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  • Writer's picturechristinemerle

Is it over yet?

It’s here!! The Fall of 2020 officially began this morning! And, although many of us wish we could just watch the ball drop and head right into 2021, we still have a few more months of learning and adapting in front of us. There are so many good things to celebrate! Toilet paper is back on the shelves, although paper towels are now gone. Hand sanitizer is everywhere, although some of it smells bad enough to keep people away much more than six feet. Some students are back to face-to-face learning, although many are hybrid, and some are still completely virtual. Masks are a new fashion statement, although it is tough to figure out which ones don’t pull on your ears or stick to your nose when you breathe in.

Here are other good things we must celebrate:

1 – We are resilient! We can do hard things – and so can our kids! Uncertainty is the only thing that is certain right now. We keep showing our ability to be flexible and adapt by the week, day, and hour!

2 – Self Care is finally being recognized as a critical part of education! But it truly is not the same for everyone. I love that many districts realize this need and are asking for professional development, but so often self care issues can be solved with a little TIME - time to plan, time to talk, time to organize, and time to BREATHE! Please start asking for what you need - and not feeling guilty when you need it.

3 – We can lower our expectations! Please. No one needs to be Teacher of the Year, Mom/Dad/Primary Caregiver of the Year, Pinterester of the Year, Baker of the Year, Home Remodeler of the Year or Tech Guru of the Year. We need to do the best we can most of the time, prioritize what NEEDS to be done, take “should” out of our vocabulary, and save a little energy for our family and ourselves.

4 – Everything we thought we knew is really being questioned, and sometimes rightfully so! I am rethinking so many of the things that I have wholeheartedly believed as an educator for years. What do I really think about late work? Can this be done in a different way? Have I been creating independent thinkers or just good little soldiers? How have I contributed to inequity? Do I want to spend some of my precious face-to-face time watching kids take tests? Why does the camera need to be on? So many questions – and I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect without defensiveness because I have had a little more time to think before speaking. Sometimes the waiting room in a Zoom call is a good thing.

We have come a long way from where we were last March. We are having more conversations around pedagogy, equity, social emotional learning, cultural responsiveness, data, technology, and wellness than we have in decades. We are putting relationships and community at the foundation and then building upon it, knowing that those interactions are critical for success. We are learning new ways to teach, communicate, assess, and engage. We are changing the face of education in more ways than we can count. And we are tired . . . already. Thankfully our enthusiasm and passion for what we do will carry us through!!

What will help me face the challenges of this new school year? Filling my bucket with some great reading - The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden (professionally) and A Deadly Game – The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation (personally), some great podcasts – The Balance & My Bad (professionally) and The Happiness Lab and My Favorite Murder (personally), watching The Social Dilemma to educate and Ted Lasso to feel, and some physical release while walking the dogs (the pandemic puppy needs a LOT of exercise) and trying out trampolining. I am trying to respect my transition time - whether I am driving to work or walking down the stairs to work from home. And I am trying to appreciate the beauty of this season, rather than missing it all because I am rooted behind my laptop once again.

What are you doing to fill your own bucket? How are you facing the challenges of this new environment with the need to keep yourself balanced? Please reach out to me with suggestions, comments, questions, or jokes so that we can all spend a little more time laughing and feeling connected. When that ball drops on December 31, 2020, and we say goodbye to this year, I am positive that the lessons learned will leave lasting impressions that will carry us far beyond 2021. Those lessons are definitely worth celebrating! In the meantime, stop reading this and go look outside at the emerging autumn landscape!

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