It's been four months since the first day of school closures in Michigan.
Four months: 120 days; a third of a year.
If you're an educator in the United States, you probably find yourself in one of four scenarios right now:
- Your school or district has announced that you'll be starting the year remotely.
- Your school or district has announced that you'll be in-person with protective measures.
- Your school or district has announced that you'll be doing some kind of hybrid arrangement where students are doing both remote and in-person learning.
- Your school or district hasn't announced a decision yet.
In all scenarios, your inner world may resemble a carousel of mental maladies. You might be experiencing being-an-American-educator-during-July-2020 if some or all of the following emotions hit when you think about back to school:
- [Insert a few more bad ones in here for me, would you?]
Yeah, those aren't good.
I've got no silver bullet for these, but in the weeks to come I plan to share a few swords. We've for sure got bogeymen coming — internal and external — but we're not resourceless. Unprecedented doesn't mean unintelligible, unapproachable, unworkable.
Here are the two threads I'll be pulling* on via the blog.
Sustaining the will to teach
The will to teach — that's the fundamental inner wrestling match. With so much change and risk and pressure and toxicity and fear and outrage, my goodness, how do we maintain our will to do the work? How do we keep atop the slipperier-than-ever hill of Yerkes-Dodson? How do we avoid what the World Health Organization calls occupational burnout while teaching amidst a pandemic? (Side question: How do we deal with living in a world where citing the WHO is a political act?)
Whether distance or in-person, we teach from who we are. No escaping it. So in the weeks to come, I'll work to be practical: what can we do to strengthen our internal selves, come what may?
Doing the work that matters most (distance learning edition)
I wrote a book on the work that matters most in teaching, but distance learning was nowhere on my grid at that time. Now it needs to be. So I'll write toward that, synthesizing oldies like These 6 Things and newies like Hattie, Fisher, and Frey's hyper-practical Distance Learning Playbook.** I'll work to be as practical as I can be.
So those are the threads: the inner work, the outer work. We'll take it a post at a time. Make sure you're subscribed to the newsletter so you don't miss a post. Invite a colleague.
Best to you,
*Thank you to Jim for sharing this poem with me yesterday. It was just what I needed.
**Both my book and Hattie, Fisher, and Frey's are on sale at Corwin (here and here) this month; use coupon code 30FOR30 at checkout.
Dave, I would like to add the pedagogical term FREAKED OUT to your list. Establishing class community with my 8th graders was my forte prior to The Shift. It carried us through the spring scramble. But how do I do this when there is a glass screen between us? I’m generally a creative, roll-with-it person, but as said, I am now freaked out. I ordered the book you recommended (I already own yours, of course) and hope that others who have experienced success will share how tos with us middle school teachers.
Dave Stuart Jr. says
Carmen, this is one of the finer pedagogical terms that there are — I’m outraged that I forgot it 🙂
With you in it,