The Dissonance of Change

We are experiencing dissonance in our lives. Taking time now to adjust & make changes will help us be prepared for the future to be ready to make changes to grow & develop. Every day is a PD day. #myPDtoday

The past few days have been a bit rough for me. I’m experiencing dissonance in my life from all the change that is happening. Like many people, being unemployed at this time is difficult especially when I know there are so many ways I could be helping. It’s a helpless feeling which affects me in a number of different ways. On top of this, our daughter who is a doctor dealt with her first COVID 19 death along with a number of other issues.  Seeing her face and the effect that wearing all the protective gear was hard.

Really hard.

I didn’t sleep well.

I haven’t slept well since that night. 

I usually don’t write about these types of things because of the personal nature. However, as people are dealing with all sorts of issues that are affecting their lives, I believe that it is important to share and provide a perspective for my thoughts about education at this time. As educators, our first priority has to be the well-being of our students and family. Right now, in homes all over, there is a dissonance. That dissonance is causing all sorts of issues, from families dealing with employment issues to people dealing with the immediate effect of their family members going out each day to work, from working at home to trying to manage their household or being all alone in isolation. There are families that are dealing with all sorts of issues as a result of what is happening during this unprecedented time. This is important. 

This Is A Medical Crisis

This is a medical crisis. It is not an educational crisis. It is demonstrating the inequities in our entire social system, education is but one of them. There is a need to make changes but right now, the first thing we should be focused upon is the human elements. Each family will have a different need and some will be greater than others. Parents are working from home or not working, depending on what is happening. There is the effect of isolation for an extended period of time that will affect each person differently. Right now, our 17-year-old son is having great difficulty not being able to be out to be with his friends. He is struggling more than the others with the isolation and being unable to see his friends. It’s difficult to watch. As a parent, I’m less worried about his academics right now than his mental well being. His academics will be fine. It’s helping him to deal with such a profound change and how he will manage his emotions through this that is of concern. This isn’t near normal circumstances for any of us. 

Slow Down

I’ve seen a number of posts on Twitter like the one below:

This could be so many different families. In fact, our family has a number of devices and we don’t have enough for all of us. Our wifi and internet are being taxed. And, we ran out of milk this morning. But we are trying our best to work through all of these things. As a friend of mine stated today, 

This needs to be something we embrace, especially when it comes to school and learning. Our children’s lives will not be ruined because they miss a few months of learning. In fact, for some students, learning may be enhanced because of the opportunities they have because of the time they have to imagine, pretend, play, draw, dress-up, play connected games, FaceTime with family, spend time reading, cook, build forts, and all sorts of other imaginative things. I know this isn’t all children and it is a privileged perspective. There are children in abusive situations with reports of child abuse on the rise. Children in poverty will have less opportunity to access food and medical aid and many, many other things that schools offer never mind the lack of access to the internet and devices. We need to recognize this and work on these, putting time and effort into figuring out how these systemic inequities can be addressed. And sometimes the schools are an issue for children in poverty and children of colour who experience institutional racism and discrimination because of the inequities in the system. 

Focus On the People

My main focus has been on exploring how the routines and habits we have enjoyed and come to rely upon each day have been upset, and in many cases, have disappeared. When that happens, the dissonance that people encounter is unsettling to their lives and their mental well being. We are in a prolonged state of dissonance. People are adjusting but it isn’t easy and this isn’t going to end soon. This will continue for some time and, I believe, will affect our lives and interactions well after the period of isolation. As societies, we will have some serious questions to address. In education, we will have to address many issues.

However, right now we should be focused on the well being of people and trying to ensure that whatever is happening in schools it’s not about “looking good” for the public or to “justify being paid while at home” but about supporting children and their families. This is about doing what is best for children and their families and supporting them through this crisis. We aren’t racing to digitize, we are racing to support children and ensure their well being during a crisis. Moving to digitize learning and building online connections is one way to support children and their families. Let us recognize the immensity of this situation and the residual effects it will have going forward but focus on the immediate needs of families who are dealing with incredible change. I am amazed at the resiliency of teachers, their creative capacity and their willingness to step out and innovate, especially during a time of increased stress and anxiety. But, they should not be asked to do this at the expense of their families or their own well-being. “Do you best and your best is enough”. We are in a crisis the immensity of which we have not encountered in generations.

Our  legacy will be how we treated other people, how we came together to solve problems and how we supported those who needed the support the most. Our legacy will be what we did with what we learned from this situation and whether it affected how we treated each other and our world. 

Take Care of Each Other

As I sat in the dark, my heart pounding in my chest thinking of my daughter and her experience, the feelings of helplessness were overwhelming. She is doing what she loves. I get that. My sister, a registered nurse, sent me this text the other day, which I have kept and read often when I am overwhelmed. 

I get it.

As a teacher, I understand this. Why do I do the extra-curricular, stay late with students, spend my Saturdays with students, and all the other things that teachers do? Because I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I know why teachers are doing what they do, why they are driving around with signs for their students, doing dances, setting up Zooms, and just being there for their students. Because they can’t imagine doing anything else. 

They care. 

Deeply.

 Profoundly. 

Until it hurts. And their hearts ache. We need to step back and pause. 

Allow teachers and families to deal with the enormity of this time. This is a period of dissonance where we are trying to make sense of what is happening to us. We will adjust and move forward. But we must allow people time to move through the dissonance or it will continue to create difficulties and they will not be able to move on successfully.  

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