In this week’s podcast, I discuss some of my hopes for when schools return to a face-to-face setting and dive into those ideas. You can check it out on YouTube, SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify. Check out the full video below, and below is a summary of some of the ideas shared in the full podcast.
I was reading this article by Anya Kamenetz titled “9 Ways Schools Will Look Different When (And If) They Reopen.” The list is focused sharply on health and safety measures and includes measures ranging from “stepped-up health and hygiene measures” to “social, emotional, and practical help for kids.” You can read the whole article here.
I have been thinking a lot about what our “new and better” normal could be in education. The article mentioned above discusses the possibilities that there will be no assemblies or sporting events, and I think about how sports kept me in school as a high school student. A lot of the conversation about school in the future gives me anxiety and creates nervousness as an educator as well as being a parent of a child close to entering Kindergarten. What will be her experience at school? I don’t know, and really, no one does.
So what I am trying to focus on is not what others could do to make things better, but what I could do to make myself better. What are the things that I have learned from this process that will help me “grow through” this? My friend and a fantastic leader, Deidre Roemer, shared this forward-thinking perspective:
“Instead of being critical of myself for why I wasn’t doing more of this before, I am setting expectations for myself and scheduling how and when I will continue my new and re-connections at this same level when we are all face-to-face again. It makes me hopeful that my new normal may be a better one.”
So, here are five things that I have been thinking about, and will help me grow forward. I hope schools
1. People are and feel valued. Both are necessary.
It is impressive the way all staff members are being celebrated by both people in and out of school. “Being valued” and “feeling valued” are not always the same thing. We must continue those celebrations of the amazing things that our educators and our support staff do on a daily.
2. We have a stronger focus on mental and physical health.
I have been guilty of this as have many other educators; going to school sick because the amount of work to prepare for not being there seemed to be more than just going into work for the day.
We also have to focus on the idea that taking care of our mental health is more important than ever.
3. Technology use is focused more on enhancing face-to-face relationships, not replacing them.
Technology right now is being used very purposefully to build connections with communities and one another. That is the way it should be used.
I shared the following in “Innovate Inside the Box”:
“In a world that is becoming more digital, being human is more important than ever.”
We need to keep the focus on how we use technology to bring out the best in one another.
4. There is a thoughtful focus on how we spend our time.
How do we use our time to elevate one another? How do we continue to have an emphasis on the “non-academic” courses in education that are extremely valuable?
A lot of the things that I learned in school that has shaped me today were not from a classroom but on the court, field, or stage. A re-emphasis on the power of this type of learning is necessary.
5. That we continue to focus on helping every learner finding success in ways that are meaningful to them.
What success is to you, is to me, is to a student, can be very different. “Success” is a personal journey and, although we have to teach a curriculum, educators right now are tapping into the strengths and passions of their students. We need to appreciate that the personalization of learning is not about students only learning about the same things in different ways, but honoring and bringing out the best of what each student has to offer.
There are a lot of ways we can make school better that we have control of now and in the future. I continue to be amazed by the stories of resilience of educators creating incredible experiences for their students while making every day better. Daniel Hodge’s tweet below reminds me of how we can use this time to get better.
Thank you for all that you do. My friend Tom Murray reminded me that this time would be one forever etched in the memories of our kids, so we need to do our best to make this challenging time as positive as possible.