Get back to where you once belonged—or not?

Before I get to my topic of today—what education might look like in the future—I just want to ask the CA Community to continue to be vigilant in how we approach life during the pandemic. To quote Shakespeare, “Now is the winter of our discontent.” Even without a pandemic, the winter months are hard on students. Our recent long weekends gave students and teachers a break and time to relax with families. The short days and cold of winter, coupled with academic pressure, mean that any winter is tough. This year, students feel more isolated. We are tired of wearing masks. We want to see and socialize with our friends. I get it.

But, I ask that we stay strong. Stay disciplined. Spring is coming. Vaccines are rolling out. More than 170 CA teachers and staff have received their first doses of the vaccine. COVID-19 rates are dropping, but CA continues to have positive student tests, causing many to be quarantined. The disruption is hard on families and faculty and staff. Let’s do our part, so we can “get back.”

Speaking of “getting back,” I have found myself getting lost in YouTube, mainly looking at music videos. I am a huge Beatles fan and am looking forward to Peter Jackson’s forthcoming documentary The Beatles: Get Back, that focuses on the Twickenham Studios session of the Let It Be album. Jackson has just released a promotional video on YouTube. These videos were recorded just as the Fab Four were breaking up. Traditionally, it has been thought that there was lots of tension among band members. But despite that, Jackson culled through over 55 hours of footage that capture a far more joyful band than has been described. We see John, Paul, George, and Ringo jamming with each other and having a fun time playing “Get Back.” As Jackson says, this will “put a smile on your face in these bleak times.” Look it up and enjoy.

As we do every winter, CA school leaders are thinking about how we “get back” next year. It’s hard to know fully what the 2021-22 school year will look like. There are still many unknowns. Vaccines certainly give us hope for a return to some sense of normalcy. I’m also thinking about what education looks like when we truly are post-pandemic. I imagine next year will feel more like a normal year. We will likely get back to our in-person traditions and community events. We probably will still have to wear masks, but athletic games, artistic events, and other community gatherings will likely take place. And, I can’t wait!

But, I am also thinking about how education will be transformed by the pandemic. Maybe we don’t want to go back fully to “normal school?” I see an opportunity to be more innovative. How will teaching and learning change? What will CA take away from the pandemic and do differently? Zoom—although not fun day after day—does allow us to bring in guest speakers from anywhere in the world. I recently had a Vietnam veteran who lived through the Battle of Hue talk to my students over Zoom. Is there something that we used to do and should not bring back after the pandemic? Have we adopted new practices during this time that have made our teaching better?

I see a school that will be more experientially focused. We will get back to more hands-on learning. I also envision a school that is more outward facing, in which we work to incorporate even more service learning into our curriculum. CA has always had a public purpose, but we can do more. I see us intentionally building up our community culture and reminding everyone of our shared values. I see a school that does more to educate students about civics and how our society functions. I see a school that more intentionally talks about financial literacy. Finally, I see a school that works diligently to be more diverse and cultivates an inclusive culture, where all individuals are respected, heard, and seen.

I’m sure you, too, have thoughts on how CA—and the world—look post-pandemic. Please email me your thoughts. I am looking forward to “getting back” to engaging in person with our community in these conversations about the place we know is where we all belong.