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Off Script

December 7, 2021




If you are like me, time has been a weird, fuzzy notion during the pandemic. Meetings, conversations, emails are all jumbled up — “did I talk to you yesterday or three weeks ago?” Hard to tell some days. I attribute it to the stress the pandemic has placed on our personal and professional lives, along with the constant pressure of the president role. 

When ATA News staff told me this was the last Off Script for 2021, I was lost for a moment. How did we get to the end of 2021? Throughout my time as president, I have been logging the issues the ATA has been dealing with. It’s an interesting exercise to sit down and reflect on what a challenging year it has been. My issues and concerns list topped off at 50, but I suspect that will change as there is still another month left. There is never a dull moment, which is another reason why time seems fuzzy. 

I’ve always believed that teaching is a reflective practice — we are constantly evaluating our lessons, what worked and what didn’t work. When I reflect on the issues on my list from this year, four major themes emerge: Covid (vaccines), curriculum, collective bargaining and our students’ learning needs. I don’t need to go into detail about these here as you have been living these issues day in and day out. But let’s just say this last year has been relentless, though not everything has been negative. It’s important when we reflect that we don’t just focus on the negative or the things we did not succeed at. There have been moments of laughter, joy and kindness as well. 

Teachers have done amazing work this year and you need to recognize how much you have been through. Teaching during a pandemic is not easy, but teachers and administrators have tackled it with unquestionable professionalism. You’ve dealt with many things you probably never imagined you would have to deal with in your lifetime. I am still searching for that mythical How to Handle a Pandemic handbook in my office. 

One other theme I will note from this last year is just how much we as a profession have lifted each other up. You are the best part of someone’s day, the shoulder they needed in moments of weakness and the source of inspiration when you probably didn’t even realize it. 

You have made a difference and that is not lost on me. As we enter a holiday period, I wish for you a time of rejuvenation with your friends and family. Stay safe, colleagues, and happy holidays. ❚ 

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