Fear…the silent force lurking underneath so many of our choices, actions, and reactions. Right now, is a time of tremendous fear as we watch our nation grapple with so many issues. As we begin the 2020/2021 school year, I don’t think I have EVER seen a time of such tremendous fear regarding the return to school. Fear that we will go back, won’t go back, will go back part time, will make educators return, on and on and on….
Personally, it is so easy to be demoralized as an educator. In the Spring, educators were hailed as heroes worth million of dollars for educating kids. Now, they are perceived as whiners unwilling to return to work. The message has been sent at every level that educators are expendable. Schools place the blame squarely on the shoulders of educators for why they are moving to remote learning.
Some educators feel total frustration with trying to educate in a distance learning model. Some educators are terrified to be in person instruction. Some know that they will not be able to maintain the safety environment expected and that they will be held accountable for a system that is impossible to maintain without resources, support, and frankly, perfect children (which don’t exist).
We educators begin to wonder why I am doing this? Am I making any difference? Why do people refuse to treat me as a skilled professional deserving of respect for my expertise? Why are we expendable? What about my own family?
I was listening to the Michelle Obama podcast on Spotify (highly recommended) and I had an epiphany to my own fears that made me reframe my thinking and get ready to wade back into battle for myself, my family, my students, and the educational process as a whole. Here are the truths I discovered:
(1) YOU – educator, bus driver, assistant, cafeteria – you probably have been directly responsible for changing and possibly saving the life of a child. I often discount the impact I have made on the lives of my students. I brush off the compliments out of habit of downplaying myself. But, this impact is a gift! A gift that I need to marvel at for its wonder. Me…in all my messiness…has made a difference. You have made a difference and that matters.
(2) We not only have the right to speak up…we have the obligation to speak up for what is right. As a group, educators are capable of changing the conversation of return to school, safety measures, funding for schools, lessons we can learn from distance learning about what is broken in schools and what we want to see happen.
(3) Each of us has the power to decide what is true, what is right for ourselves. Being a teacher can often feel like we are on a hamster wheel running in circles with no change. We have choices…even when we don’t see them. Many teachers have left the profession rather than put their families at risk and are tutoring, moving into other fields, or allow themselves to put their focus back on their family. Whatever we choose, we have the RIGHT to choose it. Fears…financial, emotional, or peer pressure can make us feel like there is not a choice. But there is ALWAYS a choice we can make to be authentically true to ourselves if we just take a step forward out of fear.
As we enter this time in education that is wrought with fear…take a breath and remind yourself that YOU are powerful beyond measure. YOU are capable of anything you set your mind to. After all, you wrangle a group of 20, 30 kids into sitting still and learning on a regular basis. You’ve GOT this!
So – if you are not sure you have the courage to face your fear…here are some pretty inspirational stories of facing fear to get you motivated.
An educator advocates for a district to move to remote learning with a board unwilling to even listen to concerns. Her emotional response lights a fire for others – video at the bottom of notes from the chalkboard blog post. http://notesfromthechalkboard.com/2020/08/05/covid-fears-of-union-county-educators-fall-on-deaf-ears-at-board-meeting/
Inspirational Nike commercial – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA4dDs0T7sM
Facing Fear video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnrogLw6SOQ