By Aleta Margolis, Founder and President, Center for Inspired Teaching
Hooray for Monday is a new blog series we’ll be posting each week with questions, ideas, reflections, and actions we can all take to remodel the school experience for students.
A few days ago I was speaking with a friend who has been a teacher and school administrator for over 2 decades. I asked her: Which of your beliefs have grown stronger during these past few months; and which have begun to change? She said the events of the past few months have strengthened her belief that young people can and must take on leadership roles in communities and classrooms. In answering the second part of the question, she said she used to believe that in order for authentic, meaningful learning to take place, it had to happen in person. Now, in August 2020, based on the innovative ideas and plans she’s seen from her teaching colleagues, she believes that we don’t have to be in the same room with our students in order to engage them, build meaningful relationships, and support inquiry-based and student-led learning. I have come around in this belief as well.
Teachers are the most creative problems solvers on the planet. We adapt continuously to new curricula and standards; we incorporate best practices as research uncovers them; and we recalibrate lessons and strategies in real time based on our students’ changing needs and understanding. We embrace our kids’ questions and ideas, get to the root of conflicts among classmates, and deepen our own understanding of our subject matter as new discoveries are made. We step boldly into the unknown – while the Pythagorean Theorem may not change, the context in which we teach it, the students who study it, and the ways they understand and apply it change dramatically year after year.
And so, as we sit in our bedrooms and basements this week peering into our screens, preparing to greet the young faces who will soon peer back at us, we will create, we will learn, and we will grow, just as we always have.
We will embrace hope, proclaiming “Hooray for Monday!” even as we embark upon a school year with endless challenges and unknowns. And we will also treat ourselves with kindness and compassion, gently reminding ourselves that we aren’t supposed to have everything figured out, yet. In fact, learning alongside our students, sharing our successes and our struggles, and listening attentively to theirs, is what will make this school year matter.
Together with our colleagues and students as our co-conspirators, we will achieve things currently unimagined. That has always been our work, and this year will be no exception.