It wasn’t until last month—when I was putting together a Google document of the schedule and routine for my kids’ grandparents, so my husband and I could get away for a much needed mental health trip—that I realized how much I’ve just accepted this year’s insane schedule as normal.
You know the saying: Put a frog in boiling water and it will immediately hop out, or start the frog in cold water and slowly raise the temperature to boiling and it will eventually die from not recognizing the temperature change.
As the school year comes to an end, I realize I was becoming the frog in boiling water.
It wasn’t until last month—when I was putting together a Google document of the schedule and routine for my kids’ grandparents, so my husband and I could get away for a much needed mental health trip—that I realized how much I’ve just accepted this year’s insane schedule as normal. You know, on Thursdays and Fridays, my kids were distance learning with their pod, but the teacher was out on leave on Friday, so that day became asynchronous, followed by a Monday (also asynchronous) and logins for multiple school apps; then, on Tuesday, they went to school for in-person learning, but don't forget the digital symptom checker. As I typed the schedule, my shoulders tensed, and I realized just how much stress I’ve been carrying and normalizing this year: This. Is. Not. Normal. Yet, we’ve normalized the “not normal.”
"LET’S FINISH STRONG!
You're on mute. Go on mute. Turn your camera on. Your break is over. Class has started. Sit down. Stop talking. Say hi to your teacher. I need a glass of wine (said all the moms). Oh Lord, have mercy. You just had a snack. I will let you know when your next break is. Stop asking me the same question. Put your headphones on. Are you paying attention? What is the login? Where is the Zoom link? Do I find it in Clever or Canvas or email? Let me email the teacher. I can’t get in. I’m in the waiting room. We got knocked out of Zoom. The Wi-Fi went out. I'm off school. Do your asynchronous work. Focus on your own work. Listen to your teacher.
Ms. Greene is proud of you. I love you. I need to go now."
And now, as we start to open back up and return to more social activities with friends and families, in-person, I’m recognizing even more that the introverted side of me is on hyperalert and often drained as my event calendar fills up in between the many on-camera Zoom meetings.
As we roll into summer, I hope you, like me, take time to pause, to reflect, to journal, to turn off the devices, or do one or two things daily that bring you calm and help cool down that boiling water. For me, taking a moment to write out our schedule forced me to recognize the stress I’ve accepted and make changes that are in my control.
While I often describe my emotions as chaotic from this past year, constantly feeling like I'm one of the dogs in the movie Up, distracted and chasing down the squirrel, I am also grateful for the incredible personal and professional wins this year as we cut through the chaos of a global pandemic.
"Students learn best from students, teachers from teachers, principals from principals, and district and state leaders from district and state leaders.I remember when I was a principal, some of the best professional learning days where the ones where I got out of the way and I just let them focus on their problems and practice and solve that together. So I understand that concept of learning from one another. Share My Lesson really lifts that up."
The webinar was a breath of fresh air; Cardona is a leader who is a champion for students, teachers and families. And did you know that he helped add content to SML when we first launched? Check out the video below for the full clip and register for the on-demand session here.
Our new wellness series was also a personal favorite. It was the first time we veered from traditional professional development webinars and offered exercise and meditation. I loved bringing so many of our members together virtually to collectively exercise our bodies and minds through Zumba, yoga, meditation and nutrition. In fact, I’ve taken my colleague Kelly Trautner’s meditation webinar on demand a few times. My 5-year-old joined me during her session in quite a state, upset about his missing shirt, sock or who knows what, and he jumped in my arms only to fall sound asleep listening to Kelly’s soothing voice. P.S. Thank you mute!
Have You Heard?
Moving into a summer of learning, we have a lot to look forward to. From July 6-10, we are hosting our biennial AFT TEACH conference. Join colleagues nationwide for a variety of workshops and general sessions focused on ensuring students’ freedom to thrive with an impressive speaker lineup including:
A Conversation with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi Wednesday, July 7 6 p.m. EDT
Preparing Our Students: Civic Education, Engagement and Participation Stacey Abrams, Founder, Fair Fight Action Danielle Allen, Professor, Harvard University Randi Weingarten, AFT President Thursday, July 8 3:30 p.m. EDT
When the World Feels Heavy: Self-Care, Healing and Equity-Responsive Practices Dena Simmons, Founder, LiberatED Friday, July 9 3:30 p.m. EDT
Future of Public Education Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education Cindy Marten, Deputy U.S. Secretary of Education Fedrick Ingram, AFT Secretary-Treasurer Evelyn DeJesus, AFT Executive Vice President Saturday, July 10 10:30 a.m. EDT
Sessions will address key areas, including rebuilding academically from the COVID-19 pandemic, creating anti-racist classrooms, social emotional learning, civics throughout the curriculum and more. We’ll also be hosting wellness sessions and movie nights. Registration cost is only $25-$50 for AFT members. Learn more and register now.
And as you head back to school this August, be sure to head back to SML. We have an entirely new site coming your way, and we could not be more excited to share it with you. The new site will have the same great content but will be easier to navigate. Stay tuned!
And finally, join us on our new Share My Lesson Facebook group. We’re continuing our conversation and sharing ideas in our new private community for educators, support staff, and specialized instructional support personnel.
As you take time to refresh your mind, visit with family and friends you haven't seen in a long time, eat out at your favorite restaurant, or go on a date, know that we are here for you when you need us—not just to cheer you on but to be by your side for the coming school year, too.
To all the incredible teachers, educators, PSRPs, SISPs, and parents—thank you! You are an inspiration to all of us. May you enjoy the summer, sun, and refreshingly cool water and reclaim your normal. You deserve it.
Kelly Carmichael Booz oversees the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) PreK-12 online resources serving 1.9 million educators on the AFT's ShareMyLesson.com, the AFT's E-Learning professional development platform, and the production and dissemination of PreK-12 publication for the AFT's 1.7 millio