When Uncertainty Brings Clarity

by Stephanie, April 06, 2020
Daily CHIRP from Natural Life.
We have all been thrown into an entirely new world. A world filled with social distancing, remote teaching, scarcity, fear and uncertainty. Here in New York, we’re working from home, homeschooling our children and frantically trying to make sense of our new normal. It’s a messy combination of fear and thankfulness, stress and downtime, reaction and planning. And some days are better than others.


When I first learned my entire family would be working and learning home together for five weeks, I was heady with excitement. I could FINALLY create a schedule for our family that worked. I could FINALLY create nightly dinners now that sports were put on hold. I could FINALLY live in a slower-paced time where I purposefully engaged in activities I loved.

Hhhm. That hasn’t happened.

Instead, I find myself even busier than I was before, teaching from home and working with colleagues to create additional resources to support K12 teachers as they teach remotely, all while taking care of my family and trying to teach my children about force and momentum as they teach themselves at home. And the adjustment wasn’t easy. I was stressed, tired, cranky and crabby.

And as I sat in my basement office typing away for others, I listened to the conversations and laughter that I was missing above me. And in that moment, the uncertainty of our collective lives brought striking clarity to my thinking of what matters most. Now, I won’t get into my personal revelations of how I changed the routine of our quarantined days to bring better balance and joy to them, but I will share with you how it has changed my professional thinking.

Quite simply, I’ve remembered my why.

Dr. Gravity Goldberg and colleagues hosted a virtual coaching co-op for coaches to come together for community and support during these challenging times. While I could not attend in person (I was already in another Zoom meeting, as I am sure many of you are!), I was fortunate enough to access the recording and was struck by one particular line: Consider how your why can shine through an online learning experience.

Now, I’ve spent the better part of my career creating learning experiences for teachers, particularly online learning experiences for students in a graduate literacy program. I love this work and I’ve worked tirelessly over the last few weeks to share my knowledge with other teachers frantically trying to shift their instruction online given the COVID-19 closures.

But I can’t help but think about something: If teachers were consistently involved in high quality professional learning experiences online themselves, they would have a clearer model to follow to shift their instruction online with their students. If we consistently used platforms and tools that valued connection and community over streams of assignments, if we consistently invited teachers to choose their own paths of learning in online settings, if we valued teachers daily work and digitally supported it in ways that worked for them, they might feel more comfortable doing the same for their students.

So in this time of uncertainty, I’ve gained clarity for my work ahead. More than ever, I’m dedicating my work to transforming teacher learning through digital tools and technology so they can naturally do the same for their students without compromising their why. Think authentic reading, writing and learning that earns professional learning credit, self-paced learning adventures through digital and virtual platforms, personal inquiry supported by coaching and think-tanks, virtual coaching to provide just-right-on-demand support and a community that surrounds it all.

You’ll find me blogging and posting about this new journey over the next few weeks and I hope you’ll chime in. What do you need? What support do you wish you had? What clarity do you now have that will move you forward? I hope you’ll share your thinking in the comments below and join my Facebook community for instructional coaches to continue the conversation.

Stay well!

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