students chart a new course
After all these “unprecedented times” we are living through, surviving 2020 education, we will eventually emerge into a new world – Sonia Renee Taylor’s “new garment,” “one that fits all of humanity and nature.” We have a rare opportunity to help chart a course not only for ourselves and our students, but for our profession as a whole.
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