I have always loved the start of a new school year. The promise of a new beginning, new challenges, fresh faces and a fresh start more than halfway through the calendar year reminds me that every day is a new opportunity.
This year, that rhythm feels disjointed. School will be back in session, but there is so much anxiety and uncertainty about what it will look like. While educators and students are eager to reconnect and start a new school year, there are very real fears no matter what choices are made about reopening. We all want to prioritize safety for students and staff, but the global pandemic has left us with few good choices.
There is an African proverb that states, “Smooth seas do not make good sailors.” As educators and parents, we want smooth seas for children. We want to remove obstacles and protect them from harm so they can grow and thrive—that is an essential part of our work.
Additionally, we want smooth seas for ourselves; we like stability and order and control. But there are some things that are out of our control, and that can be very difficult to face.
Managing this loss of control and the anxiety that goes with it requires each of us to cultivate our own coping skills. And in doing so, we can help our students learn how to create their own “coping toolbox.” Every life has its challenges; it’s not a question of getting knocked down—that is a certainty. But what is important is how—and how often—we pick ourselves up and move on.
I am so impressed with how our members have already dealt with so many challenges and found creative and compassionate solutions to those problems. I firmly believe that the power of our union lies in our connection to each other, and our strength as educators lies in our dedication to improving our students’ lives through education.
I want to thank you for all that you have done and continue to do to support our colleagues and our students. We are learning to sail these rough seas together.
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