life

The new normal.  
I've heard this phrase a lot lately. Repeated in the media, on twitter, and in conversations. It crops up almost as much as the word pivot...another word that needs to disappear. Even the meteorologist used it recently. "We are going to pivot into some warmer temperatures over the next few days." Ugh. 


But, the phrase the new normal bothers me. Why are we trying to normalize this pandemic? We have all made adjustments to our daily routines. We have watched the economy come to a grinding halt. And, now many public school districts are facing massive budget shortfalls. There is nothing normal about it. 

School will be different as the Fall semester begins. That much is certain. Students, parents, staff, and every stakeholder in education knows this. I am optimistic that education can shift away from high-stakes testing, but I worry that many of the services will be absent when kids return to school. Districts here in California are already planning to reduce staff. And, librarians and counselors top the list. Elective course, like art and computer science, may not exist in the Fall. 

It is difficult to see a way out of this new normal, I suppose. Maybe we are looking at this situation the wrong way. Maybe it requires us to look beyond the surface. Maybe something good can come of this situation and create a new and better normal. 

rights & responsibilities

With the current discussion around the reopening of schools and businesses, there is little understanding of how accomplish it safely. I understand that many business owners want to generate revenue and employees want to return to work. And, I know many kids want to return to the classroom...just as most teachers and professors do. But, reopening schools and reopening businesses are two vastly different notions.  

I do not have the answers. I trust the scientists, physicians, immunologists, and other highly skilled people to find the answers. Yet, the divide between science and politics is evident in this country. Some want freedom, and to "liberate" their state from quarantine, while others wonder what else can be done. And, I think the image below sums up this argument quite nicely. 

Either way, school will look very different going forward. UC, CSU, and many community colleges have opted for online learning (distance learning) only for the Fall 2020 semester. While distance learning is better than nothing, it makes me wonder about the pedagogy and the practice of learning online. Education as we know it is changing. For some, this is a good thing. For others, this is terribly frightening. For me, it just shows that technology alone will not fix education. Students have a right to quality education. As educators, we have a responsibility to shape it into something amazing. 

Each new craze proclaims that the house is falling down, even as it does nothing to repair the real, foundational problems…

William Rankin 

zoomed

I've been on numerous Zoom calls these last few weeks. Not all of those calls were productive in terms of "work" accomplished but most all of them were engaging. I think it is the social aspect of school that we all miss the most. There is no doubt that the changes brought about by COVID-19 have altered how we "work from home" or "learn from home"...and I imagine that these changes will have lasting impacts on the ways we view education.

When will schools re-open? If they re-open in the Fall for the 2020-2021 school year, how will the schedules be structured? I do not know the answers to these questions...no one does. And, I think that is the source of anxiety for many. It is all speculation at this point, but school will look different. NPR posted a great article on this with 9 possible ways school will look going forward. Each scenario comes with its own unique challenges.

On a lighter note: I have found that my type cabinet makes a great stand-up desk. It's the little things.

ch-ch-cha-changes

What a crazy couple of weeks. I am in the process of completing my Spring semester, wrapping up a full year of doctoral studies. A full year that includes a summer session. And, switching campuses...as Concordia University-Portland closed after 100+ years and I was tasked with enrolling at Concordia University-Chicago.

Then, there was a sudden shift to "distance learning" as schools have closed for the year. It's been a crazy weeks all wrapped up in a ridiculous set of circumstances. It's hot. It's cold. And, rarely it's just right.

Participating in a tonight's #midnighpedagogy session there was talk about the Goldilocks Option. That got me thinking that maybe this year is like the Goldilocks Option gone rogue: it's too hot, it's too cold, and sometimes it's just right. The problem is the sometimes. But, the sometimes can be sweet. I need to remember that part.

Things change. Options change. And, take time for the sweets. Like WuTan flan. 

*photo source unknown