March 16, 2020
Over the past week our personal lives have changed drastically due to the COVID19 virus, however, our role as educators has been changed even more so. The closure of schools for the foreseeable future has forced us to seek (or scramble) for ways to provide some level of education to our students. Depending on where you work and your previous mindset on the "big picture" of education, this shift has meant different things to different people. Some have seen this as an opportunity, others' anxiety levels are on an all time high.
This is a time for all educators to work together and discover ways to not only endure, but actually thrive in this new normal for schools. It's a time to take a breath, regroup, and examine where we are and how we got here. It is likely that we will reflect on our old practices and wonder how we ever did it that way for so long. What has happened to us in the past week has turned innovation in schools from just an idea to a necessity. It's no longer possible to stay grounded in the past. No one knows exactly what the future holds, but I believe that education will emerge from this better than ever.
So how will that happen? First, parents, students, and the community's voice must be a large part of this transformation. Everyone understanding and valuing each other will be vital to defining what an educated child looks like and how they can be productive citizens in our community and our world.
Secondly, all educators (superintendents to paraprofessionals) will discover the benefits of integrating digital tools with research-based best pedagogical practices. Schools that were forward thinking (Future Ready® comes to mind) will weather this storm with little interruption. Those who were unprepared will at first struggle. It'll be vital that they work with already prepared schools to help develop a different approach. Working together will result in better opportunities for all students, which is what we should all be rooting for. It'll take a growth-mindset from everyone.
Lastly, schools need to retool their people and their resources for not just now, but what is to come. It's tough to predict what that may look like, but we cannot limit the possibilities. Re-evaluating how we allocate our people, space, time and funding is crucial to becoming a more efficient, effective educational system. Saying efficient is not meant to imply having less people (job loss), but rather, doing greater things with those that we have. That will only come from vision, leadership, and collaboration by all, and not giving in to those who are resistant to change.
I am optimistic about our future despite what is happening on a day-to-day basis right now. We will endure this and emerge better than ever. Take this time to get to know each other again. Have some real discussions about how we can all work together to make this time in history be an opportunity to create better schools and a brighter world for our children.
Husband, Father, Educator, Optimist