For many wedded to history, the date December 7, 1941 has real meaning as does 9/11. We can add the date 3/13 to that list. For those of us in public education especially in California it was a date where we can remember when we received the news of in-person instruction being cancelled for three weeks. Little did we know what stood before us.
I can remember receiving a phone call around 2:00 as I was traveling to Arizona to take in some Spring Training games. My colleague informed me that we would have to go in on Monday to formulate our plans for three weeks. Of course nobody knew that three weeks would become almost three months of the school year and then what looks like an entire year later.
So what are the takeaways a year later? First of all the tragic death and sick tolls which continue to be much like a ticker-tape daily have affected each of us. For some teachers, the emotional toll of teaching remotely was too much to handle and they left the profession. These teachers realized that in many cases their health and well-being was important and must be applauded for having the courage to take this step.
For the teachers that continued on despite having to teach remotely or in some cases in person under unsafe conditions they should be recognized as heroes as well. I recently listened to the podcast Educational Duct Tape in which Jake Miller, the host described the teaching experience over the last year this way and I paraphrase, "Michael Jordan the greatest basketball player of our time decided to play baseball even though he hadn't played since childhood. Although he did not succeed at a high level, one must look at what he did do, namely driving in more runs per at bat than most other players at his level.
Now take a look at teachers. Most teachers were well-versed in their craft pre-pandemic. Some were mid-level with their respective technology skills, others were beginning with very little use of technology, and others were ahead of the game using a variety of technology platforms and applications. Fast forward to March 2021. All of these teachers are now utilizing some form of learning management systems, and incorporating a variety of delivery methods daily. Can we give them a failing grade? Absolutely not. I think many teachers, myself included are driven to be the Michael Jordan's of our field. We work hard, we attend conferences to perfect our craft, we take risks in coming up with new delivery models, etc. Sometimes we need to take a step back and look at what we accomplished. This is one of those times.
Many teachers are dealing with daily challenges of student connectivity as well as the social-emotional toll effect COVID has had on their students. Yet they have persevered. They have mastered Canvas, Google Classroom, Schoolology, Pear Deck, Near Pod. They have communicated daily with parents in an effort to assist their children. They have provided ongoing assistance to their peers to bring them up to speed and have attended hours upon hours of professional development in order to become better teachers. And the list goes on.
So if you are a teacher, take a step back. Remember where you were this day a year ago. Now make a list of the things that you are doing which you were not last year. You will be surprised. No we did not bat 1000%. We never have. But what you have done cannot be measured. No state test, no district assessment can ever measure what you have done. Give yourself a pat on the back or a hug.