Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Challenge of Teaching Like an Artist

The past year was difficult for everyone. Not that it was any worse for me personally, or as an educator, but it did certainly pose a unique challenge in my line of work. As an instructional tech, I had built somewhat of a platform about teaching to inspire. It was the basis of my presentations and my blogs.

Inspiring? As any teacher will tell you, trying to do school in any way the past year was anything but inspiring.

It was exactly a year ago that we learned schools would be shut down in our state. I had been at an ed-tech conference the day before. It was supposed to take two days. Instead, they tried heroically to put together some virtual options for the first day and they canceled the second.

My school closed a day early, so we could get a plan together. I was very happy with what the leaders and teachers from our small district accomplished in a mere four days. By March 17th, we rolled out a K-12 plan to keep in touch with students for what we hoped would be just a couple weeks.

Of course, we never returned to school that year. In those weeks that followed, I learned just how far the teachers in my district were from actually making online learning work. That's not an insult to them. Most schools were in the same situation. I did think we would have been a little more prepared, given the twelve years I worked in the district to help them do just that. 

I still maintain that if we had been prepared, it would have given our students a huge advantage. It's a relatively small number, but imagine those students who already had the skills and discipline to learn on their own when schools shut down. When almost every student was facing a setback, it was an opportunity for them to forge ahead. 

While I'd never hope for (or even imagine) such a drastic turn of events that brought us to that point, I hoped I was helping teachers and students be prepared for such opportunities. Being able to learn is a necessary skill for success in today's world. We've known that for years. I hoped I was helping teachers help students get ready. Weeks on end of non-stop work in the district served only to remind me how badly I'd missed that goal.

Followers of my work might remember I was even finishing my 2020 edition of my Teaching Like an Artist Journal. Yeah, that never came together. I was hours away from having it ready, but it was the first of many "why bother" moments that followed.

I've posted three times on this blog in the past year (counting this post). In December the bill comes up to renew the domain. I seriously considered letting it go. 

I decided this won't be forever. If anything I ever wrote here mattered, persistence now will be required to find out its value. A mere three posts a year show that I didn't persist very well. For today, though, I've had the courage to try again.

I'll try again tomorrow, too.