As we continue to learn and grow in the world of remote learning, let us not forget that there is more to it than putting assignments into the LMS, having video chats, grading the work and calling it good. Back in the day, we talked about using the power of the new tools to allow our kids to connect, collaborate, and create (the 3 C’s) in new and different ways. We need to move away from “putting new wine into old wine skins,” we can do so much more if we allow ourselves to open up our imaginations, and those of our kids, to embrace the new possibilities. We are “first year teachers” again, give ourselves permission to fail, and grow. It is the only way we learn.
Disclaimer – What you think are the best parts of this post are either original thoughts, or ideas stolen from others.
We have been asked to share a book recommendation and why we loved the book so much. That happens in this post, but not right away.
Instead, I start with a quote from a book I trust we all have read, “A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway. “If people bring so much courage to this world the world the world has to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”
Pessimistic? Absolutely! And metaphors abound.
I see us in the second sentence, broken, but stronger because of it. We don’t just survive, we thrive.
For many of us, this has been a transitional, frustrating, anxiety-filled year. Every year is challenging, but it has been exponentially magnified this year as we have tried to do our work under a traditional schedule; a hybrid schedule, some of our kids working from home full time while others are in class everyday; cohort schedule, in class a day or two a week, remote the other days.
Or some other combination.
Many of us are changing instructional models within a few weeks. And each model requires different skills from teachers and learners in order to be effective.
Allow yourself to be a beginner. Nobody starts out being excellent.
Again, our work seems to be dictated more by which direction the winds of politics are blowing today rather than by what we consider to be in the best interests of our students. For those of us who have done this for a few years, this isn’t the first time our work has been guided more by politics and popular opinion.
Nor will it be the last.
We are Professional Educators. We went to college to earn our degrees and certifications, often while working, parenting, otherwise building our lives when we are away from school. We have endured state testing. We have been fingerprinted and background checked. We model lifelong learning. We have sacrificed time, sleep, and family. We have sacrificed our own money because our school budgets fall short of meeting the needs of our kids. While most people slept, we were correcting papers and tests, researching, creating, building, and enduring phone calls and emails from parents with grace and professionalism.
We teach the kids who live down the street. We teach the kids who have been bailed out of jail, whose home situations you could not imagine in your worst nightmares. We teach all kids, regardless of socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, medical/psychiatric conditions, good or poor attitudes, or family circumstances.
We need to give ourselves all due credit for the work we do, the sacrifices we make, and the accomplishments of our students. And we need to worry less about what others, who don’t walk in our footsteps, think of us.
As Theodore Roosevelt so eloquently spoke: “It is not just the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…”
It is time for us to become selfish, and accept our selfishness. Call it self-care, life balance, looking out for #1. But do some things for yourself, and don’t feel guilty about doing them.
I was invited into the Magenta Teacher community last spring. It has been a blessing. It grew from the book I recommend for us all –
“Teaching in Magenta” by James Sturtevant.
From amazon.com, and author notes: “Teaching in Magenta means creating magnificent days. It’s a refreshing approach to teaching that puts your joy and well being first so you can share those attributes with your students. Veteran teacher and author James Sturtevant shares 100 paths for living and teaching in an authentic, enthusiastic and relevant way.
The book is divided into 5 Sections:
1. Magenta Teachers Show Compassion
2.Magenta Teachers Embrace Optimism
3. Magenta Teachers Pursue Balance
4. Magenta Teachers Adapt
5. Magenta Teachers Find Contentment
Each section focuses on translating and inserting one of these attributes into your classroom.
You don’t need to read this book in a linear fashion. Read a page or two each day. It will only take a few minutes, but the impact on you and your students could be life changing.
It is meant to be consumed slowly. Think of it as a journey of discovery with 100 different paths to explore.“
It is an amazing companion read to “Teaching With Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach.”
I have been fortunate to spend most of my career in the Rocky Mountain West. I try to spend as much time as I can sojourning in the woods, where I can lose my mind and find my soul. The books help me accomplish the same thing.
While you are reading, join the Magenta Teacher Community. It’s always fun to share your journeys with others.
And so it goes…