We have all had weeks that began seemingly normal, but ended anything but…however I think that we can all attest to the fact that the week of March 9, 2020 was one like no other. In the blink of an eye, we were going from standard classroom instruction to this new environment of remote learning, for who knows how long. Sure, things were going to be different but we are educators and used to pivoting on a dime depending on what is thrown at us, we will survive and come out on top…right?
Fast forward two weeks, as I prepare to log into my computer for the first meeting of the day (while also kicking off the 1st grade and pre-K lessons for the day), and I get a message from a colleague asking me to co-facilitate a meeting that he saw I was on. Clearly, he is kidding, as I just apologized for the mess that will be going on in the background while my kids are ‘focusing’ on their school work and I am holding down the fort solo with my husband at work. When I answered back with a ‘Sure!’ and the laughing/crying emoji, I was sure that he knew I was kidding as well. The next thing I know, my 7-year-old exclaimed ‘Mommy, that man just said your name and that you were helping to lead the meeting.’ Clearly his question was not in jest, and clearly, I had missed my introduction (as I was in the other room dealing with some pre-K trauma). While the meeting went off seemingly well, my facilitation included a 5-year-old sanding on the back of my chair jumping and playing with my hair, a 7 year old asking for help with his school work, and my phone ringing, verified by the video that I received later which had documented the entire debacle! That is when it hit me…this is HARD!
As the week went on, I continued to work through my meetings and responsibilities to the best of my ability. One of those responsibilities was a supportive collaboration call with one of our curriculum cohorts. The idea behind these video meetings was to support teachers in their efforts to support kids, and reinforce the need to grant students grace during these unprecedented and trying times. This particular call quickly pivoted to a session of support for our teachers, and all that they are balancing. My new revelation was that this was REALLY HARD…on EVERYONE!!!
When the call ended, I felt deflated and unable to support my teachers in the way that they were needed. Given what I had just experienced, I felt it was important to get on a call with my supervisor and talk through what we might be able to do to support our staff, who need just as much support as our students. It was through that discussion that we developed our new NORMal. While our district had established norms, we decided that the norm needed to be tweaked a bit in this situation. It was determined that our staff needed these new norms to guide them through this unprecedented time…
- Your current priorities are your health, your family, and maintaining relationships with students.
- You have the autonomy to control your work and workload, as you are trusted as a professional to do what you find/feel is best for you, your family, and your students in these trying times.
This message was delivered to staff both in a video message from our Superintendent, and an email from our Executive Director of Teaching and Learning. The feedback received was nothing short of phenomenal, and it was exactly the support that our staff needed!
In the end I think that maybe we as educators were taught the greatest lesson of all through this…an education in grace. While some might fear that this type of grace could provide a ticket to do less, its effect was actually the complete opposite. Bottom line, what you invest in trust and grace will come full circle and pay dividends. We truly are all in this together!