The BIG Picture…Now

It has to be said-virtual, distance, remote (or any other label you want to give it) learning is not the most effective way to teach or learn. 

Y’all, we knew that from the beginning. 

Beyond the obvious inequities from family to family to the less obvious disparities that have come as a result of how our kids and teachers have been expected to transition, the basics of how learning works is thwarted in an online environment. 

Technology’s role is to support learning. Accessing information, work submission, tools to fix or support little learning gains. It is not meant to be the be all and end all. No one thing should be. But we’re all having to use it for more than we’d like and in our area, there are stressors in every direction I look.

Teachers are struggling. Parents are struggling. Kids are struggling. 

Technology is one of the many components creating this stress but in my opinion the root of the struggle is coming because we’re approaching this school year with the same set of expectations as if it was any other year.

I’m guilty of it too. I know my strengths. I have the vision of how to adjust. But the reality is, it’s nowhere close. For any of us.

Depending on your role, you may see different problems. 

So as a collective, I would like to offer a bit of relief no matter what your role. Simply put, don’t expect perfection for this school year or for it to look like it has. 

Roll with what is. Look for the little wins. And the most important of them all, think about what the most important thing is for you, your family, and our children to walk away from this year knowing and learning-then forget about the rest. 

If you get glimpses or normalcy, great! Consider it icing on the cake. But the extras will not make or break this year. Our health-mentally and physically, our connections and care for ourselves and one another, little moments of joy-those are going to be what matters now and 20 years from now.

Seriously. How many of you remember your grades when you were going through personal trauma or a stressful event as a kid? How many of you remember what math concept you were learning? Me either. 

I can tell you that for a fact that for me, during my less than ideal years, that I only remember my friends’ support and connection with people via the sports teams I was on. 

Think about it, in the beginning of the pandemic, the idea of self care was being preached loud and clear. That was it. Not productivity. Not SAT scores or grades. Universally, it seemed like we were making the conscious decision to cut out what wasn’t necessary the best we can in the midst of the uncertainty.

Flash forward to today.

Really, not much has changed since then except adding in more expectations of normalcy because it’s August-May, the traditional school calendar year, and we’re tired. We’ve hit the six month wall so to speak referenced here.

No matter your beliefs, it’s clear-we’re still in the middle of a crisis moment in our country. 

The US is still leading the charge in COVID cases, online learning is attempting to replace something that can’t be replicated, and if we’re all honest with ourselves, the idea that most corporations are not back into any normal swing of things makes you wonder why we’re expecting schools, teachers, kids, and families to push for such lofty goals? 

I read a book this summer called, “The Power of Small Moments.” In it, its authors elaborated on a variety of ways that we can all add and/or adjust to a variety of situations to walk away stronger and more connected. 

In the section that addressed dealing with moments of trauma, what struck me was a phenomenon that isn’t talked about much called, “posttraumatic growth”. The idea that even in the moments of hardship, pain, and trauma-that some people are able to report positive personal changes. The differentiating factor? Being exposed to trauma prior. 

It seems contradictory, but those who were able to look for the “small peaks”, who “celebrated and honored relationships,” and viewed things as “gifts” were the ones who walked away stronger from whatever was thrown their way. 

We have the space to teach our kids those things at Indi-ED. Gratitude, resiliency, self-awareness, compassion, and having a positive mindset are built into our ethos. 

In an ideal year, we’re practicing and exposing our kids to those ideas in different ways so that they will learn to be resilient and thrive no matter what life throws their way. 

This year is different in a lot of ways, but focusing on our kids’ well-being above all else, hasn’t changed.

So while we’re all still in the muck, think about what you’re teaching and modeling for your kids. Are you taking care of what’s most important and helping them see what’s most important for them too in this moment?

This will be a blip on the radar in the grand scheme of our lives. So are you helping them, yourself, and others focus on the most important things? Really, the things that will help them be successful well into the future? 

If you haven’t already figured out what those are, do so now. Then let the rest of it go…for now.