I am quite drawn to these images… “the long road ahead.” Lately, I’ve been taking many photos like these. It makes me think of where we are today and cognizant of how I feel. We are well into Week 10 of COVID-19 pandemic in BC. I keep saying “BC” because different parts of the world started lockdown and physical distancing at different times. As much as I am enjoying this time to work and reflect, I am struck by the idea that this is the first time I’ve felt separated from the K-12 experience. This is due to the pandemic.
I left teaching secondary mathematics in public schools in 2010 and pursued my doctorate degree in educational leadership. Since leaving, it’s been an up and down hill rollercoaster of letting go and appreciating all of the good things that my teaching experience provided me. I had some incredible educational opportunities in the last 10-years such as working on BC’s Curriculum, serving as a school trustee locally and provincially, and writing learning activities for FNESC and BC Open Schools. I tinkered with self-employment and consulting during this time, but I am really happy to work at the university in the teacher education program and graduate studies as an instructor.
I love to teach because of the creativity involved with planning and connection with students and faculty. I really love LEARNING and teaching at the university is an opportunity to pursue learning professionally as researcher, instructor, and writer. I have much to learn and I would rather explore, discover, and experiment than “be the expert” (which ironically is what the university strives for). I can be both expert and learner. I love the mindset of learning. It’s scary but also exciting. For the last 10-years I dreamed about returning back to K-12 public schools, even though it may no longer a good fit for me.
I cannot believe it’s been 10-years since being at the local high school teaching math. I have grown and learned so much since leaving, I don’t know if I would be able to return back to a secondary math classroom and resume teaching. OK. I just lied. I can totally see it and I can see how I have changed so my math classes would be completely different from before. That’s the exciting part about returning back to K-12. The not so exciting part is, not much has changed in schools since I’ve left. Why would I want to return to what I’ve left? I cannot teach in a bubble and do my own thing. We are all interconnected and our success is based on community and collective efficacy.
With all that is happening with COVID-19 and the suspension of schools after spring break in March 2020, implementing continuity of learning online and beyond, and the return back to schools in June 2020 using a hybrid model… there is so much stress, disruption, and sense-making that’s happening “out there” that I feel completely detached from it. Yes, I am asked to teach my courses remotely at the university for the Fall of 2020 semester (and asked at the end of Winter 2020 term to transition into remote learning), but I do not feel or experience the hype, uncertainty, and worry that my K-12 counterparts do. I am not there. I seem to be operating in a bubble… disconnected.
From where I am at, everyone is figuring out their path with the pandemic. I feel good being on the Sunshine Coast with my kid. I love being back in community. I appreciate where I am from and thankful to be returning back to the university for 2 more years (and compete for the tenure track position in my department). I’ve turned the page and starting a new chapter. It took 10-years and I have no regrets. Was it a tough ride? Yes. It was not easy, but I feel good about the outcome. In many ways, I am thankful for the COVID-19 pandemic because EVERYTHING HAD TO STOP and I needed this time and space to find clarity. I am heading into a new chapter and to do so wholeheartedly I had to let go of many things to move forward. Am I excited? Yes. Am I scared? Yes.