This is not the first time, and will surely not be the last time that the world will face uncertainty. In the last 20 years, we have experienced terrorism, both domestic and international, housing crises, and social movements that have shaped the education landscape that we are in now. In March of 2020, COVID-19 provided a new challenge that has and will change the way we look at education moving forward. What does that future look like? I surely can’t tell you, but what I can say is that highly educated and passionate educators will be more important than ever.
I have worked my entire life to espouse the meaning of what it is to be a teacher. My career began in the classroom more years ago than I might like to admit, and it has ultimately led me to my greatest accomplishment, the Krause Center for Innovation: A center that I created to help educators learn the importance of technology and how it will influence the students of tomorrow. Since 2000, technological change has happened at a breakneck pace that could make anyone feel uncertain. Yet year after year, KCI was able to make the participants in our programs feel like they could tackle the challenges they saw in their schools and classrooms and feel grounded.
Now again, it seems like change is happening at a pace too rapid to catch up. Many are fearful of what tomorrow, next week or next fall will bring. In times of uncertainty, I remind myself to draw on a few lessons I have learned over time as an educator:
- Control what you can and don’t sweat the small things. There are so many “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts” that are being thrown around that you can’t control. “If the parents would only hold their child accountable.” “And I have another thing that the district office is telling me to do that I don’t have the time or tools for.” “But why doesn’t anyone seem to care about my well-being?” Stay focused on what is important for your students or staff and make sure that you are doing the things you need to do to stay healthy.
- Things get better with time and patience. This will end. You will see teachers back in the classroom. You will see your students playing sports again. KCI had only begun when 9/11 happened. It was a time of deep uncertainty, and for a brand new organization, uncertainty is incredibly scary. But I was patient, and I continued to move forward with the mission of providing educators with the skills needed for the new world that existed. Twenty years later, I am happily celebrating KCI’s 20th Anniversary and excited to see where the next twenty years takes us.
- Use the uncertainty in your life to innovate. This is the time to do the unthinkable in your classroom, school, or district. Teach your students how to create a game using Scratch. Collaborate with districts or partners that you wouldn’t have otherwise done because everything was comfortable. Be the teacher, principal, district leader, or person you have always wanted to be. Being certain i s a frame of mind. The only way to get there is to take risks.
This will pass. You will feel grounded. I am certain.