My teaching had to be retrofitted this year. I had to figure out new ways to connect with students and their families, ways to engage and keep kids engaged through a computer screen, and provide feedback. I can unequivocally say 2020 has been the most difficult year for me as the virtual teaching was a task nobody had prepared us for. There were many days that I felt no matter how hard I planned and prepared, something went awry in which I had no control. These two and half weeks of respite has given me time to reflect on things that are not in my control and things that are within my control.
The good news is that I do have control over more things than initially thought. I can hold tight to building and fostering relationships with students. While the synergy of being together in person is missing, I can control smiling at students, asking them questions, and being excited about seeing them on the screen. My brother in law said it best, “you just need to show up right now, and you’re doing that.”
I’ve realized that I can still plan and prepare engaging lessons, but will need to choose my attitude when the lesson does not go to according to plan. In pre-Covid teaching, if a lesson didn’t go as planned, there was always a back-up that could substitute a flawed lesson. With remote teaching, if a student’s camera shuts off because of her internet connectivity, I don’t have a back-up plan. My sequencing of lessons needs to adjust and I have come to the understanding that everything just takes longer right now.
In 2021, I am choosing to control my breathing. Breathing brings out my calmness and strength that went missing in 2020. It was buried beneath a pile of anxious rubble of thoughts. Thoughts such as, “I can’t do this,” and “This is hard.” Makes sense, after all, it is a prolonged stress such a world pandemic can do a lot of harm. I’m going to control how to manage my emotions and lean into my breathing that helps bring out clarity and strength, so that it reframes thoughts to, “You get to work with kids right now,” “You can do this,” and lastly, “It’s okay.”
I look forward to the day I can once again meet with students in person. For the time being, I will choose enjoy the lessons 2020 has brought with it.