Thoughts on a Pandemic

Posted by Rob Dominguez on September 19, 2020

2 minutes to read

"Building the bridge as we walk across"

Overall, this phrase has been the best summation I've encountered when framing these past [checks calendar] six months.

Unreal.

It's hard to read that and imagine that we've been adjusted to this "new normal" for that long. I went back into my sent folder and found an email dated February 27th, 2020. The subject line was "COVID-19" and the body of the email was one question: "Are there any conversations [in the school] happening re: Corona?"

I really thought that would be the end of it; we'd maybe prepare a bit for a "worst case" scenario and then move on with our lives. Over the next two weeks, the frequency of emails increased and I decided to offer a couple of workshops for faculty. Really, the only goal of these was to demonstrate how easy it would be to record a lesson and deliver async instruction to students. Async. I wish the only context I still had for that word is its use in JavaScript.

Regardless, in a fashion that would soon appear again, an exponential increase in chatter picked up. It became abundantly clear that we'd be shifting to a remote setting for at least a few weeks as spring break was on the horizon. Since then, there's been periods of relative calm intermixed with confusion, frustration, and - for lack of a better term - depression.

While I imagine the same is true in other fields, the most difficult component to deal with during this time is the uncertainty that surrounds everything. Decisions and tasks that would have carried little weight or invovled few logistical steps have become Herculean efforts of organization and thought. This uncertainty has challenged everyone to continually be a force of reinvention; sometimes that drives change and innovation, sometimes that simply causes an exasperated breath, followed by a groan, coupled with an eyeroll and a few quiet (albethey often explicit) words to oneself.

Thinking ahead

It may seem too pragmatic to start thinking this way, but the post-COVID era is - hopefully - not far off. The biggest challenge to educators and schools is to fight through the "fog of war" we're all encountering and see what our institutions look like in that new era. Undoubtedly, there will be lessons we take away from all of this. My hope is that we're all able to reevaluate what school looks like on a daliy basis: Are there dated constructs that we can prune in order to make way for more progressive ideas? Can we consistently incorporate technology into our pedagogy to make our instruction more efficient? Can we create authentic learning environments that mirror the real world in the twenty-first century?

The answer to all of these questions is certainly, "yes." However, while this pandemic may act as a catalyst, it will be the actions of people that actually drive this necessary change. The direction has to be clearly communicated; those working towards these goals have to believe in the change; and, most importantly, we all have to partner together to develop a shared understanding that things will be better. One day.