Retool. Redesign. Reimagine.
Summer Advice for Teachers as They Cope with Educational Consequences of COVID-19
By Errica Dotson-Hooper, Manager of the Teaching and Learning Center, HCDE
As the 2019–2020 school year has come to a second end, many educators now find themselves stuck, unsure of what exactly to do next. The best of us are literally disoriented, asking rhetorical questions such as, “What just happened?” “How did I do that?” and “Do I want to do that again?”
Worry, grief, fear and regret fill our phone conversations, our journal entries and our late night thoughts shortly before drifting off to sleep. Never could anyone have imagined that this year would end the way it did. Nor could we fathom that the education system that we once knew, deeply flawed and systematically oppressive, would be doing a fragile balancing act, holding on to what once was, while trying to evolve overnight to what it should have always been. And while educators cannot control what their districts decide to do or become, they can begin to evaluate their own practice.
This is not the summer any of us imagined. However, there is an opportunity to rethink everything about how we move and operate in our school communities.
If there are any sore spots, uneasiness, or angst within us about how we were showing up, I admit that there is room and time to prune the weeds and to plant new seeds into this futile ground. The following are a few considerations on where to start.
Ask yourself about:
- What were you most proud of?
- What were you an expert at?
- What systems had you put in place that worked really well?
- What unique gift did you bring to the campus community?
- What was the hardest part of your day?
- What was the greatest frustration you held regarding your work?
- What was your biggest struggle overall?
- In what areas did you feel defeated?
- Were you getting an adequate amount of sleep?
- Were you eating well?
- Did you have a personal self-care routine?
- Did you have time to care for your personal needs?
- Did you have a healthy work/life balance?
- Were you making time for hobbies and interests?
- Did you have space to expand?
Consider these questions:
- What is easier now that you are working remotely?
- What have you gained?
- What have you lost?
- What now matters most?
Thinking deeply about the answers to these questions will help us define what has always been important and what areas have been in desperate need of repair for quite some time.
I believe what is causing so much trepidation, is that many of us are holding our breath, waiting for things to return to normal. However, it is time to embrace the fact that this current reality is the space and time that we must seize and move in. As a result of what has happened around us and in us, we are different. Let that difference spur a rebirth — one that will transform learning spaces and your legacy for many years to come.
Errica Dotson-Hooper is the Manager of Teaching & Learning for Harris County Department of Education. A native of Los Angeles, California, she is a graduate of Howard University (BA), Stephen F. Austin State University (MEd) and Dallas Theological Seminary (CGS-Christian Education). The Teach for America alum (Houston ’02) has worked in education for over 17 years in a variety of capacities serving staff and students in HISD, CEP, KIPP New Orleans and KIPP Houston. She is also church and organizational leadership strategist. She is a loving wife and a mother to a 5-year-old daughter.
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