I probably don’t need to point out 2020 has been a challenge for all, or the 20-21 school year didn’t quite live up to hopes and expectations. A timeline of adapting to digital teaching, fast forward professional development to keep the head above water, and remaining in an unsatisfactory state of fluidity could top the list of undesirable experiences in education. We could all spend a lifetime dwelling on these experiences and some likely will.
My teaching, classroom, and curriculum have changed more this year than any other year previously. Oddly enough, not due to the pandemic and not in a negative way. Maybe the pandemic put me in a position for the following opportunities or maybe I was just more flexible than ever before and willing to take them.
When a current student of Asian heritage told me she was too afraid to run outside because she didn’t want to get attacked about the pandemic, I was shocked into gear. While EDI is something we strive for as educators, I wondered why I wasn’t using my classroom as an opportunity to educate my students more about culture and social justice issues.
An accidental reach out on Facebook led a friend and fellow educator to my virtual door. Passionate about inclusion, wellness, and Traditional Chinese Medicine, she knocked down my door–maybe a whole wall, actually. Because of her, my students were exposed to a much greater variety of cultures with wellness themes. Pieces we took a closer look at were cultural greetings and faux pas, Ikigai, Moai, Yin & Yang. In for a penny, in for a pound. Other topics I had never before thought to or knew how to teach but could not be ignored included microaggressions, conscious & unconscious bias, privilege & prejudice, core culture values, and identity & personal culture lens.
In the fall I had a student teacher who was excited to revamp a social media lesson. She wanted to focus on influencers, I wanted to focus on an emotionally conscious state of use–so we did. We built the lesson and liked the result but it wasn’t quite as skill-based as I would like. So, this semester I grabbed my stuff and headed down to a colleagues room who specializes in media. He encouraged me to think about proactive & reactive use. Together we formed a structure that would set students up to create social media flow charts with scenarios, outcome predictions of thoughts & emotions, decisions and alternatives. This will also be a great practice activity to set students up for their final decision-making project adventure story. If you’re wondering, yes, that is new too because I wanted to do a better job with decision-making in social health which is our last unit and their last opportunity to show me their awesomeness.
I would love to have a conversation about or share what I have on any of the listed topics so please reach out if you are interested in something. I also need to express gratitude to the Physedagogy crew for leading the way in virtual conferences, all of the state organizations who stepped up to keep your people current for the changing situations, WHPE & SHAPE America for continuous PD opportunities, the Twitter crew & SlowChatHealth for support, education trends and new discoveries, and of course Mary Wentland (@PrideandjoyMary) & Jo Bailey (@LovePhyEd) who let me ramble until I figure it out or just plain impress me with their genius.
I hope when you look back at your year, you can see something good too. More than anything when I look back at the struggles and successes I have had this year, I see that I was never alone.
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