Executive Director Dr. Kathy Wiebke, NBCT, reflects on the closing of the school year and 16 months of pandemic teaching and shares her ideas for what to do next.May 19, 2021
At the risk of sounding a bit patronizing, I absolutely love teachers. More than love them, I have a deep and profound respect for them. As we enter into the 16th month of the pandemic, there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel. Never did I think wearing a mask would become my routine or that finally being in the company of others outside of “my bubble” would feel odd and unfamiliar.
But here we are. Another school year is coming to a close and we are still in the midst of a pandemic. This year is a bit different as there truly appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
As I reflect back on the year and, in reality, the last 16 months, I have marveled at what teachers and school leaders have accomplished. Overnight, you turned classrooms and systems built for direct instruction into online environments. At some point, you moved to hybrid classrooms with your ‘Zoomies and roomies.’ For the first time since March 2020, many of you returned to your classrooms after spring break. I can only imagine what walking into your classroom was like. I wonder if it was like a scene from a movie where time stood still: The calendar for March 2020 was most likely on your wall; the work of students who are no longer in your classroom posted on a bulletin board; desks filled with the stuff from kids who are now in someone else’s classroom. My guess is some of you came back to the remnants of what was once coffee in a mug that made you ponder, ‘Do I keep it or just throw it away?’
In the last 16 months, you have been praised and vilified, sometimes within days or hours of the other. Whether we want to admit it or not, this pandemic exposed how much our American society depends on our schools to watch after and care for children while parents work. There were some that could easily adjust as they could easily work from home. But even many of those parents by winter 2021 said, “Enough!” even when the science was saying otherwise. There are reports that children have disappeared from our rolls, and I am sure you, like me, are wondering where they went.
I am hoping when we emerge from this pandemic we take a long look at not only what happened but what we learned. These are not easily solved problems, but the first thing we need to do is recognize that our schools and teachers can’t do it all and that is what has been happening and expected.As you close down for the school year, please revel in what you accomplished. Treasure the relationships you have with your students and their families. Then, take a nap. Read a good book. Reconnect with your own family. Take another nap. Binge some mindless Netflix shows. Listen to our Spotify Arizona K12 Center Summer Playlist. Take another nap. And finally, visit the Arizona K12 Center’s website because we have some amazing learning opportunities ready for you in the 2021-2022 school year. Figure out how you are going to re-engage with the Arizona K12 Center because like you we will be back in the new school year operating on all cylinders! But first, take a nap.