By Donna Davidson, Northwest Director for NDCTE Connected Newsletter, April 2020
Will anyone notice if I just don’t do laundry for the rest of the month?
Will I ever need to fill my car with gas again?
Should I bother showering today?
These are the questions I’m asking myself in the Age of Corona.
I would love to spend this time telling you about the amazing things I’m doing in class and the great resources I have to share, but I don’t have any. I frequently think about all the things I should have time for now. The books! The research! The projects! And then I spend the next 1200 hours scrolling through Facebook and realize that everybody else’s quarantine projects are way cooler than mine.
This is the tale of vacillating wildly between emotions. Sometimes I stare zombie-like at the computer screen trying desperately to be productive or lie in bed wondering if it’s worth even getting up. Other times, I work obsessively on a project for hours. I cry. I laugh. I cry again. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. It’s a roller coaster, and I’ve never liked amusement parks.
In our efforts to cope, it’s really tempting to always try to look on the bright side, isn’t it? We feel like we need to capture every negative thought and beat it into submission until it whimpers out something about a silver lining. Look on the bright side: my students and I have all learned more about digital connective technology in the past month than we had in the previous five years. Look on the bright side: at least it’s spring so we can be outside. Look on the bright side: we’re going to have so much more appreciation for all the things we take for granted right now, like time with friends and dinner parties and high fives. All of those things are true, but it’s also true that this stinks and I am not happy a lot of the time, a fact which no amount of positive thinking, video chats, or funny cat memes can fix.
The abrupt change to our careers and personal lives hits everyone differently, but we’re all in mourning for something—the loss of our students’ daily presence, the loss of our favorite activities, the loss of personal connection in our lives. We’re mourning the loss of freedom, of hugs, of toilet paper. So we, being the emotionally intelligent creatures that we are, acknowledge that loss, grieve, put it aside, and push on, congratulating ourselves for our resilience. Then the next day, we’re struck by that loss all over again, and have to grieve again and find a way to keep pushing on. And so the roller coaster rolls on.
I know other people have already said this elsewhere and better, but I’m going to join the chorus and advocate for not finding the positive in this situation for just a moment. Instead, be honest with each other about whatever it is that’s got us down. We will get through this with faith, hope, and love, but we won’t get through it without tears or frustration. We won’t get through it without feeling sad or inadequate sometimes, and we may have to revisit those losses that we thought we’d already put behind us. We may not be our best and most innovative teacher selves. We may not be as cool as the people with the fancy blogs on Facebook. We may have enough personal griefs to work through—and then work through again—that sometimes it’s hard to even think about teaching. It would be nice to put some great advice here, but I have none to give. I’m too busy mourning my own losses. Instead, I’ll just tell you that I love you and I’m proud of whatever you’re doing to make things work.