Certainties During an Uncertain Time

Sari Goldberg McKeownBlog, Self Care Better

TL;DR:

  • There are a number of certainties during this uncertain time that we can count on.
  • Some certainties we can count on are that we are resilient, communication is key, relationships matter, and partnerships between stakeholders and parents help students thrive.

Hybrid instruction. Zoom. Virtual open house. Remote learning. Material distribution. Virtual instruction. Synchronous learning. Asynchronous learning. Hyflex instruction. Google Meet. Breakout rooms. Distance learning.

Those are just a few of the many terms that have become a regular part of my 2020 vocabulary. If someone would have asked me what those terms meant a year ago, I would have likely turned to Google. If someone would have told me a year ago that I would become a virtual principal, I would have likely laughed (and then turned to Google).

Yet here I am…the proud #virtualprincipal of approximately 400 students K-12 and 35 #impressiveeducators. We transformed an auxiliary building into our remote learning center. A building that was predominantly utilized for ancillary activities, a summer program, and storage, is now zooming with life! It is truly inspiring to see how the teachers have filled this building with lots of love, laughter, and learning!

Just a few weeks before this unique school year started, I learned about my new role as a virtual principal.

That is in addition to my full-time position as a central office administrator. I felt excited, nervous, humbled, and extremely honored. Endless questions about students, staff, technology, professional learning, schedules, budget, and much more filled my mind.

It is so easy to get caught up crossing items off the very long to-do list. But making time for reflection is making time for growth and a better tomorrow. Click To Tweet

How do we provide the best remote learning environment for our students? Where do we start? 

Whac-A-Mole

It has been a month since we opened our virtual doors for the first time—the longest and fastest month ever. I have never felt so exhausted, yet so fulfilled simultaneously.

This time has felt like an endless arcade game of Whac-A-Mole. That’s the game in which players use a mallet to hit toy moles that randomly pop out of their holes. Every time the player thinks he/she has been successful, another random mole pops up!

Sounds similar to 2020, right? Every time we navigate one situation, five more pop up!

When things go as planned, I feel much more comfortable, confident, and in control. This year keeps reminding us that we can’t avoid the unexpected. The 2020 train keeps veering off the tracks….or in Whac-A-Mole terms, moles keep popping up!

Intentional Reflection

Reflecting is a practice I lean into often to help sort out, untangle, and process experiences. It gives me the space to consider different interpretations and possible meanings. I have been extra intentional about carving out opportunities to pause and reflect during this time. It is so easy to get caught up crossing items off the very long to-do list. But making time for reflection is making time for growth and a better tomorrow. 

My reflections have given me the room to think deeply about our new educational landscape and my role as a virtual principal. It is in those times of deep reflection I have discovered that all of us know more than we give ourselves credit for.

During this uncertain time, I have been reminded of the certainties. And what we know and value is not exclusive to one learning environment over another. 

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Certainties 

I know…

  • It’s about WHO we teach, not what we teach. #AuthenticEDU  Thomas C. Murray
  • There are nuggets of inspiration around every corner, we just need to look!
  • We are resilient! 
  • We can’t pour from an empty cup—self-care is important.
  • Communication is key.
  • The parent/teacher/district partnership helps students thrive.
  • We need to reach students in order to teach students.
  • The important thing is to prioritize the important things.
  • It’s all about relationships, relationships, relationships!
  • We are #bettertogether.

So no matter what comes your way, or what moles pop up, trust those certainties and what you KNOW.


About Sari Goldberg McKeown

Sari Goldberg McKeown is a lifelong learner. She believes education is about who we teach, not just about what we teach. Sari is passionate about culture, relationships, and learning from each other. She believes in the power of being a connected educator. As educators, we are better together! Sari has served as an educator in many K-12 roles for over fifteen years, including classroom teacher, literacy specialist, mentor, supervisor, and coordinator. Currently, Sari serves as a central office administrator and remote learning principal on Long Island, New York.

She is the co-founder and co-moderator of the #Read2Lead Twitter chat and Voxer group, co-founder of #UnitedWeLearn, and series contributor on the #MentorRoundTable webinar series. She is also honored to be a part of the EdCamp Long Island planning team. Currently, Sari is a doctoral student in the Ed.D. Educational Administration and Supervision program at St. John’s University. Sari is a proud wife to third grade teacher, Bob, and bonus mom to three amazing children.