Let’s Not Forget the Hard-won Covid Lessons

A MiddleWeb Blog

I happened to be home today at a time when I’m not normally home, so I got a glimpse of what my teen son has actually been doing in his online learning.

He will be the first to tell you that this whole year has been bonkers and depleting and depressing for him, and of course I know that from the inside out.

Or not. Because…

– as I watched him blearily sign in from the dining room table and spend a full hour listening to his Phys. Ed teacher gallantly discourse on the rules of Pickleball…

– as his math teacher kept him and his classmates online for 30 minutes past the designated learning time…

– as he pushed himself through a free work period in AP History with nothing but his own adolescent still-developing-work-habits brain…

– as his choir director gamely somehow got everyone both in person and on line warming up with vocal arpeggios (and in between he tried to relax by playing first person shooter games)…

…my heart broke all over again in surprise for the misery Covid has visited on us all.

And I surprised myself by being surprised. Surprised – again – at the sheer enormity, the near impossibility, of what we are asking kids and teachers to do.

With spring here, restrictions relaxing (our K-6 kids are actually coming back 5 days a week), and the end of year in sight, I think I feel a false sense of relief, of acceptance, of normality – heightened by the fact that I’ve somehow gotten to this point at all without jumping off a bridge.

How? By doing what teachers do: turning on a dime, accepting what’s in front of me, and treating these past eight months like merely so much water to swim in.

Taking the lessons learned to the finish line

But the dark side of my teacher’s ability to pivot, to fully dive into the insane, is forgetting.

Forgetting that absolutely nothing about this year is normal. Forgetting to give kids and families the benefit of the doubt before getting frustrated or angry at their disengagement. Forgetting that the last two miles in a marathon are not made easier by having run the previous 24.

The last two are the hardest. They are going to be the hardest for us all.

I am telling myself now: Don’t forget. Don’t throw your hands up in the air, phone in your compassion, suddenly lock down on rules and deadlines, say things to yourself like “they should KNOW [insert ridiculous Covid-tinged expectation here] by now.”

Don’t forget that kids, teachers, families, schools, communities are struggling just as hard now as at the beginning of the pandemic, and maybe harder.

Don’t forget the motivating force that has brought me, my son, his pickleball teacher, my principal, my students, this far: love. Only love for our children, our communities, for learning, for the goodness that still exists in life and makes it meaningful, could have brought us this far. And it is love, in the end, that is the only thing that will bring us home.

That and Memorial Day.

Dina Strasser

Dina Strasser is a veteran educator of 20 years, 14 of those as a middle school ELA/ELL teacher. For six years she worked in many capacities at the non-profit group EL Education. Now she's back in the classroom, and this year she’ll be teaching middle and high school English language learners. Her early experiments with dirt have progressed into a lifelong love of the outdoors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.