THE COVID-19 ED CASE CHRONICLES – Part 6, Hopeful Epilogue

Well, it’s been almost four weeks since my school’s staff submitted our students’ final-quarter grades, delivered our first-ever summertime (and mask-optional!) credit-recovery program for high-schoolers, completed our classrooms’ checkout checklists, and headed away for summer break.

On a late-July day like today, the school is largely at rest. The sounds of summer learning sessions and maintenance projects can be heard coming from some classrooms, but most of the building has its lights off and is silent. At this point of the summer, the school’s most concentrated activity is most likely found in its main office: there, admin/leadership teams buzz as they hire for open positions, play Jenga with the master schedule (go Tamra!), collaborate to map various continuous-improvement actions, meet with families of prospective transfer students, and on and on.

The school, in other words, kinda looks like a school on summer break is supposed to look.

While all that may not seem particularly remarkable, such normalcy actually makes me grateful-bordering-on-giddy.

These feelings exist because I can see real signs that, after the year and a half of pileups and explosions set off by The Great Covid Trainwreck, my school (and indeed, the entire education field) survived and can begin moving forward again. There’s wreckage to clean up back there and we took on some internal damage to be dealt with, of course, but the impact site itself is getting ever smaller in our rearview. At long (and very weird) last, it appears that we can get back to being what we wanted to be.

And as such, that means I can finally (and mercifully) wrap up the ‘Covid Chronicles’ theme I started at this blog a couple Marches ago.

I didn’t do as much with it as I’d intended at the outset, but hey: ‘“Aw, shit” time‘ turned out to be far more taxing than I ever could have imagined, and it dragged on far longer than I ever thought it would. (Also, the deaths of my parents–mom in September and dad in March–threw some other wrenches in there.)

Plus, if I’m honest, I found that the longer it went on, I just didn’t believe that I–or anyone, really–had many good suggestions for my colleagues in the field. My school just took in evidence as we went and adjusted on the fly to every new challenge. Whether the challenge was managing changes in state safety guidelines, spikes in the county’s positive cases, students who were completely MIA, mid-year staff resignations/Covid-related quarantines (I spent my final two quarters teaching six preps–grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11–and turnover at the school’s paraprofessional level roiled all year), technological issues, or whatever else, we did it all within our tunnel. As I only knew my tunnel, and as I doubted that our solutions and strategies would transfer across to others’ larger/smaller, more/less crowded, lower/higher needs tunnels, I figured writing about those solutions and strategies wasn’t really worth my or others’ time.

Finally, I only logged a small number of Covid Chronicles out of sheer self-preservation. The last 18 months didn’t break me fully down or move me to walk off my job like some did across the field (I mean…it sucked, but however painful education got in that time, we all knew it was temporary), but I can say that my professional challenges sure didn’t help all I was managing personally and psychically. The past couple of years have been the most painful period of my life, hands down. And as I’ve worked through it, I can’t say I’ve felt much like writing.

Now, however, with the deepest difficulties of Covid getting further and further behind us (oh please, keep getting further behind us), I’m hoping to get back to writing more frequently about all those matters I’ve always been most interested in: making instructional decisions that are more strongly based on evidence, improving schools continuously and common-sensibly, and such like. And just as my school appears to be snapping back into place, here’s to hoping that a return to writing will help pull me back into something more ‘normal’.

That said, below are a few items I plan to blog about in the weeks/months ahead:

  • My school’s ongoing curricular improvements. I’ve shared a bit about this in previous posts, but I haven’t gone into as much detail as I’d have liked about our design and implementation process, as well as how my first classroom experiences–namely with Teach Like a Champion’s Reading Reconsidered literature curriculum–are going.
  • Concerns for the 2021-22 school year, particularly with regard to our post-pandemic reality and the current controversy over Critical Race Theory in education.
  • The hopeful return of researchED US (likely in Spring 2022, venue TBD–stay tuned!), and concerns facing the evidence-informed education community as we move through the current, very challenging, moment.

Wherever you are, I hope you’re having a rejuvenating summer. You’ve earned it, for one, but the field is going to need us all to be at full strength in the year ahead. Take care and be in touch!

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