Each week, I listen to a very informative webinar by Chris Joffe who specializes in emergency management in schools and, as you can imagine, he’s been talking a lot about coronavirus. So I start my week with a dark cup of coffee and an hour with Chris discussing how to teach in class and on camera, have clubs, and make school feel “like school” in a global pandemic.
For an emergency expert, Chris comes across like a mellow dude. He gently starts each session with a calm deep breath. He’s very thoughtful about wear and tear on leadership, teachers and staff (and families) and wants to help. And he constantly reminds those on the call about self care: making sure we are okay so that the students are okay.
Today, in the Seattle area, several school districts have announced that there will be no on-campus classes in the fall. It feels like a cold dose of reality or a weigh off the shoulders, depending on where you land. I know that many other schools (mostly private) have made a commitment to having students on campus in the fall, mainly to appease tuition-paying families who minimize good teaching to “screen time” and don’t see distance learning as real school.
But many teachers, if you catch them in a candid moment, will tell you they are frightened to go back to the classroom when they have been away from people so long, 6-feet or not. Others feel that we are suffering a post traumatic shock reaction that we can overcome by getting back in there and letting the energy of the students and teachers collaborating move our fears to the side. When you close your eyes and think about the fall, what do you think would be best for you, your students and families (including yours)? Administrators, can you continue to lead through this? Teachers, can you become an excellent distance learning educator? I think we all can do this well.
Chris also ends his sessions with a deep breath. And so wherever you are on the spectrum of “Please don’t send me back to school” and “Can’t wait to see my students” remember to take a collective breath. Chris’s meetings are every Monday at 9:00 PDT and his link is Joffe Emergency.
Wash those hands.