Remember Whens

We will look back upon these fledgling years and say, “Ahhh, remember when…”

Remember when the thought of working from home was always something that someone else could do. I would never have the (what at times seemed to be) luxury of working from home. So many of my friends and family in other fields would casually say things like, “I wasn’t feeling great so I just worked from home today.” Must be nice, we teachers would say, inside our heads of course. Opening up and stating something like that out loud would simply bring on a chorus of, “Well, you never work weekends,” or “Whoa, stop there, I’d give anything for your work schedule.” The grass is always greener and there was no arguing any of the above. But still, the thought of working from home was just…foreign!

Remember when technology drove us apart? When it was deemed the big bad wolf. It took our attention away from the present moment. Drove a wedge into dinner time conversations, a wedge that grew and grew. It turned children into isolated automatons who couldn’t hold a real conversation. It sapped our ability to read maps and actually be able to determine if we should head North, South, East or West. Technology was the evil that was ripping families apart. Laying community to waste. We didn’t go out and walk or play. We just stared at a screen.

Remember when a pandemic was something we read about or watched in a movie or TV show? We would grip the arms of our chairs as the screen heroes wended their way through the red tape blocking their efforts at raising awareness. We would shake our heads at the denial in the face of the obvious. We would shudder at the pain and suffering. Wait in horror to see how it all turns out. We would know in our hearts that at least one of our favorite characters wouldn’t make it, but the others would be fine.

Remember when film stars were people who lived “someplace else”. They were from Hollywood, or maybe Bel Air. They lived in those homes you never saw, tucked up into the hills, behind gates, protected by the all seeing eye of surveillance cameras. They came out for red carpet events. We watched them on screens. We cried when they cried, laughed when they laughed, argued and agreed with their statements and causes. We sat in awe when they just leaped into a role and convinced us that the role was who they really were. We believed what they sold us, we hung on their every word.

Well, teachers, the future is here! And it’s a future we never saw coming. It’s a future defined by our remember whens. We now work from home. We reach out across the miles from the comfort of our homes and we guide our students and they learn. It started out a little rocky and the learning curve was huge but each week we put a little more polish to those lessons, refine those skills a little more. We embrace technology, it is the genie in the bottle. Little did we know that a device would mean the difference between reaching out and turning on our students’ minds and shrugging our shoulders and giving up.

And this future includes a pandemic. An honest to god, real, and irrefutable pandemic. Science Fiction R Us! We watched it come across the miles and miles until it arrived at each of our doorsteps. We watch our heroes fight back. We watch our leaders as they decide to take charge or not. It is a movie in real time. And we are the supporting actors. But we have also become film stars. Film stars to our students. As we one by one bite that bullet and film our lessons. Film our pep talks. Film our own versions of fireside chats. And we discover something important.

We can do this!

And when the time is right, we will go back. And then the remember whens will be the stories. The stories of our Remember Whens!