New York City, NY

2020-2021 School Year: Compassion Over Curriculum

The Mindful Educator

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Similar to most educators across the country, I have received a staff meeting. You know the one I’m talking about. The conversation swirls around “This is all tentative.”, “I have more questions than answers.”, “I wish I could tell you more.”, “ That’s a great question I’ll let you know when I know.”, “This is the plan but, there are so many variables.” I completely understand my administration was doing their best but, throughout the meeting, my colleagues and I were feeling very overwhelmed. The multiple group texts I was apart of were blowing up with, “How is this going to work?”, “This is going to be a mess.” , “This isn’t going to last and we will switch to remote in a month.” etc…

I teach in New York City so, we start school on September 10th. We are only allowed to go into the building on September 8th-9h to prep for the year. As my principal explained that, my heart sank. Two days? That’s all we have? That will give me enough time to set up a cute Bitmoji classroom and that’s about it. My principal continued to explain our reopening plan. The teachers come in all 5 days while the students come in on an ABC rotating schedule. In reality, that means I see my students about 5 times a month. When the students are not in school that day, they will have remote work on Google Classroom. Teachers who selected to remain all remote will teach group D who are the students who have also selected to remain remote. The Google Meet was filled with questions, fears, and hopelessness.

Well, I don’t know about you all but, I’m exhausted from feeling negative. Waves of negative emotions have raced through my mind everyday since March 13th, 2020. If I remain angry, overwhelmed, and anxious my mind will implode. So, I decided to take this school year mindset into my own hands and work towards a more appreciative and positive way of thinking. If there’s one thing I can control about this new academic year, it’s my attitude towards it. Yes, it will probably be a hot mess but, I’m not focused on a rigid curriculum. I want to make sure my students feel safe, supported, and heard. Mental and emotional health over everything.

We have all been through so much. We have all experienced loss, anxiety, grief, sadness, and anger. We lived through a traumatic and historical event and have our own stories to tell. We are coming to this school year with emotional baggage. We have a chance though as educators to be a light in the darkness. Compassion over the curriculum will be my mantra of the year. Yes, students are eager to start the school year but, the school will be immensely different. 10 kids to a room, 6 feet apart, masks on, hands washed, students staying in the same room as teachers shuffle from room to room, it will be a lot to absorb. First things first though, I’m going to be there for my students. On the first day, I will greet them with warm eyes and a huge smile underneath my mask. Our goal together as students and teachers is to make sure everyone is safe. Learning will come second.

Students should be focusing on coping mechanisms for a new normal and expressing their hopes and fears. Then, students can learn about Industrial Revoltuion. There will be a distraction at every corner but, the most we can all do is be there for one another. There is power in the community. Students have been isolated for months and it important for their first interactions outside of their family to be positive and supportive. Show compassion. It costs nothing to be kind and understanding. Both students and teachers will be going through this together and we should encourage one another. Teachers, do not stress if you’re 2 weeks behind from last year, we didn’t have a global health crisis at that time. Take a deep breath and take it one day at a time. Students will be all over the place so, use patience. You will also be all over the place. Be patient with yourself.

Ifsomething happens and education must shift back to all remote, we have been here before people. Learn from the past, adjust, and keep going. Parents, be patient with teachers, we are having our first year all over again and we will be trying our best to support your child. Parents, teachers, and students should work as a team to create positive outcomes. Honestly, the educational system is starting from square one. Let’s work together to erase the problems of public education past and push towards and brighter future. We have the chance now to do it.

Show compassion. Collaborate rather than criticize. Share what’s going on in your head rather than bottling it up to my dear teacher friends. To be there for our students and help them cope, we must take care of ourselves. Be flexible, because things will be changing at a rapid pace but, at least you can be a constant for your students. Start the year with a positive outlook. There is so much room for opportunity. It’s a chance to create lessons that will make an impact using both pen/paper and technology. Yes, this year will be hard but, we can do hard things. Your students can do hard things too. Some days you will be suffering but, as long as your their for your students you’ve done enough in these trying times. My door is always open for my students and as long as I can help them in one-way shape or form I did my job for the day. There’s always tomorrow. Give your students a heap of organization, support, and routine. Set reasonable expectations but, life happens and is fair.

Weare all going to doing the best with what we have. Give this year a chance. It may be hectic but, we will learn many life lessons and grow. Teachers, students, and parents are not perfect. Mistakes will happen and there will be times being positive feels impossible. There will also be days though, we will make someones’ day and leave a positive impact. Keep moving forward.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
Arthur Ashe
Originally Posted on Medium.com in "Age of Awareness"

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The introverted extrovert educator sharing her stories of going through life. Let’s survive and thrive together! IG:@TheGrowthMindsetGal & Twitter:@ Romaniello612

Selden, NY
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