Untitled presentation

The Number for this year is 8

Susan Collins Uncategorized

SHARE THIS STORY: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+

8 learning models
8 first days of school
8 changes of lesson format
8 adjustments to the schedule
8 changes to the pacing guide

That is what my school year has looked like. I was scheduled to report to school on July 15, 2020. We knew that the beginning of school would look very different. COVID was spreading rapidly, safety guidelines were slow being released. There were more questions than answers in just about every conversation I was having.

After a few delays, I reported to school on August 10, 2020. This was when the 8’s started to come into my life. I felt like I was hardly getting my head wrapped around one learning model before we were embarking on another one. There were confusion, defensiveness, apathy, isolationism, anger, frustration, temper tantrums, sulking, and tears….and that was just the adults working in the building!

The road I have been on this year has felt like this:



I know most people who are reading this can relate. We all feel like this at times, the 20-21 school year has just had more instances, and everyone has them.

How do we recover from a school year that feels so overwhelming?

Kyle Bragg wrote a post about making connections that really resonated with me. I have seen an intense amount of collaboration during this school year. Groups have popped up on social media. People are sharing resources, asking questions, giving feedback and support. It’s amazing what happens when we step out of our comfort zones and admit to needing other people.

As an elementary music teacher, I’m isolated. There is no one else on my campus that teaches music. I’m part of the island of misfit toys at faculty meetings—they group all of the “specials” teachers together when we are doing grade-level activities. It’s just the way things are, so I am intentional about breaking that isolation.

I am active In social media groups for music teachers.
I instigate the music teachers in my district to meet together (we aren’t doing it regularly yet, but I’m making progress in baby steps).
I stay active as a candidate support provider for teachers pursuing National Board Certification.
I have started a music teacher cohort for National Board Candidates (and successfully recruited new coaches in the music field).
I put Twitter chats on my calendar and participate regularly.

I have to be intentional about breaking out of the isolation. It’s far too easy to stay in that familiar space because the outside looks scary.

Yes, sometimes the road looks like this:



I chose to look at the positives:
It’s paved
It’s wide enough
It’s challenging but not impossible.

So it’s been a year of 8’s.

I’ve felt like I was drowning.
I’ve felt like I was building the plane while flying a group of kids to an unknown destination.

But as my friend Nicole Wolff said: The Kids Will Be Okay.

I would add to that: The adults will be okay too.


photo Credits




Susan Collins began her teaching career in 1991 in rural Mississippi. She served in 4 different communities in central and north Mississippi as a music educator, mostly elementary general music with one year as a middle school band director. She stepped out of working full-time in the classroom for 9 years when her children were very young but never left teaching. She set up an early childhood music studio and taught music from birth to age 5 (with an adult caregiver). Susan moved to Kingman in northwest rural Arizona in 2016 where she teaches k-5 general music. Susan achieved National Board Certification in the fall of 2016, just after moving to Arizona. She has served as a 2017-18 Arizona Hope Street Group Teacher Fellow and a Candidate Support Provider for National Board Candidates. She is passionate about advocating for the needs of rural schools and ensuring that every student receives an excellent education. When she is not teaching, advocating, or writing about education issues, she is outdoors hiking, reading, and going to musical performances. She can often be found off the grid pondering her next writing piece!

Comments 1

  1. Jaime Festa-Daigle

    As this year comes to an end, I can not be more proud of the work we have been able to do to support students. However, the ask we made of teachers is very high. And there were many asks by many different groups. We have raised expectations on teachers, but we have not stepped up to the table to support those high expecations. Thank you for all you did each step of the way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *