I’m going to cut to the chase. I was wrong. Not on purpose, but even so, I was wrong.
I’m the type of person who tries to weigh the effort against the outcome—perhaps this explains why I love the saying, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” If you’re not familiar with that saying, it refers to how hard you’d have to squeeze the fruit to get the juice. If you have to squeeze hard but not much is coming out, it doesn’t feel worth it to me. Certainly, no one who has ever met me would describe me as lazy, so it’s not about an unwillingness to do work; it’s about will the work be worth the effort.
Last year we were forced to create a hybrid learning environment because we did not have the room and staff availability to create classes of students to allow for all students to be on campus and maintain the state's requirements for social distancing. It was what it was and we all made due. As the year progressed, however, there came a time when the positivity rate dropped low enough that school districts could decide to reduce the social distancing spacing and bring back students to campus. Doing so would not be easy. Desks needed to be brought out from storage. New routines and procedures would need to be created. New bus routes would be needed. New seating charts for the cafeteria were required. The list is long on all of the moving parts in any organization—schools included.
Getting the elementary students back to campus was a no-brainer though. Remote learning, be it delivered synchronously or asynchronously, for a kindergartener, for example, is so clearly not ideal that it’s crazy to think that we did it at all. So when talking about getting the elementary students back, that made complete sense to me. Getting secondary students back was a different nut to crack. Since we intentionally got the elementary students back before the secondary students, by the time the secondary students were ready to come back there was going to be a difference of an additional 10 days or so for the students to be on campus if we went five days per week instead of the hybrid schedule. Ten days was about it. That’s normally the difference of about two weeks of school. At the time the effort to get kids back, to me, didn’t seem like it would yield a return on the investment.
I. Was. Wrong.
Getting students back to campus five days a week had an impact on the way people (students and staff) seemed to feel about the pandemic. The return to the cadence of five days in a school week for students gave a sense of hope that this craziness might be coming to an end. There was a feeling of optimism and, maybe even more importantly, a sense of normalcy. It also primed everyone for the start of the 2021-2022 school year. In September, all of us—students and staff alike—knew what five days of instruction felt like even with restrictions due to the pandemic.
I am not embarrassed or ashamed to have been wrong. Just the opposite. I’m happy about it. Being wrong is part of being human; we all make mistakes. I am also a member of a larger team and I thoroughly believe that the team’s ability far exceeds what any one person is able to accomplish. Furthermore, I have the opportunity to reflect. My thinking was initially about the effort to do the work and the impact of the work on the academic outcomes. I’m not sure that two weeks makes or breaks academic outcomes. However, from this experience I learned that it was never about the amount of time; it was about the impact of taking steps in the direction of returning to normal that mattered. And that is a very important lesson indeed!
P.S. This week, I've asked Dr. Sam Fecich (www.sfecich.com) who is an assistant professor of education at Grove City College, author of EduMagic a guide for preservice teachers, and host of the edumagic podcast, for a catch. Here's what she caught and why. EduMagic Teacher Planner. This is a $15 digital agenda that is designed just for new teachers. New teachers click here for a bonus! This digital agenda includes:
goals and reflection
websites and password record keeping
parent communication log
standards cover page
to do lists: starting the year, blank pages, ending the year
goals and reflecting pages
fall, winter, spring reflection pages
meeting notes blank pages
lesson plan templates
student data forms: grouping pages, differentiation pages