On March 12, I sat around a conference room table with a group of school leaders and listened to Governor Mike DeWine announce that all Ohio schools would have an extended closure of three weeks due to COVID-19. Our students were already heading home that day while we started processing the information shared and determined our next steps. We quickly determined based on the information shared, our students would not be returning the next day. The extended closure would start immediately.
Right away we started planning.
- How were we going to feed our students?
- How would our students receive their mental health services?
- How would our students receive their learning?
- How would our students receive their support services (Title I, Special Education, ELL Services, etc.)?
- How do we support our staff?
- What does remote learning look like?
- Will all our students have access?
- How do we minimize the disparity remote learning could cause?
- Will our students be safe?
- How do we support families?
- How do we not overwhelm families?
It is now almost two weeks later, and my mind continues to cycle through many of these questions.
Our email has been inundated with webinars, suggested resources, and questions. Trying to sort through what will add value to our students’ lives under the current circumstances and not just be one more thing to add to all the noise. Maribel Valdez Gonzalez (2020) wrote a fantastic article for Teaching Tolerance, A Healthy Reminder to Educators During School Closures. The article provides perspective many of us are searching for in this uncertain time. Maribel (2020) writes: Remind yourself every day that this is a stressful time for students and their families and that everyone is trying their best. We should only be concerned about their health and well-being.
So, as we all navigate this new temporary reality, let’s give one another grace and kindness. We will make mistakes, but need to remember we are all showing up and doing our best. Let’s remember that everyone is adjusting to these circumstances. Check on one another. Be available to one another. We are better together! Stay well!
Every interaction has an outcome. This outcome can be positive or it can be negative. I’ve thought a lot about my interactions over the past year and how many have been lackluster. I think about the time my husband asked me to watch a movie with him and I decided to read instead… a lost opportunity to have a shared experience. I think about the time my daughter asked me to play cards with her and I declined… a lost opportunity. What was I thinking? How many more times will she ask? I think about the countless times I have been in conversation and have been distracted by a text or email. How rude was I? Unfortunately, this was more the norm than not. I was not showing up in 2019!
A new year, a new decade! This is the perfect time to reflect and decide how I want to show up for in 2020. While I am not yet sure what my actual goals of 2020 are, I do know I want to show up each day. By show up, I mean showing up to each interaction with intention. I want to learn from other people’s experiences and words. I want to speak less and listen more… which for anyone who knows me, knows this will be a great challenge! I want to ask better questions and stay curious.
While I want to speak less, I want to find my voice through writing. This scares me and creates a great sense of vulnerability. Sharing your words, your art, your thoughts, any part of yourself is a scary thing. A vulnerable thing. So I am going to show up with intention and vulnerability. I hope my increase in posts will lead to more dialogue. Up to this point, our blog has remained a “small” project. It took me over a year to share our few posts. In 2020 that is going to change.
I would love to reflect and share my experiences this year, but I also want to hear from all of you about your experiences. Brene Brown writes, “there is nothing more vulnerable than creativity… It’s not about winning, it’s not about losing, it’s about showing up and being seen.” How are you showing up for 2020?
I recently participated in an Open Space session. During this session, one of the topics hosted was What is your why? Simon Sinek (2017) started this work with his book Find Your Why. Listening to my colleagues discuss their why was inspiring.
My why has changed as I have learned in my various roles in public education. Early in my career, my why was to impact students early in life to increase their access and opportunities. As I transitioned to a leadership role, my why transformed to impacting the system to increase student access and opportunity. Through my learning and leadership, I have come to realize that often my intent to improve outcomes for students has inadvertently created programming that limited access to their learning environment with their peer group. Of course, these programs were always generated with good intent and to solve a problem or address a student’s need, but I am finding the truth is that we were simply triaging the situation.
How do we create a learning environment that allows all learners to feel value, be valued, and add value? Where do we start? This work calls on us to disrupt the current system, to be bold in our advocacy for a system that is inclusive. We’ve started the discussion. Are you willing to lean into this work?
Possibility. A single word that drives this blog. As a team of educators, we are energized by conversations of possibility and the hope that is derived from them. Through this blog, we are excited to share our discussions of possibility in education that guide our learning, living, and leading.
The we. This blog is a collaboration between myself and two amazing educators, my square squad. What’s a square squad? A concept introduced to us through Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead (2018). A square squad is who you go to for the hard conversations, truth, and growth. This is a small group that should only hold a few select individuals. The friends, family, or colleagues who can look at you and say, “You really messed that one up.” These two ladies have challenged me to be better. They are insightful and creative. I want to be them when I grow up. Also, if you haven’t read Brown’s work or watched her TED talks… follow the links NOW! You won’t regret it.
While we are all amazing. And we are! We are all extremely different and unique in our journeys and as individuals. While we share our story, we are extremely interested in your story too. Our hope is this blog will be a place for us to share and learn through diverse lived experiences. Let’s do this! Learn. Live. Lead.
Why are the first words so difficult? Why are we afraid to put ourselves out there?
One day, we will share our thoughts beyond our trio. We will quit saying, “We should blog about this!” Not today, though.