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Emerging Like Cicadas

May 14, 2021

By Jenna Fournel

Throughout the Washington, DC area people are watching and waiting with nervous anticipation for the emergence of Brood X, the cicadas that only come above ground once every 17 years. In a way, as vaccines become available to younger people, and COVID restrictions lift, it feels like we’re emerging for the first time in a long while too.

Cicadas aren’t dormant when they live underground. They’re busy growing, eating, and aerating the soil. Teachers and students haven’t been dormant during this long period of quarantine either. We’ve been wondering, experimenting, and learning. We’ve been growing in our intellect, inquiry, imagination, and integrity.

The world we’re emerging back into has changed, just as it has for the cicadas. Seventeen years ago their emergence wasn’t captured on smartphones because smartphones didn’t exist! One year ago many of us were still struggling to fit what we knew teaching to be into a video screen.

A cicada nymph must shed its outer shell in order for new wings to emerge. With these wings and a changed body, the insect can fly and make its singular music.

  • Where will we fly, and what new music will we make in the months ahead?
  • What will we keep from all we learned during this strange year of remote learning, hybrid learning, physical distancing, and collective struggle?
  • What will we leave behind?

Unlike the cicadas, we get to stay above ground. How might we use the knowledge we’ve gleaned over these many months to remodel the teaching and learning experience for children before the cicadas come back again?