In a recent series of interviews, Amy Nystrand, Program Director of the Educators’ Cooperative asked members, “How are you adjusting to this new education arena, and what have you learned about yourself or your students?” The responses varied from recognizing plans can’t always happen, students really miss school, and we can push through anything.
Ada Collins, Tusculum Elementary Math Coach:
I don’t even know how I am adjusting except for just taking it day by day and one at a time. I really feel like, while teachers and students would say, oh she always has a plan and whatever, and she’s always organized, at the same time you can’t do that this year. You can’t always have a plan and not have flexibility when things don’t happen that way, and so I’ve just really had to be flexible, not just flexible, but know that I don’t always have to have a plan for things, because you just never know what life is gonna throw at you.
Luke Johnson, 9th and 12th grade English teacher at Battleground Academy in Franklin
I think I’ve learned a lot about how much kids want to be in school. I’m sure I knew that before, but just in terms of how, and for me too, like in March and April, it was such a gift to be able to see these 17 and 18 year olds, who read an article I had sent them from the Atlantic about moral philosophy and wanted to talk. I think that’s been really awesome, to just truly see how much they love school, and that’s made me feel really good about our school, just how much kids want to be here.
It’s also taught me how much it’s about the conversation rather than the text. We let go of some books at the end of last year, there were books that we ordered that we didn’t get to because we lost a lot of class time, and I don’t think necessarily that the kids lost out in terms of an experience. I think that they were still able to reflect on what the academic year was and kind of the controlling idea of each of their classes. They just did it with one less book. I think that’s liberating, to know that, it’s not necessarily did we read all 7 books that we were slated to read, it’s did the students get an opportunity to have a realization about themselves or the subject matter, because that’s the goal, whether that happens with Catcher in the Rye or a movie or a tv show or baking brownies, that’s the end goal, to learn more about ourselves and others.
Nita Smith, 5th through 8th Grade Piano, General Music, and Choral Teacher at I.T Creswell Middle School of the Arts
I’m a visual learner, so for the most part with navigating my way through Schoology and all that, thank goodness I have some young colleagues at Creswell. The librarian is amazing. Whenever I have a problem I text her and she sends me back a video. I’m no longer afraid to tell somebody, I don’t know how to do this. Having someone there that I can reach out to through my phone has really helped, even though I’ve seen the videos and I’ve gone through them, like everybody, I have to look at them again, and there might be one thing that you missed that you don’t realize. That’s how I’ve coped, I’ve leaned on the shield, and the shield has been my younger colleagues, leaning on them.
What I’ve learned about my students is, they like me. I think now they appreciate me more. I know that because they log on 15 before it’s time for class. They’re waiting in the lobby. I know they miss me, and I miss them too. One girl looked past me, and said, “Man I miss being in that room.” And one student even said, not only do I miss you guys and Ms. Smith, I miss the people that I didn’t even like at school. I’m like, ok! The human bond is real, folks, it is real. And I think they realize that now.
What I’ve learned about myself is that if I push through then I’ll make it, and I’ve kind of known that, and even if I’m scared I just need to jump in there and just try to do it. I will continually work at growing and at learning, meaning that we’re supposed to be lifelong learners as teachers. I’m just trying to fulfill that mission, and I feel myself having grown from March until now, I mean, I’m a big girl.
The Educators’ Cooperative is a non-profit organization that provides a professional learning community for K-12 teachers. Created for teachers by teachers in 2016, EdCo provides professional development and support for educators to collaborate across sectors, disciplines, and career stages. EdCo aims to revolutionize teacher development and leadership by focusing on the essential agency, autonomy, and common ground all teachers share. EdCo is based in Nashville, Tennessee with a reach far beyond that physical location and potential for replication in communities throughout the nation. When educators collaborate, the future of education is greater than the sum of its parts.
Please visit educatorscooperative.com for more information and to sign up for our newsletter.