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Thriving and Surviving / The Great Blog Resurrection

My last update was in April of 2020, which feels like it was a totally different lifetime. I suppose two years can do that!

The world is still a mess, but the SciTech Band team (or the SciTech Band “Avengers,” as our Director of Mentoring Anthony Diaz likes to call us) has made progress on several fronts.

1) We made it through a whole year of virtual learning and successfully maintained meaningful relationships with our students.

2) We are back with our students, actually doing band IN PERSON! (There were definitely days last year when I wondered if that would ever happen again.)

3) Our students have had two FANTASTIC performances this year – one in October and one in December. They are making music with remarkable dedication, passion, and excitement, and each class sounds better by the day.

All of this is just a glimpse into the incredible blessings that have come upon me and the rest of the SciTech Band Avengers in the past two years.

On the other hand, I would be amiss and totally inauthentic if I did not also share some of the challenges that we have been facing.

1) Simply put, students are struggling. It’s been a rough two years. For over a year, students were isolated from their teachers and peers and generally lacked this major support system of in-person school; many students lost friends and family members during the pandemic; several students had their living situations shift multiple times over the past two years; for these reasons, many students are traumatized and experiencing significantly heightened levels of anxiety and depression.

2) Largely exacerbated by a year of social isolation and other devastating events, students have an ever-growing psychological need for instant gratification; they are addicted to their phones and devices. This makes classroom learning difficult as students’ attention spans and stamina levels for learning are super low.

3) Student mental health (see number 1) is only made worse by everything I wrote in number 2 (see number 2).

It’s a lot. I repeat: it’s a lot.

Is teaching difficult under these circumstances? Yup. Are teachers burning out and leaving the profession? Yup. Is that terribly sad? YUP.

I wish there were one easy “fix” or “cure-all” for this new pandemic that we’re encountering in public education. And no one should belittle the struggle and heartbreak that many educators have experienced in their work environments.

Me and Ms. Lueth twinning on Twin Day at the end of December!

I can only speak from my own experience and what mindsets have been yielding fruit for me. At the very least, I have been finding comfort and success in focusing on what I CAN do and what I CAN control in my teaching environment. I always tell my students, “Don’t let what you don’t know get in the way of what you do know” (shout-out to my high school AP Economics teacher for giving me that bit of wisdom – and sorry not sorry for stealing it myself), and I think that it’s important for teachers to adopt a mindset like this as we navigate these challenges. As necessary and right as it is to contemplate the obstacles that stand in our way, we can’t neglect to actually do the things that we CAN do – the doors that are wide open for us, instead of those that we can’t seem to open.

We can be there for our students; we can tell them that we love them; we can share some laughs with them; we can tell them that we’re proud of them; we can praise and affirm the unique and wonderful qualities that they possess as individuals; we can encourage them to dream; and, most importantly, we can intentionally find ways to recharge our OWN batteries so that we can continue show up for them each day. Perhaps easier said than done, but necessary.

This year I’ve been realizing that, as soon as I start to consider the practical things that I CAN do to share my light in any given moment, I notice that I feel more empowered and capable of making it through the storms that might arise each day.


PS. Earnestly praying for all my teacher friends and colleagues right now and sending endless support and encouragement your way.

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