Uncharted Territory

Let’s start with last Friday, March 13, 2020. Friday the 13th. Full moon. All kinds of crazy last week… at least that was what I thought until this week. 

From 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Brown Precepts by R.J. Palacio

Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to march across our world and now into our community. Schools are closing. Health-care workers are scrambling. Businesses are bracing. Life as we know it will change drastically. Technology will shift from a form of entertainment to a vehicle for human connection and contact beyond our homes.

Compassion and composure. Fear ramps up as the “what-ifs” begin to come to fruition. Beyond schools, churches have closed their doors as well. Sports have been postponed indefinitely. All the pieces of our lives in suburbia are coming to a screeching halt.

At school I could see the shift begin. The day was already scheduled as a teacher work day, a student holiday. We opened our building to allow students to pick up anything they needed from their lockers and to check out technology for the “extended online learning” days ahead. As I watched parents entering our building, I knew I mirrored the shock I saw in their faces. Not fear, not worry per say, but simply uncertainty.

Many students were excited! Mine included. No school! For a week! And it isn’t even a break? This is like a Big Nate comic strip. “The virus is coming and no more toilet paper!” “School is cancelled!” “And snow for a month!”

The truth is that for most adults living today, school has never been valued as the privilege it truly is. Not to say we didn’t appreciate it at times or even that we didn’t look forward to it – but for most of us, it was never an option. We simply went to school because that was what was expected. It was the law; and therefore, not as appreciated as it was 150 years ago. Then school was only allowed for those who either had money or whose family deemed it necessary to receive an education. For many, the farm and family took precedence and school was not viewed as a requirement. As a result, school was valued differently. 

What a shift in perspective! While the students I saw Friday didn’t mirror this appreciation, I bet it will happen. I know my son, who loves structure and school, will miss his teachers and friends. I know my daughter, who goes to school with me, will miss her teachers and friends as well. For my children once the novelty of being at home wears off, and they realize that school work will continue online – I have no doubt that they, too, will shift perspectives.

So what now? Online dependence. Whether it is the news or digital learning, our lives are shifting in this uncharted territory. My children keep my head focused on what is in front of me. Bedtime stories are still needed. Clothes still need to be washed and folded. The dog still needs to be walked. Bills still need to be paid. I’m grateful for Yoga With Adriene. I’m grateful for Beachbody on Demand. These habits will become more treasured as time away from school increases. I’m grateful for Marco Polo (video app) and the opportunity to see the faces I love despite the distance.

I’m so proud of the educators and leaders I both work with and learn from digitally. This past week I’ve seen many of them seeking answers from fellow educators across the globe. I’m honored to be a part of such a determined profession. We will continue to teach. We will continue to grow. While we all anticipate challenges, we will learn from them and hone our craft as we have done for years.

I’m currently reading The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday. This quote seems timely, “In the meantime, cling tooth and nail to the following rule: not to give in to adversity, not to trust prosperity, and always take full note of fortune’s habit of behaving just as she pleases . – Seneca”  

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