The last six months have been a difficult and emotional ride for everyone. We are on an endless loop of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
IMHO, this is who educators are, what they do, and how they feel on a day-to-day basis:
Awesome - I know you are too since you are reading this ...
Breathless - It’s hard enough to breathe through a mask, let alone teach through it.
Counselors - All educators are trying to keep their students, their parents, and their colleagues sane. Mental health is just as important as safety and quality of instruction as the 20-21 school year starts back up.
Delivery Drivers - We are better than your local pizza shop. Need a calculator, chromebook, novel, or textbook? Don’t worry, we’ll deliver it!
Exhausted - Up early and in bed late. Not enough time in the day to get everything done.
Food Service - Time to put on plastic gloves and a hair net. Our students need to eat and 1000s of meals need to be made each day. Admin, aides, custodians, and teachers have all been part of this new assembly line.
Gritty - To quote Chumbawamba, “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You are never gonna keep me down.” That being said, it sometimes takes some of the items mentioned in the song to get back up during this pandemic.
Hybrid Model or Theory - 2 days in, 3 days remote? Week on, week off? In person in the morning, remote in the afternoon? One group in the morning, another in the afternoon? 3 days one week, two days the next? Every district has its own model or theory. More importantly, this is one of the greatest albums of all time.
Intersection - We are at a crossroads in the American Education system. Which direction do we turn next? Should we go right, left, or straight ahead? Sometimes you have to go backwards before you can go forward. Or, do we leave the path entirely?
Janitors - Yes, we bring our own wipes and sanitizers - we do an initial clean before the deep clean and then a reclean the next morning
Knowledgeable - I teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies, art, music, technology, and social skills, and that’s just on Monday.
Learners - Five years of tech skills in five months, with limited professional development. A trial by fire and we didn’t get burned.
Mental Health - So important, that it is being mentioned again. Students, parents, and teachers are all going to need additional support to make it through this pandemic.
Needed - Students need to see and hear their teachers every day. Educators are the daily constant in the lives of our students and provide the social-emotional connection they sorely need.
Open to Change - In school today, out tomorrow? No problem, educators just flip the switch.
Passionate - We want to give our students the best education possible, whether in-person, at home, or somewhere in between.
Questioning - Educators have lots of questions on how things are going to work; they also have great ideas on how to make the models better
Roller Coaster Riders - I’ve laughed and cried, been happy and sad, gone up and down, and it’s not even 9 a.m. ...
Scared - What happens if one of my students gets sick? What happens if I get sick? What happens if someone I love gets sick because I got sick?
Trackers - I haven’t seen Johnny in two weeks. Phone call / email / text / house visit until located. Repeat with Susan, then Tyrique, then Katelyn, then ...
Ubiquitous - We are everywhere. We are your parents, your children, your siblings, your friends, your neighbors, and we are an integral part of society.
Virtual - We MEET, are part of a TEAM, HANGOUT and ZOOM from place to place, I’m sure you get my drift. Our avatars and bitmojis are our essence
Willing - We are willing to do “whatever it takes” to make the new normal work.
Xeroxers - Yes, we are still making copies, scanning to PDF and scanning to email. If we could only duplicate ourselves, Michael Keaton Multiplicity style.
You, the reader, are making a difference. Keep on doing what you’re doing!
Zero-tolerance for people who aren’t team players. The new normal is truly about collaboration and working together. This includes all stakeholders - teachers, admin, students, and parents.
That's my pandemic alphabet, and I'm stickin' to it.
Tom Wilkinson is the Technology Coordinator of the Lumberton Township School District (NJ). He graduated from Northwestern University in 1996 and has taught in the district ever since. His specialty is both educational technology and professional development. He is also a Lumberton resident, devoted husband, and father of four children ages 12, 11, 11 and 11 (yes triplets!)