Over the past several weeks we have worked with thousands of educators during our webinars. It has been inspiring to watch these colleagues push themselves to learn new technologies and strategies and rise to the challenge of providing for students.
Some impressive themes have emerged from our interactions with educators throughout New Hampshire. One is a profound generosity. Dozens of teachers and administrators have stepped forward to share their expertise, their struggles and successes with peers. Our webinars have met diverse needs because we reached out, and talented colleagues responded. This professional culture of generosity, an attitude of collectivism, and absence of needless ego fueled an incredible amount of learning in this unique time.
Another prominent theme which inspired us was a true “Growth Mindset.” While educators imbue our classrooms with growth mindset through our words and images, it is not often that as adults, we are thrust into truly uncomfortable learning scenarios that make us feel insecure and frustrated. We have just that opportunity right now- the invaluable chance to engage in that struggle. The educators that have joined our webinars, have almost across the board, met their inevitable frustration and discomfort with humor, patience, and optimism toward themselves, students and their families, and colleagues. The letters of gratitude, the suggestions for further offerings, the follow up conversations that we have had online, all point to the idea that as a group of professionals, educators are relentless problem-solvers not easily swayed by temporary setbacks. The tenacity and resilience of our colleagues models a high bar for those in other fields.
A final theme distilled from our experiences with colleagues in the last two weeks is resourcefulness. New creative solutions to pressing problems are born daily. Bus drivers and volunteers are bussing breakfasts and lunches, learning materials, hotspots, and computers to homes in need. Where parents are unavailable to facilitate learning, teachers are getting students out of bed with phone calls and helping students create daily schedules complete with check-ins every few hours. Where online learning and even email is unavailable, teachers are snail mailing assignments. In homes where English is not spoken, teachers are translating news, school work and health updates into a myriad of languages. Where food scarcity is an issue, teachers are collecting shelf stable products to drop at students’ homes. For students with specialized learning needs, teachers are devising ways to provide personalized instruction via screencast and online meetings, closed caption settings, and using household objects in place of typical manipulatives currently inaccessible. Galvanized by necessity, our colleagues are showing unprecedented levels of creativity and resourcefulness in their work to keep students physically and emotionally safe, and as productive as possible.
I have never felt more proud and inspired as an educator. The can-do attitude, compassion, determination that I have seen has fueled my devotion to our craft and to our educational community.
Karen Matso, MSW, M. Ed. Director of Professional Development and Lit. Curriculum