Looking back on the 2 years we’ve spent in various states of “abnormality” and having conversations with different people and groups, I come away with a question: Who are you now?
I know I’m not the same person I was in March 2020. Then, I just wanted to adjust the location of my teaching so we could keep moving forward. I (or anyone else) didn’t fully understand what was going on; it was just a glitch in the programming and someone would fix it shortly and we’re go back to “normal”. By May, as I was conducting Google Classroom PDs with my coworkers, it became clear, normal was gone forever. The denial we all had about it all was profound. Living in our bubble, we weren’t sure if our ignorance about how to do this job differently was an isolated situation or if everything out there who worked in education were feeling the same. So I went to social media to see what others were feeling.
The confusion was mind numbing. Here I was, a self proclaimed Edtech geek, floating along assuming most teachers were also floating along and I realized that, by my unscientific accounting, most teachers were sinking fast into the abyss. Sinking fast and mad as hell about it.
It is human nature to want a sense of comfort and normalcy in our lives; few people live with a sense of peace in a world of chaos. We were in chaos mode by April 2021, teachers on Facebook screaming at each other about technology. This was exacerbated by the discussion of social justice issues that occurred in May 2020 (#RememberTheirNames, etc) and SOME teachers wanting to talk about that as they were finishing up the year with their students, it got really ugly there at one point. I suddenly saw the hidden line drawn in the sand years ago and who was on each side.
That all seems so long ago. We’ve all changed, right? We’ve grown professionally, correct? Our priorities have changed, our teaching methods have shifted, how we function amidst the current “teacher hate” out there is stressful but we’ve joined tribes and are supporting each other. Yet, we went back to the classroom and attempted, at administration’s insistence, to “return to normal”. I’m not that “normal” anymore. Are you?
As we slither back into the testing season, and smile at the light at the end of this year’s very dark, very stressful tunnel, reflect on who you have become. Are you still that classroom teacher who loves the children, or are you discovering that education isn’t your thing anymore. I posted on Twitter about it.
I have been muttering to myself about leaving the classroom for about 5 years now, preparing myself in various ways, packing my emotional and professional bags so I can shift effortlessly. The pandemic did two things for me as I prepared: it stalled my progress and it caused me to focus more minutely on the escape plan. I’ve decided this year is the last year in the classroom. Period. I’m ready, it’s time to reinvent who I am in the education field and how I bring innovation, progress, and enlightenment to other educators. I have the support of family, friends, and coworkers. I might land in an Instructional Coach position; thus staying close to the action. I have already accepted a part time position as a content writer. That experience will help elevate me to the next level. And I’m resurrecting the consulting business; will be adding resources, courses, etc.
I’m reinventing myself. Thank you pandemic for forcing me to do so. I know who I am now. Do you know who you are? If not, it’s time to find out. If you love the classroom, learn what you need to in order to be the best classroom teacher you can be. If you love education but hate school, find a new place in the industry to be a force of nature. For those who have discovered they never should have been here, good luck as you move away from education; and thank you for your service to our children.
Let’s finish the year with a bang, shall we?