They Are Not Behind

I have talked to many teachers and principals this year.  To a person they describe this year as so much harder than last year.  What?!  How can that be?

Last year, they were instructing students who were not there. Teaching online in an education world barely adopting the digital reality.  They were trying to connect with students in four dimensions that they only saw in two dimensions.  Full disclosure: my wife teaches in an urban school district in California’s Central Valley.  I watched her last year doing everything she could to get her kids to click online, or even better, turn on their camera.  It was exhausting. She was tireless.

But this year is harder by one hundred.  How can this be? It is harder because every teacher, every principal and every person trying to serve every scholar in education right now feels like they are behind.  They are behind in English.  They are behind in math.  They are behind in social studies, PE, and Science, and even recess.  Person after person I have spoken to, note that Seniors are Sophomores, Freshmen or seventh graders, Sixth graders are Fourth graders and don’t even talk to me about primary and kindergarten.

It is stressful.  It is stressful because educator’s care.  They care with their whole heart.  Student failure feels like their failure.

This year feels like a failure because we are holding it in comparison to 2019.  But wait a minute.  Why? We are not holding businesses to 2019 production, or the supply chain, or any other industry.

Perhaps students are not behind? They are exactly where they need to be, given they have been enduring a worldwide pandemic for one and a half years.  It is absolutely astounding that our educators have persisted, loved, cared for, taught, and pushed our students to continue to learn and grow in the face of unprecedented struggle.

So, what if we decided here and now, no one is behind. They are exactly where they are supposed to be right now.  We measure that baseline academically and socially emotionally? Then, we go about setting some goals and teaching and learning our proverbial butt off (Sports analogy, we all need butts, but you get the idea), to grow to our next level or success.  Then we reach that, and we grow again. Each student, each class, each school.  We memorialize every WIN along the way, and we do this, over and over, and over?

Our heroes, the teachers and those who serve the students directly, feel inspiration not failure? And in that moment, we find the mojo in the classroom for every student because they start here, “You’re not behind. It is time to set some goals, strive to be better today than yesterday and get some WINS!”  Let’s start winning.