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We’re wired to deal with uncertainty

May 20, 2020 Jason Schilling, ATA President

Like many of you, I have spent a fair amount of time these last few weeks in front of the television, flipping between channels looking for something to entertain me. Now, I don’t always PVR television shows, so I am often stuck watching the commercials as well. One theme I’ve noticed among the many television commercials we see — from auto insurance to fast food — is the notion that we are all in it together.

I realize that “we’re all in this together” has become a cliché during these unprecedented times, but if there was ever a time when a cliché matched reality, it’s now. Here’s another truth: the measures we’ve taken as a society to flatten the curve and stay safe haven’t always been easy. I’m missing my family and friends and feeling a bit uneven from the stress, anxiety, fear and boredom that have resulted from being isolated. So for me, like many others, it hasn’t always been easy. 

This brings me to Saturday, May 9, when I was fortunate to see psychologist Jody Carrington speak to several hundred teachers by webinar. The 90-minute session zipped by quickly and one particular comment from Carrington really stuck with me: “We are wired to do hard things.” Like our students, we also get emotionally dysregulated when we don’t have a script, and with this pandemic, we are all working without a script. But as she said: “We do the best we can with what we got and that’s enough.”

So yes, living in uncertain times is difficult. As a teacher in Alberta, you know this well, as this entire school year has been wrought with uncertainty, and now this uncertainty is projected forward as we contemplate what a return to school will look like in the fall.

But like everything else we’ve gone through in these last few weeks, we will get through that together because, as Carrington said, we are wired for it. ❚

I welcome your comments — contact me at

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