As I was preparing myself to review and provide feedback on a virtual class I instruct my mind was spinning on some of the many challenges that this year might/could bring. What if? There is a political wave that is charging our environments, and no matter what direction we go, as educators, we will be impacted.
There is of course COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, weighing heavy on the hearts of educators. Do we stay out of the classroom, teach on Zoom, quit altogether, and what hardships will we face if an outbreak occurs. I, too, am factoring all of this. Today, though, as I was reading through some discussion questions for a course I teach, another conversation began to shape my thoughts.
What if? What if this is the year that redefines how we educate children? What if this is the year when educator voices ring loud and we change the face of education for generations to come? What if this is the year where we break down the walls of systematic educational racism that has been holding students back and truly create an equal learning environment? What if this is the time educational assessments are not defined by the standards placed upon us, but by the opportunities, we as teachers get to create with the humans sitting in front of us virtually or in person?
I had this moment, where I was reading about all of the ways that traditional paper and pencil assessments may not make sense, and another conversation begins to take shape in my mind. Instead, the conversation moved to a place of but we can assess, evaluate and analyze student knowledge by having students shop with their parents and then give us a presentation on how they figured out tax, percentages, and discounts. While we may not be able to successfully have students take a benchmark test, we can have students shoot a game of pool all the while videotaping or sharing online explaining how angles work. We might not be able to have students sitting in front of us, taking that typical assessment, we can have students create an online virtual anime series where we see the world of mathematics and literature through their eyes.
So, while I am tempted to sit in the world of why’s and when’s, I also want to acknowledge that this year might be the greatest opportunity ever handed to educators. We can re-define what education looks like. We can truly take learning outside of the four walls that define our existing environment and create a bigger picture for students giving them opportunities to study pandemics, politics, weather patterns, and community concerns. We as educators can work together to ensure that the world we want students to be a part of is one that is rich in literature, full of math manipulative and games while having the time to understand the impact that history and science have in the world we live in. We can take the time to teach in a way that combines curriculum with passion. I know it will be a challenge and that a tidal wave of doubts may come, but for today, I choose what if? How about you?