It's Day One, Again

There is no precedent or past to lean on and use as a guide or mentor for these extraordinary times. Tuesday, Mar. 17 was Day One: The Children’s School (TCS) faculty initiated our remote learning plans. Like schools around the country, and in many others around the world, our campus is now closed and I sit every day in my home office running a school from behind a screen. This is not how I envisioned ending my tenure, living and working in a two-dimensional world, connecting with others via Slack, email, and Zoom. For the grief I feel for our children, families, faculty, and even myself, there has been little time to absorb the scale and impact of what is happening globally.

A few hours ago, I sent the following message to our faculty and staff:

I hope all of you found time and space for self-care this weekend. Honestly, I can’t believe it’s not even been a whole week since we moved to remote work and remote learning. In this short time already, I have seen incredible sacrifices and efforts on your part to support each other and your children and families.. And, I know there is a lot that you wish we could have done and managed differently. It’s not perfect but we cannot let perfect be the enemy of good enough right now. These extraordinary times call on all of us to be nimble, flexible, and patient with ourselves, our families, and each other.

There’s a lot that’s being asked of you right now, at home and at school. If you’re not overwhelmed, then please share the secret with me because I sure am. I know, too, and I see it and hear it from you that we are feeling like novices right now, not always the experienced educators and professionals we are at other times. So I want to tell you in return that it’s okay. On some things and some days last week, I let good enough be good enough. It isn’t my usual stance but it’s what I could give in that moment. So I’m learning too.

There are important questions in front of us as a school, over many of which we don’t have a lot of control or even knowledge currently. I don’t know when we will return to our campus, whether we will have graduation like we always have, whether we will be able to say goodbye to our children/families/each other in person. I don’t know what the summer or fall will look like. So right now, my focus is on this coming week. I control that, as do you. I control today, how I manage and respond to the next day, and the day after that. Take one step when you can’t take two, take half a step when you can’t take one. And ask for help from those around you to take whatever steps you and we must.

(Maybe we’ll be giving out more than one rubber chicken award at the end of the year!)

I see everywhere the values of The Children’s School, in our community and on the news. Kindness matters. Compassion matters. Family and relationships matter. We matter. Our purpose has never been stronger or more needed in the world than today. So, I know – and now remind you – you do you and then TCS will do TCS.

I’m proud of you and I’m proud to be a part of the TCS community at this moment in time. Thank you for the awesome ways you continue to deliver value and on our values.

Good enough on Day One is pretty remarkable. One silver lining, if there’s one to this massive disruption to all of our lives, is the iterative and entrepreneurial thinking and action it requires of all of us who are not-so-secret perfectionists. Teachers like to plan and then tweak over time. Many tweaks have at least a year’s worth of planning behind them. Not so now. We have no choice but to offer a beta version now. So what was impossible yesterday is made possible today.

But in this quest to ship the beta versions more rapidly and squash bugs along the way, I worry if this technology-filled work life will trade relationships for efficiency. What happens when we see people as images and words, instead of their full three-dimensional selves?

It’s clear that this is not just a new normal but a brave new world for all of us. No individual, family, institution, or even a nation, will come out of this pandemic fully whole and the same as they were two weeks or two months ago. One of my administrators asked me on Saturday when we’d collect and apply everything we’ve learned, and still learning, to what school can be. The challenges and stresses overwhelm now, but there will be a time when we will recover and renew, and it will be a shame then if everything just returned to business as usual. But now, I replied, is not that time to apply; now is the time to listen and learn and do. Now is Still Day One.

2 thoughts on “It's Day One, Again

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