Before the winter break, students asked their teachers as they walked out to the buses, “will you be my teacher when I come back?” We all felt the energy in the air shifting from enthusiasm for some holiday time to the worry for how long the holiday would last.
Back to school looks different this month. We return to school at home this morning. Children across the province attend classes online instead of in-person. Teachers wake up to step into their digital classrooms. Parents wonder how they will balance working from home and supervising their children.
We return to routine, yet the routines will be different. We return to learning, yet the learning will require more diligence and perseverance. Change is rarely easy.
We are together in this master class on flexibility. I’ve learned that flexibility requires being open to surprise, embracing moments of vulnerability, and focusing on one step at a time. It’s natural to go through streams and rivers and oceans of feelings during change. We won’t fully understand the impact of this time until we pass through it. So, I choose to focus on presence.
By looking at one step in front of me at a time I can move forward with less worry. Today I go to work. I greet the day. Step One. Then I will look for Step Two when I arrive. While nearly everyone else is at school at home, my work today is at the school building.
Learning is change and learning isn’t always comfortable. It’s easy to demand a comfortable life these days.
My furnace broke over the holidays and I was reminded of the gift of heat. It isn’t until you lose something that you see it’s blessing. From hot water in my tea or shower to hot food from the oven to the heat coming from my electric fireplace, I was grateful for all of it. Yesterday afternoon once my new furnace was installed and heat flowed through my house again, I soaked in the warm air.
We can see now the important place that school has in our communities. Children and teens require the space to grow and learn together in person. The opportunities to learn online are good, however the opportunities to learn in person are incredible. When our young people come together the energy is electric. It is not something we can replicate in digital environments: the energetic pulse among people together that is invisible to the eye.
A couple years ago I wrote a back to school poem. Reading it now in the context of learning at home online, there is something in each stanza that will be missing from their week. New school shoes. High fives. Recess. Yet, an important ingredient will be available to them online: imaginative possibility.
We will get through. We will be okay. Our children will be okay. One step a time. It begins with Monday.