This was Friday.
8:15am listened to Dr. Jody Carrington’s morning live session on Facebook. Have coffee, visit with my cats. Perfectly normal stuff.
10am listened to Shelly Moore @fivemooreminutes on Instagram live as she is doing a book club on Dr. Jody’s book, Kids These Days. Awesome.
By 2pm, I’d settled down for several hours to watch the Phantom of the Opera musical streamed from London, courtesy of Andrew Lloyd Webber. (Every Friday, a new musical!)
Had a quick zoom drink with a colleague, and in the evening, a friend invited me to my first ‘watch party’ where Ryan McMahon, a musician from BC, entertained online for two and a half hours.
Add in other social media surfing, and I don’t think I’d ever had such a busy day.
And I still felt totally isolated.
Dr. Jody talks about kids who are attention-seeking, and says that we need to reframe that to say they are connection seeking.
That works for adults too.
And I think that’s where I’m at right now. I feel like I’m looking for things to do, things to fill my time, to keep busy….to feel connected.
I think we underestimate the amount of connections we have at school. The hundreds of students and thousands of interactions. Every. Single. Day. It’s why I often came home and needed a nap!
Now, without that, I feel an enormous amount of restless energy. Pent up. Like a lid on a pop bottle with a mentos.
Actually, more like Emperor Palpatine…like fricken lightning bolts are going to come shooting out of my fingers IF I DON’T DO SOMETHING!!!
And yet, all of the ‘things’ that usually bring me some joy, just aren’t.
Of the pile of books that I threw into my car on that last day, I have managed to read just one.
With the same amount of time in the summer, I would have finished a dozen by now. But I can’t do it. Why read about a dystopian survivalist, when that’s what it feels like I am living?
Don’t get me wrong. We are not suffering here. In fact, we could not be spending self-isolation in any more privileged position. Reading an article about my mom’s 93 year old cousin in Prince Albert, who walks 2km to see his wife in a nursing home, not just once a day, but two to three times a day EVERYDAY makes me want to take my bag of coronavirus complaints and sit quietly in shame with it for a long, long time.
But I think it’s important not to discount how each one of us is feeling.
How each one of us is dealing with this crazy situation.
What may seem trite to one person, might be the linchpin to someone else’s sanity.
I came across a quote today by Dr. Mike Goddard that I’m going to try and remember when this starts to feel a bit overwhelming, “Worry is an accelerant to anxiety, anxiousness and health issues. Worry is mostly about things out of our control. Choose to be a Warrior and not a Worrier - controlling that which you control and not allowing worry to control you over the rest.”
I get that, but I think the missing piece is that we can’t be a warrior on our own. Like every imaginable historical situation, there is strength in numbers.
There is strength to be drawn from others when our worries overtake us.
There is strength inside us to be shared with others. (Yes there is, even if your brain wants to argue that point with you!)
So hang on to the people you have.
Just hang in there.
I never really liked the saying, “You do you.”
It often felt like being brushed off. Like ‘go ahead, but that sounds stupid to me.’
But then I started to see it in a different way. An empowered way. One where I really only needed to concern myself with one person’s opinion on whatever it happened to be…my own.
That was a good reminder this last week as I was planning what direction I wanted to go with our learning as it moves online. I spent a lot of time thinking. Reading articles. Scanning tweets.
What should this look like?
How do we achieve balance?
What is most important and why?
It wasn’t that I was looking for the “right” answer, or any answer per se. It was a matter of not seeing the forest for the trees, I guess.
There were a few sleepless nights.
And then it came to me. I needed to “you do you” this.
So my guiding questions then included things like:
How can I continue to be true to my beliefs about teaching and learning as we move online?
How can I keep connections with my students going, with a variety of access points?
How do I create meaningful but flexible learning options to meet various levels of commitments?
And how do I reassure both students and families that whatever happens in the next three months, that whatever they choose, that it is going to be okay? That their child will be okay?
As educators, we were given several gifts. First, the gift of a “pause” for a week: to wrap our heads around the enormity of the task ahead, to get our own personal houses/families in order, and to essentially process the grief of what was being lost, personally and educationally.
Second, our division gave us, and our school families, the gift of flexibility. One only has to do a quick scroll through Twitter to realize that many areas of North America, and the world, that is not the case. The Supplemental Learning Plan reinforced the health, wellbeing, importance, and connections amongst all of us in learning: schools, staff, parents and caregivers, and students.
What is going to happen in with my students may not look the same as elsewhere.
And that’s okay.
It didn’t necessarily look the same before.
And that’s okay.
But especially now when we are in crisis mode, it’s so important that people stay true to themselves and what works for them.
You do you.
And that’s definitely okay.
We are truly in unchartered waters, like a lighthouse keeper trying to communicate with a boat at sea in rough waters. All I can do is flash the light and give guidance to the person at the helm. I can’t steer it for them. But I take solace in knowing that it will (should?) be my students there at the wheel, and not their parent. Why? Because I have already tried to instill in them the joy of exploring and learning for its own sake, through a no-mark classroom, embedded student choice in all things, and an authentic and games-based approach to learning.
That was the hope, anyway.
Only time will tell if they took that heart, and can get themselves to shore safely.
I believe they can.
I believe they will.
But I’m still going to flash as many lights and sound as many fog horns as possible!!
Stay safe everyone!
p.s. I was actually just going to write about how I structured their learning for the next bit, but will try to just get that out there in a tweet. If anyone actually reads this and wants to know, I’d be happy to share it…just be sure to “you do you” with it lol.
Perpetual amateur. Lifelong learner. Vice-Principal. Teacher. Musician. Mom. Annnnd if you're reading this, then I'm still a blogger.