It’s What We Do

“I think you should sleep on it,” my husband told me last Friday. I was holding my phone up so he could read the draft of a post that went something like this:

I wasn’t sure how I felt about having these ideas. On a Friday. In April. With two months to go.

It had been a long week. One full of hope and heartache, as I sat in on Crew meetings with anywhere from 4 to 17 kids present. As I coached teachers who describe their students, from the few who were turning assignments to the few they still hadn’t heard from at all.

As I watched my own daughter struggle with the weight of the world atop the load of remote learning. She’ll be fine, I thought. We won’t let her fall behind.

“Focus on math,” I told her as the litany of six classes’ worth of assignments left her frayed and frazzled. On a Friday. In April. The day after the announcement that we would not be going back this year.

But there are some who don’t have what she has, I thought. And even as she and the fraction of students at my school got their lessons done and turned in on time, there are so many who don’t. Who can’t. Who. Simply. Can’t.

The Matthew Effect becomes yet another side effect of our global pandemic. And people are walking around, asymptomatic.

So I did, I slept on it. I had coffee with a friend on it. I returned to work on Monday on it.

And I saw the kids who came in over the weekend. The ones who worked on Monday. Saw the announcements for Crew meetings and heard teachers’ plans for meeting with small groups and individual students to support them in learning this way.

These kids need us now, more than ever, I thought. And who am I to think of taking that away from them?

“We’re doing no harm,” I echoed my principal’s words in a PLC on Monday afternoon. “We’ll do the best we can.”

That path, the one that moves the able forward, was called the “moral and ethical obligation” in conversation today.

The draft of that earlier Facebook post tugged at the periphery of my preoccupation: But what about the others? Scratch that. There’s got to be an AND here somewhere.

Don’t we have a moral and ethical obligation to them, too? We’re crew, after all.

Man, this is hard. I want so badly to make this right, to balance the scales, to find the AND here. I feel it. I hear its whisper. I see its faint outline.

I read articles that rise above the noise of tech tips and remote resources. Articles like Jordan Baker’s Don’t Worry About Kids Missing School, Says University Boss in which Sydney University vice-chancellor Michael Spence said “he was not worried about students entering first year university next year without the same level of teaching as their predecessors because of the disruption to learning, saying universities always had students with different levels of preparation…

“‘That’s what educators do for a living.'”

I watch videos that strike a very human chord in the midst of periodic press conferences and staggering statistics. Videos like Gerry Brooks’ “Being an Educator During the Pandemic” where he describes how educators worry about the ones who won’t get breakfast, the ones who we won’t ever see again, the ones who are one, two, three, four years behind:

“That gap is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger because we can’t be there to help them.”

It doesn’t make it easier to hear my thoughts in the words of others. It does, however, make it better, knowing I am not alone. You and I are in this together.

AND.

There it is.

We don’t have to have the answers right now.

We can simply take it day by day, doing the best we can with the ones we can. We can, at the same time, worry about the ones we’re leaving behind. Because we will welcome them back with open arms, whenever that may be. We will meet them where they are, wherever that may be. We will listen to the stories of all they did learn, however long it may take. We will take them farther than they ever thought possible. All of them. Every. Single. One.

You AND I will do it together.

It’s what we do.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. cvarsalona says:

    We owe it to our students to provide them with the best instruction for all. I am also concerned about students entering the 1st year of college. Thank you for your deep thinking on this matter.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We will go on and do what we do, reaching our students, doing our best. But we must think about the inequity. It will leave scars.

    In a different context, I heard some reflections on this from an unexpected source. Lady Gaga spoke eloquently on the Jimmy Fallon show. (I know, what on earth is a teacher doing up so late watching TV… these are strange times.) She talked about hearing “we are in this together” and how that is a tricky thing to say… contrasting her privileged experience with that of a woman caught in an abusive relationship trying to care for her children. We can all become more aware of each other and how to be together. (You tube has video of the talk… it’s a few minutes into the interview.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Morgan says:

      Thanks. I’ll check it out.

      Like

  3. bbutler627 says:

    Applause! Applause! For real. I love the structure of this. The apprehension for the FB post is worthy of taking a beat. It’s a controversial stance on how to best attack this mess. I don’t think there is a best way. I think it’s a lot of deep breaths and giving the benefit of doubt to everyone involved in the continuing education of the nation’s children this spring. I mean, I was bummed the eff out yesterday with it. Then today, as my son’s teacher called to check-in with me & my kiddo, and I watched him fumble with a speakerphone and then fail at getting into the class google hang this morning, we had an avid back and forth, bickering troubleshooting sesh. While he did his thing independent, I thought about all these techy new tools we’re all having to become experts in all of a sudden. There’s one of the twists in the all the worry. My kid now gets how to troubleshoot while balancing Seesaw, Kahoot, Readworks, Newsela and Google Docs! I’m more and more impressed by it all coming together.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. cmargocs says:

    This is the best post on this topic that I’ve read so far. I currently work in a high-SES school, but my roots are special education and Title I, and I worry about those kids, too. My district is doing its best by handing out 8000+ Chromebooks and wifi hotspots to those in need, and I’m hoping the gap is lessened a bit by these efforts. But support at home varies–education, emotional, physical–and I worry, still, about the now, not so much about the future when we’ll be able to make a difference in person again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Morgan says:

      Thank you! That means a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

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