What I Hope to Remember From Quarantine
At the beginning of our quarantine, I had some big ideas planned and thought I would get my boys clothes organized, deep clean the house, read all the educational books, make dinner nightly, and so much more. In all reality, we are just trying to survive, and not drive each other crazy every day!
As I look back over our quarantine time, I am realizing that there are many things that I hope and pray I do not forget. No, I did not get my boys clothes organized, or the house deep cleaned, and I am definitely not making dinner each night. That's okay. I hope your extending yourself grace during this time. We have never experienced this before, and checking those things off your quarantine to-do list, doesn't need to be a top priority.
The biggest lesson I have learned is to slow down. This goes for my personal and professional life. At school, I often feel a sense of urgency when it comes to my students academics. I feel pressure, that I put on myself, to get my students to a certain point, and specific skills in their tool belts. I feel pressure from seeing what others are doing, or what their students are accomplishing. I feel a societal pressure to get my students to a certain point, and beyond, even if it isn't developmentally appropriate for them. All of these pressures come from me. I was putting these unrealistic goals on myself, because I wanted to feel like I gave it my all 100% best effort all the time. Although I felt like I was giving my 100% best effort each day, that too, is unrealistic.
During distance learning, I noticed how much I enjoyed the little talks with my students. The stories they shared about their day. The conversations I have had with families. Of course, I hear these at school too, but I often overlook them or am so busy trying to get everything done, that I don't sit in that moment and enjoy it.
I want to slow down how I teach. I want to slow down my day-to-day routines at school. I want to slow down and enjoy my students being 5 and 6. I want to slow down life so I can enjoy my family more. I want to slow down and allow myself to breathe between leaving school and picking up my boys from preschool.
Slowing down during quarantine has allowed me to build more meaningful relationships with my students. It has allowed some of my students to gain more confidence and perfect skills. Quarantine has allowed me play games with my kids, go on multiple walks a day, sit outside and read a book, take a nap, which I never allow myself to do, and check in with my friends.
The second thing I hope I do not forget, is that I need to let all kids be kids. My own 2 children and every other child. Once children get into school, I feel like we strip away part of their childhood. We make them stay in a classroom for 6-8 hours a day, we force some to learn to read when they are not ready. We do all of these things that our state/country/society tells us is best, but is it really what's best for our children?
I have to continue to go back to my roots and remind myself what I believe in. I have seen student-led projects, extra recess time, daily walks, outdoor learning, research time, collaboration, and more, build my students confidence and gain academic knowledge through these experiences. These things tap into my students curiosity and interests and make school feel like their normal day to day life. Like when they dig in the dirt for worms, and read letters and words as we read a sign on the road, or help someone make dinner. They are learning as they play in these moments. These things have always been how children learn, and we cannot continue to stray from this.
My third and biggest lesson I do not want to forget is we cannot go back to normal. We cannot jump back into life and run ourselves ragged. We cannot overbook ourselves. We cannot expect all children to learn to read by 5 or 6. We cannot give 100% every day, because that is not realistic. We cannot go back to what school has always looked like. We need to push ourselves each day to make it better than last year or better than yesterday, while extending grace. I need to continue to remind myself that my best for that day, is simply my best. Whether that is 50%, 10%, or 80%.
We also need to be writing down what we are learning, and what we want to change for next year, in both our personal and professional lives. We cannot forget how we have changed during this quarantine time. This is a time of learning for all of us.
How are you going to show yourself and others what you've learned during this quarantine? How will you remember the most important takeaways? Can you write a blog post? Can you share a video? Will you change your daily routine and schedule? Are you changing some habits and your attitude? How will life look different moving forward? Let's hold ourselves and our friends accountable because this quarantine time was not wasted.