• Jeff Eben

Why Is This So Hard

How Many Wins

This Is Hard

There are no shortage of 2020 comments, memes, and musings. For me though, as my as I try to keep a positive perspective, there is no way that this year has been anything but weird. I’ve been around awhile, too. I’m just starting my 60th trip around the sun and I sure as heck haven’t experienced a year like this. From pandemic to unrest, the challenges keep coming and life as we knew it is a memory. As a person who has made my life in the school system, this Fall is heartbreaking because we can not do the thing that we do so well. So, all in all, 2020 moves me to simply ask the question, why does everything have to be so damn hard?

For the record, teaching wasn’t that easy to begin with. Managing 30 bodies for hours at a time is no picnic, and at some point in the day, learning something is supposed to happen. Really. Many of my colleagues have spent years perfecting the art of instruction to make sure that we give our students the best chance to succeed. Teachers spent a good percentage of careers in workshops, staff meetings, and conferences elevating their pedagogical game. None of it, however, until this summer took place on ZOOM! Yet, here we are, opening a new school year on this zoom thing that nobody had even heard of when school opened in 2019. Welcome friends, to 2020 where everything is just damn hard.

I supervise student teachers and it gives me a chance to see how different districts, schools, and teachers handle this new paradigm of remote learning. Certainly, each campus has a unique personality and addresses the challenges in a plethora of different ways. I do, however, see some common ground that doesn’t really surprise me. I’ve been around education my entire life, and I know a couple of universal truths about teachers and schools. First, we are a pretty resilient bunch. We have tough days, but we keep coming back. We aren’t the quitting type. We also are a flexible bunch. I have done this myself where in a split-second, we have to completely change course and take an entirely new path. Finally, we are masters at doing more with less. I have yet to meet a teacher that had everything she/he needed, but they somehow find a way to create magic for their students every day. So, in spite of all of the craziness in our way, WE GOT THIS. We really do. We will master programs in record time and become zoom efficient in days. We will find a way to build a community that makes our students feel safe and loved because that is who we are and that is how we roll.

Still, teacher friends, I am still the How Many Wins Guy, and I want to offer three gentle reminders as we continue on this path. I have no magic wand to make this easier. I do, however, believe in a set of core values that drives me forward with the belief that tomorrow is going to be a better day. First, remember who you are. On my best day, I’ll never be a tech guru or a zoom expert. I will remember that I love my students and will put relationships first. Next, I will remember to be a Team Firster. If I avoid working in isolation, I’ll remind myself how much easier the work and stress load is when it is shared with my colleagues. Finally, when I go home at night, I’ll remember to ask myself, “HOW MANY WINS HAVE I HAD TODAY?’ It could be the most important thing we do in a day and, even in 2020, it’s not that hard.