Summer: Gearing up for a Very Different (Re)Start

We were all changed by the pandemic. Just ask any student, parent, or educator, and you will get more than you probably asked for if you inquire how COVID-19 impacted/impacts education. We hear about gaps, losses, challenges, and we are not just speaking in terms of academics. There’s so much more begging our attention and action. It was traumatic to live under the threat of becoming sick, losing someone, being quarantined, learning virtually, and not being able to connect.

Research is clear when discussing the social emotional needs for deeper learning. A trust must be there between learner and teachers, learner and peers, teacher and colleagues. This trust helps members of a learning community to be open and more vulnerable to take risks, understanding what they need, as well, as more honest self-reflection and self-advocacy. The challenge to create these connections seemed insurmountable with virtual learning, hybrid learning, and any combination of learning necessitated in response to the health and safety of all stakeholders.

How, then, do we prepare for an unprecedented return to school? First and foremost, a shift in mindset is not the idea of what is required; we already had so much decided for us from the pandemic. Instead, we should consider this start as an opportunity, an opportunity to truly make it everything it could be. But with this comes reflection of carefully and purposefully chosen steps to come back together face-to-face to our learning communities.

Enter Stanford’s Center to Support Excellence in Teaching and their podcast series Normal was Never Good Enough. It is described as “A three-part conversation series inspired by the Restorative Restart: The Path Towards Reimagining and Rebuilding Schools Report. Designed for all K-12 school and district leaders who want to focus on research-based considerations for a restorative restart in the fall.”

I was able to participate in the second part of the conversation: Healing Teachers In Service of Equitable Student Learning on May 18, 2021 with Dr. Antero Garcia from Stanford University and Oriana Ides from Center for Applied Research Solutions. We discussed how teachers felt the stress and pressure of not only witnessing the trauma their students experienced but also their own trauma of constantly questioning whether what they were doing was enough to connect with learners. I offered some insight into steps taken by my district and campus, but I am so eager to learn more.

Check it out. What resonates? What intrigues? What inspires?

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