1. Teacher Life

Toward A New and Better Normal

“Change is an opportunity to do something amazing.” 

The above quote from “The Innovator’s Mindset” has been shared back to me seemingly 100’s of times in the past few weeks. I am going to be honest, that sometimes I get excited to see all of the opportunities this new reality is creating. 

Then sometimes, I break down and struggle with all that is going on in the world. Do you have moments that you are lost in an episode of “Tiger King” and then all of a sudden, WHAM!, you remember what is going on in the world, and you breakdown, or is it just me?

I have been thinking about all the things that I miss right now that I took for granted—sitting in a Starbucks and writing while “people-watching.”  Going to a sporting event.  Having my brother and his family over and watching movies.  I loved all of these moments while they were happening, but I feel I also took them for granted.

I am also thinking about the things that annoyed me that I miss. Traveling as much as I do for work, I used to hate the process of flying, but right now, I also miss getting on a plane. I am sure that will go away in the future, but right now, I miss it. 

Yet, here are a few things that I am grateful for right now that I don’t usually have regularly.

  1. A normal routine.
  2. The opportunity to listen to music on Vinyl daily.
  3. The chance to play the guitar.
  4. Most importantly, consistent time with my daughter.

Right now, I am realizing how blessed I am that I will be able to answer in 30 years the question from my kids, “Where were you when covid19 happened?” with the answer, “safe at home.”  Not everyone will have that same opportunity of sharing that similar answer.

I have been practicing gratitude daily so that I can better serve others who do not have the same opportunities I do. 

While I was doing my daily reading of the Internet, I saw the following meme. I have never been a big “Lord of the Rings” fan, but I saw this tweet and did it ever hit me.

The above quote is both inspirational and overwhelming. I have been thinking about it a lot since I first saw it.

So back to the idea of “change is an opportunity to do something amazing.” I shared this in “Innovate Inside the Box”:

As learners, we can look at change in two ways:

1. Change will come our way. We can “go” through it or “grow” through it. We grow when we seek out solutions rather than letting obstacles hinder us.

2. We can initiate change; in fact, the most important and meaningful changes are often the ones we choose to make.

As this is all happening, it is crucial to understand that the above is not an “either/or,” but often a combination.  On some days, I am “growing” and getting better. Some days I feel I am just hanging on at the moment. And some days, I am initiating change in myself to get better. I think this way to look at “change” is accurate pre, during, and post-pandemic, but it is exaggerated at this time. I have had conversations with friends and have been the shoulder to lean on, and sometimes, I am the leaner.  

To try and grow through this, I am trying to see the good in our world that is happening right now.  And there’s lots of it.

Below are some of my favorites from this collection of wholesome memes.

My educator heart especially loved this one of a teacher helping a student while also social distancing. 

Excuse me while I take a cry break from writing…

And I am back.

I have been watching and been inspired by educators who are trying things to help their students, while juggling so many other responsibilities, personally and professionally. 

In 2015, Bill Ferriter and I put this image together to encourage thoughtful use of technology:

Right now, what you are seeing is that the “Better Answers” column is becoming the norm, rather than the exception.  Great leaders are focusing more on “people” than they are software, knowing that the software is useless without building meaningful connections. 

Here is the best advice I can give any educator right now.  Focus on connection first, everything else second. And a very DISTANT second. 

But I am not just referring to our connection with our students, but the relationships we have with our families and friends, as well as the connection students have with their families and friends. “How do we ensure that we honor the different situations of every one of our families?” is a tough question to answer, but one that must be continuously asked. 

 

I know many families are asking for routine and structure at this time, and I appreciate so many educators working with families to help them in any way that can. But I was also reminded that this is not merely schools moving “online.” The title of this article hit me when I read it; “The Difference Between Emergency Remote Teaching and Online Learning.”  The title is a reminder that this is just moving school online but something so much more.

So, back to the quote, “change is an opportunity to do something amazing.”

I have continuously heard the term, “when we get back, we will have to understand that it will be a new normal.”  To me, I want something more than that. I am going to focus on creating  a “new and better normal.” A “new and better normal” that is not only focused on the opportunities we can create for our students and colleagues to focus on meaningful learning but also have a better appreciation of one another and ourselves. 

I have been thinking about that “first day” back after all of this and the interactions colleagues and students will have with one another and how wonderful it will be. I saw someone share that when this is all over, the entire world will be similar to the airport scene in “Love Actually” where loved ones are reunited, but it won’t just be in an airport, but in every space where we can connect.

A “new and better normal” is not just about providing more meaningful learning opportunities for every single learner we serve, but appreciating, more than ever, that we have the ability to do so. 

What is helping me get through today is the vision of a better version of tomorrow.

Stay safe and take care.

How Well Do You Know "Love Actually", Actually?

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