It’s easy to complain, shake heads in disbelief, and be sad when presented with the unknown. Been there, done that! As I watch the daily news briefings and venture outside wearing a mask and Latex gloves to walk the dog, I could easily be consumed by frustration, sadness, anxiety, and uncertainty. However, when I notice the geese hanging out in the river and the kids who scoot by on the walkway riding their bikes, I am reminded that we live in a beautiful world. Although we don’t always choose personal and professional events, let’s collectively see beyond the pitfalls and uncertainties and find the time to “celebrate the successes.”
Before COVID-19, one of my husband’s friends joked about my ridiculous work schedule by asking “Where’s Waldo Karten off to this week?” Now, that I’m home more, I’m not lost in that crowd that surrounded Waldo. Good thing, because ‘Waldo’ is the antithesis of the six feet apart mantra that the medical experts recommend. So, by traveling less for professional development, I can be introspective, creative, nostalgic, and hone my social distancing skills. The silver lining is that I have more time to read, write, paint, cook, explore a new tech tool, watch a new Netflix series, and soak up some memorabilia. I host a video book club, conduct online PD for families and teachers, write books, and attend WW Zoom meetings. The best thing happened when my husband brought home a suitcase, he found in our storage unit that was filled with old pictures and love letters that my mom and dad wrote to each other in the 1940s, while he was a sergeant in the U.S. Army. Since I no longer have my brothers and parents beside me today, I viewed this suitcase filled with photos, letters, and school albums as their way of saying, “Hi, we’re thinking of you.” Under different times, we never would have reconnected.
The silver lining also connects to online instruction for students with exceptionalities. Distractions from other students are lessened, students on the spectrum who were upset by fire drills are no longer faced with that trigger, learners have flexibility on time requirements to complete work, and bullies have no one to bother in the hallway or at lunch. General and special educators who co-teach can still plan together to instruct the whole class by splitting the screen as hosts, or work with video chats and online platforms with cooperative groups and individual students for practice, remediation, and enrichment. Teletherapy is offered for speech and OT, and emotional check-ins are valued. Some students are even thriving. Yes, some learners will regress and lose skills, and some families are overwhelmed. However, the silver lining is that some children will gain other skills, such as how to do yard work, make a bed, and tutor a sibling in math. Families are spending time together playing games, telling jokes, and getting to know each other again.
Success includes an accomplishment of a desired aim. We have successfully forged ahead, without a “pandemic playbook.” I am certain that prosperity will follow. The rain here in New Jersey literally has finally stopped, just as I complete this post. Looking forward to a beautiful night. Onward.