What’s On Your COVID-19 Transcript?
Last night my twenty-one year old daughter gave her dad a haircut. She has frequently trimmed her own bangs, but has never used clippers and has certainly never given a full haircut to anyone. All in all, she did a pretty good job. Don’t get me wrong--we are eager to see our regular stylist Desiree when we are able to get an appointment in her chair. But like all of us right now, my daughter (and especially my husband) has taken a risk and tried something new.
One of my favorite authors, Brené Brown says, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” There has never been a time we have been more vulnerable or have taken so many risks. This whole Covid-19 situation has changed us as educators. The life of a teacher will likely not be the same for years to come. But just like our students have accomplishments added to their transcript each year, I would argue that we also have added quite a list of life lessons that will allow us to be even better at what we do. Here are a few courses I believe we have mastered.
Face Masks 101
Who knew I would be searching for face mask patterns on Pinterest? Discussions about whether to wear masks, how to wear masks, if we should even wear masks, and how to make a mask out of everyday items have become part of my daily newsfeed. My family keeps our masks ready to go when we make a trip to the grocery store, and we fight the frustration when our glasses fog up, but it is one more thing we can do to protect ourselves, and others. Just one more way we have adapted and learned a new skill.
New Technology Skills 201
Technology has been a part of teachers’ everyday lives for many years. I remember learning how to use an Apple IIe computer back in 1990, and then a year later being asked to start using a computer to enter grades. But this year not only did educators learn a collection of new applications in record time, but they also delivered instruction in a variety of ways, walking students and parents through logging on, navigating passwords, and finding ways to make learning authentic and meaningful. Was it seamless? Absolutely not. Was it pretty amazing? You bet your bandwidth it was!
Patience and Planning 301
Which stores are open? What can be ordered online? When will there be more toilet paper on the store shelves? I hate to shop and I especially hate to go grocery shopping. And not only do I hate the shopping part, but I also don’t like the meal planning required to make a comprehensive list to make a shopping trip as efficient as possible. So from groceries to cat litter to take out, we’ve learned to plan, use what we’ve got at home, and be patient when waiting for the delivery driver to make it to our house.
It's easy enough to stay connected with people we see and spend time with on a daily basis. But the quarantine has meant we see a lot more of some people and a lot less of others. Texting, phone calls, video chats, and parking lot conversations mean more now than ever before. I just finished an online game of Yahtzee with my mom, sister, nieces, and daughter. We each roll dice at our own kitchen tables and chat when it’s not our turn. I invariably have the lowest score, but it has been wonderful to connect with family even more deeply than we sometimes do when we visit in person.
Living in this upside-down world has changed us in ways that are obvious and ways we have yet to figure out. We may never be the same, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be even better. So while we’re waiting for a vaccine and building toward herd immunity, let’s not forget all of the truly remarkable ways we are adapting, growing, and thriving.
When this virus is behind us and we look back, I think we’ll realize we gained experiences and skills that will serve us for years to come. Spend a few minutes making a list of courses you’ve added to your Covid transcript. And if your course load is lighter than you’d like, it’s not too late to tackle a project or reach out to someone you’ve been missing. Like my husband’s less than perfect haircut and my low Yahtzee score, not every brave act will be a raging success. Maybe your transcript won’t be all A’s and a 4.0-grade point average, but your degree in living life will be worth more than any diploma.