Today, even with our best intentions, it is easy to sound like we are merely mouthing platitudes to teachers—especially when we say things like “we will all get through this together.” No doubt we want to be supportive and encouraging, but lines like this and others are starting to sound hollow—even to us.
Here’s what Superintendent Jason Berg of Farmington Area Public Schools in Minnesota wrote to his staff, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
It is easy for us to make lists of things we need to get done and if your lists are like mine, they continually get longer. I have made a conscious effort to make a list of things that I am not going to do. As I stated before, it will be impossible to cover everything you covered before and impossible to do everything you did before. I am telling you that’s ok, no really it is!! One of our guiding principles is “less is more with depth, richness and high cognitive demand” and in order for this to happen in the normal of now we will need to give some things up and not do certain things. Please take some time and list out the things you are committing to not do. I know this will be hard, but it is necessary given our current reality. We know that additional planning time will be needed to facilitate this, and we are looking at potentially adding additional planning days around the trimester break.
I know for some it will be hard, but please take some time for yourself this weekend. If you are looking for some ideas here are a few:
- Go for a run/walk
- Listen to your favorite music and sing!!
- Get enough sleep
- Take a midday nap on the weekend of course 😉
- Keep a journal of quotes you like
- Send an email or note of appreciation to someone
- Unplug for a set period of time during the day
- Read a book for the fun of it
- Watch a show or movie that makes you laugh
- Watch the sunrise or sunset
- Do absolutely nothing
We continue to be in a situation no one has been in before. I wish I had all the answers and could lay out a definitive plan for the rest of the school year for everyone, but I can’t. As educators we are used to having all of the answers and I know this is incredibly hard on everyone. Here is what I have learned over the past 6 months. It is ok to not have all the answers and it is ok to ask for help. If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or just lost please don’t hesitate to reach out to a colleague, teammate, or building admin/supervisor for help. Through all of this the one thing I am sure of, we are all here for each other. Once again thank you for all your work to ensure each student continuously achieves their highest aspirations while demonstrating responsibility to communities. Our community is fortunate to have such a dedicated group supporting our learners each day. Have a great rest of the week and enjoy the weekend.
The lesson: The way to give students a rich experience during this time is to aim for depth, not breadth. And because teachers and students are trying to teach and learn in an entirely new environment, there are already too many distractions to try to achieve everything they did before. In fact, rich learning will require taking things off the plates of students and teachers. This school leader gave them permission to do just that and at the same time managed to keep expectations high. He also showed his real caring for teachers by offering ideas for them to take time for themselves. We can all learn a lot from his example.
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