When Renay was in college, sometimes an upper class student would wander by Renay’s desk that first year and whisper, ‘eyes on the prize’. It was an odd mantra to a first year student in architecture whose personal goals were squarely centered on no longer being the student who managed to glue themselves to their desk. But that ‘prize’, be it vacation, dead week, or simply the grade they were working towards. Finding something to focus on and no matter how you got there would mean that you have come through on the other side.
We have rarely spoken about Renay’s journey in Architecture school, but this year reminds us a lot of the work that has gone into growth and maintenance of schools on Distance Learning and Hybrid. But here we are just the same. It is time to put our eyes on the prize. Certainly there is a lot less gluing oneself to a stool or a desk involved—at least we hope. But time to pick something in the near future to fix on and look forward to the goal.
Why haven’t you talked about going back full time?
There are hundreds of students who are not being served by districts at any point on a computer for a variety of reasons. Some simply do not have technology. Others do not have supportive families. And many others are just not students who are finding connecting to peers and teachers online useful. The solution of distance learning for most students means we do have to return to traditional education.
One of the honest reasons we haven’t talked about going back, we, as a society, do not have a complete understanding of long term health outcomes for people who recover from this disease. And to be fair: it may be a decade before we really understand COVID-19. The other piece, despite the concerns we have for people with extra health concerns when it comes for vaccines, we at ParaEducate believe in modern medicine and support the health care workers.
We would love nothing more than to be back in a classroom, however the pace we have been teaching at cannot continue. We need to address the return to school back from a social-emotional standing. For many students, returning to school will be met with mixed messages and everyone will be at a different place.
And when we finally do see our students, they will have to learn how to be students again. It sounds like it’s easy enough to do, but to do it right and to do the justice we need to get our students to turn around is a lot of long term work and we have to lead by example. Unfortunately, we have met many educators who do not share this concern that we can just pick up and run from the second we have students return to school. And for some students, that may well work, but for the whole student to feel connected, we need to spend some time talking about that unexpected gap year we have all just experienced.
But Wait, what is the Prize?
Well right now, it is the weekend. But we know winter break is nearly here.
It is letting go things that escape our notice and not beating ourselves over it
It is enjoying the time we have with our people who we are close to.
It is being that voice on the other end of the phone that is telling someone else whatever it is , will be okay.
It is opening up the break out room and seeing that students have messages of ‘hello’ for every teacher every period.
It is hearing a voice of a student asking for help on a math problem.
It is knowing there is a repetition to the progress we are going to make, no matter how small that progress is made.
It is knowing that we lay our faith in hope as the time of the year dictates.
ParaEducate will sign off next week for 2020. It has been an original year to say the least and that one is most definitely in the history books.
We hope you and your loved ones are safe and we at ParaEducate continue to implore you to follow your local government instructions not just for yourself but for your community.
And while we are at it: Eyes on the Prize.
If you have a moment…
If you missed the memo: Renay will be presenting this week for Supporting Inclusive Practices. We are highly honored and look forward to meeting you all there. If you’re interested in registering for this free event, check out this link.
One more thing
For anyone, the Holidays are challenging. If you need support please do not hesitate to share the numbers or call Suicide Prevention Hotline. Help is available in sign language and in Spanish.
Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online here, here, here, here, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during the academic school year on Mondays, unless a holiday or announced day off. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.