I am the thinker....I can choose my thoughts.
I've been reading Chasing Cupcakes by Elizabeth Benton and also listening to her podcast, Primal Potential. Elizabeth talks about real change coming when you change your thoughts about your situation. It is an idea that resonates with me as we prepare for a most unusual 20-21 school year.
I live on Long Island, New York. We are awaiting Governor Cuomo's decision about the plans the schools developed for reopening. The district where I live and the district where I teach (two separate districts) have both set forth a plan where elementary students come to school every day. I know there are many feelings about reopening and many educators are pushing for remote learning. I think it is a complicated issue, for sure. I also think that a community's level of outbreak should determine if schools reopen. Where I am, we are close to 1% infected. My own children really struggled with remote learning and desperately missed school. As a teacher, I felt we lost many students with remote learning. The truth is, I am glad that we are going to have the opportunity to be back in the building in September.
However....school will be unrecognizable in so many ways. Every simple routine and structure has to be rethought. Nothing will be as it was. Students will be spread out, socially distanced. They will not share supplies. They will not be able to physically sit near each other to collaborate on assignments or games. I won't be able to sit close to students. I won't be able to sit with my colleagues at lunch or in meetings. I am really not sure how all of this will work.
I heard a quote once that said something like ,"Just because you've been given a cactus doesn't mean you have sit on it." 2020 is certainly a great big cactus. There are so many stressful aspects of school reopening in the building.... with health and safety being the top priority. As the thinker of thoughts, I have the choices as to how I see this situation. Do I bemoan how awful it is for students to sit apart from each other and not share materials? Do I focus on all that is lost and different and not how I think kids learn best?
Or, if I do believe that kids need the structure of school....AND if the precautions and new rules and routines keep kids and teachers safe while at school, can I reframe my thoughts to see the possibilities? Can I think of ways to make school still feel fun for my students? Can I plan ways to help us feel like a community? Can I focus my time and energy on what I can do to make teaching and learning the best it can be in the current reality?
I am the thinker of thoughts and I think I will not be sitting on the cactus.
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski