Are we done, yet?
A few weeks ago my colleague was working with teachers in Westchester, New York. When she debriefed with the principal at the end of the day (over Zoom) he replied, "My teachers are done."
The co-director of my school where I work part time as a literacy coach told me that next year we will not have a test prep Unit. Not of any substance at least. "We are done with that," she shared.
My daughter who has gone from fully remote to hybrid to fully in person over the last fifteen months asked, "Is school done? I love my teacher and my school but I'm so tired." She's eight.
A lot of people have talked about the pandemic wall that we've hit. The year has felt tremendously long, tremendously draining and from little ones to those in charge of our schools many of us feel ready for the year like no other to be done.
I'm ready to be done.
But I don't want to confuse being done with being ungrateful. There are significant gifts that the pandemic brought to my teaching. The strides I've made with technology (I am a proud paper and pencil kind of learner) can't be diminished. The professional readings on how to be an antiracist teacher won't fade away. The renewing and revising of curriculum and read aloud texts remains my proudest work. Working with teachers on what to teach tomorrow had real value for their sanity and forced me to sit side by side with teachers as opposed to standing in front of them. These are all areas of growth and expansion for me. I'm grateful for them. But I still find myself asking, "Are we done, yet?"
In his inauguration speech on January 19th, President Biden said, "To heal, we must remember." I wrote that line down because I knew, instantly, that if the pandemic ends and we don't make significant changes in response, if we don't acknowledge all that was wrong and broken with our schools, then we will fail. Maybe the biggest gift of this year for educators is that we now know with certainty what's wrong with our schools. And maybe we are ready to be done, for a couple of months, so we can restart with massive revisions and fresh approaches. If we remember both the hardships of the past year and also what it revealed about the trouble that came before the pandemic, then we can heal.
Then we won't need to ask again, "Are we done, yet?"