Reentry is one of the most dangerous phases of space flight. This is mainly because the spacecraft is suddenly unpowered. Due to friction, when the spacecraft hits the atmosphere, it heats up. That is where the real danger comes in. To survive reentry, a variety of heat shield mechanisms must work meticulously. If any aspect of the heat shield has been damaged along the journey, the spacecraft will burn up. Reentry is the best way to describe what teachers and students have faced as schools reopened for the 2021/2022 school year.
There seems to be no question that we have all developed cracks in our heat shields–in our resiliency and our self-worth as teachers, students and parents.
As both a participant and observer within our schools both public and private, preschool through high school over a span of 30 years, often what our teachers and students are going through, even under the best of circumstances, can be hard to watch. There is a perpetual tug-of-war going on, between academic achievement and graduation rates pulling on one end, and the need for nurturing, the mental, social, and emotional wellness and deepening connections between teachers, students, and their parents, pulling on the other end.
After a full school year of back to school, not back to school, back to school, not back to school in 2020, our teachers and students are feeling more than a little unsuccessful in both teaching and learning. Circumstances over the past year, COVID-19 and the personal traumas and tragedies that resulted, made academic goals difficult if not impossible to achieve. Self-worth of both teachers and students have been beaten down, many not meeting the litmus test of grades and achievement.
Suicide rates and mental health inpatient admissions have already risen significantly. And then there’s school shootings and gun violence. We need to do more than brace ourselves for the upcoming reentry experience. We need to prepare. We were all hoping for a more normal school year, but what we have experienced instead is a resurgence of COVID cases. We are trying to teach and learn with an anvil hanging over our heads.
Granted, meeting academic standards and benchmarks is important and well-ingrained in our educational system. But this year in particular, the only way forward is to set a new foundation on how to combine our efforts toward academic success while building value within our teachers, students, and parents by focusing on their other beautiful human strengths.
Rewarding and supporting kindness, positive attitudes, helpfulness, and caring is the best place to start to repair our heat shields, making reentry survivable, perhaps even shifting our perspective on education in the long-term. Placing value on ourselves and others just for showing up and shedding a bit of light into the mix each day is a big deal. How we show up for ourselves and others in the educational setting is a big deal. Recently I told a student that he was a good human being and that was more important than grades. He replied that he had never been told that before.
So how do we teach a whole new way of showing up? That is exactly what we need to do right now. When we get that part right, everything will change. Everything can be different. That’s when teaching and learning can happen at a whole new level. That’s how we can heal ourselves and one another. That’s when every day can be a better day for all of us. That’s when we will be graduating our future leaders with not only high academic honors, but with a deep connection to their own humanity.
Being a teacher was all I ever wanted to be, or so I thought. And I did become a teacher, guiding students over the years from early childhood to college and incarcerated high school youth in between. As much as I loved my interactions with kids, and the satisfaction level for me was high, satisfaction never turned to fulfillment. Not until I found my true passion.
Over the years, as I worked side-by-side with teachers, I felt the energy of their frustration. They wanted so much more for their kids then they felt they were achieving. So, it became my deepest desire to help make the day-to-day experience better for our teachers. It just seemed to make sense that if the teacher was having a better day, then by osmosis, much of the time, the students would have a better day, too. And the stage for optimum learning would be set. Well, we did it.
That is how, after years of development and outcomes, A Better Day Curriculum came to fruition.
I owe so much gratitude to those who jumped in and experimented with me, fueled my passion to make lives easier for our teachers, contributing wisdom and financial support. And now, as never before, teachers and kids need to have better days as they move forward to a full healing. A Better Day Curriculum power tools offer the answer to how to teach and learn a whole new way of showing up in education both in the classroom and online in conjunction with teaching academics. These tools are the universal heat shield that our teachers and students need right here, right now.
“When our young people know their value as unique and wonderful human beings, something good is bound to happen.” Sandra Alexander, M.A. Author, A Better Day Curriculum
Build up your reentry heat shield!