I woke up this morning realizing that today is my graduation day. I am graduating with a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies degree as a Reading Specialist major. It was so important to me that it did not even make it into my empty calendar. I have exactly zero plans to celebrate my achievement, unless you count the congratulatory comment I posted this morning on my cohort’s Facebook page. No cap and gown. No family dinner to mark the achievement. No photo opportunity with my cohort. No raging keg party in my backyard. Nothing.
Please don’t misunderstand me. This is not because my family is inconsiderate or that COVID-19 ruined my plans. This lack of acknowledgment is completely on me. I downplayed my achievement to everyone, stating that I was fine with not celebrating. There are more important things going on in the world right now…
But then I woke up this morning and I thought about Brene Brown. If you are unfamiliar with Brene’s work, this will change today! She is my latest inspiration because she reminds us all that vulnerability is a blessing. Yes, you read that correctly. She defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure” and tells us that “courage and curiosity are born of vulnerability.” To me, this equals a blessing.
So, I went onto YouTube and I watched her graduation speech to the University of Texas, initially thinking that I could acknowledge my graduation with some words of wisdom. I highly recommend that you watch it now. It is for everyone right now, although I would like to think she was talking directly to me.
So, I am going to take what I learned from Brene Brown and share my wisdom with my fellow cohort members…After all, this is our graduation day and we are all feeling a little vulnerable!
It is time for us to “get back up and begin again.” We have experienced setbacks or failures in the past few weeks. Some of us need to take some extra time to finish our practicum or research project, others are submitting our paperwork for the umpteenth time and we all received an empty diploma holder… What a waste of postage!
Remote teaching is definitely not what we signed up for. The most rewarding parts of our job are the connections we make with students and colleagues and the sense of accomplishment we feel when our students demonstrate their new learning. We need our volumes of books and materials that are safely stored in our schools. We miss our classrooms, colleagues, materials and students!
We have failed. Failed to get our students to attend our online classes or Google Meets. Failed to get our students to turn in work, with about 50% of our students considered “virtual drop outs!” Failed to teach the state standards needed to complete the grade or subject level. Failed to learn how to use technology efficiently. Failed to give our own family the time and attention they deserve. Failed to put on make-up and do our hair everyday!
But, Brene Brown tells us that in every failed or set back experience is a gift because we have the opportunity to learn something from it. So what can we learn from COVID-19 experience? You still matter as a teacher. Your connections to students are important, but your connections to families are even more important right now. They are the ones who need your expertise and support. Your efforts are making a difference to the 50% of students who are participating in your remote lessons. You have learned to use technology in ways you never even thought of before. Your family will be ok. You are modeling to them the importance of vulnerability, failure and resilience by being courageous and curious. You will do your hair and make-up again everyday because we will return to the classroom “when the world readies itself for our plans”…
Congratulations to my amazing cohort! “Let’s get back up and begin again” as Reading Specialists!