An Open Letter to America’s Educators for the 2021-22 School Year

Hey y’all,

I hope you are all taking some time to relax, refresh, and rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit this summer. After teaching and leading during a global pandemic, I believe self-care isn’t just a good idea, but necessary to be your best self. If I’ve learned nothing else during COVID-19, I’ve learned to protect my mental health and to take mine and that of others seriously. Our wellness-mind, body, and spirit-matters.

But that’s not why I’m writing this letter. I’m writing to plead with each of you. Please promise me that you will not return to the past, “go back to normal,” or relish in the comfort of teaching, learning, and leading in the same ways you did pre-COViD. I feel compelled to remind you of the enormous opportunity we have before us. We know that many of those practices and routines we were allegiant to pre-COViD were not working-for our students, our families, or us! Yet, it can be so tempting to seek comfort, and especially so in times of uncertainty.

I’ll be the first to admit it: the future of public education is unclear. However, I hope we embrace this as a chance to create the future we know our students, their families, and our fellow educators so desperately need. This is an opportunity to finally abandon a system of mass learning, teaching to the middle, and conditioning students to care more about their G.P.A. than their passions. Let’s use this as an opportunity to design an education system that helps children find the intersection of their most competent skills and passions, to design meaningful and relevant learning experiences, that have timeless value and enduring lessons.

I know what you’re thinking. How do we do that? What about the tests? What about school report cards? What if it doesn’t work? What if we fail?

I’d like to counter those thoughts by asking these questions: Why not? What if we improve the system for all involved? What if we redefine success? What if we create a new way of thinking about public education, it’s’ purpose, and value? What if we create a spark that draws the best and brightest minds to our profession? What if are children end up more ready for life that they’ve ever been before?

As much as we find comfort in routine, I hope we find the courage and execute the bravery it takes to chart a new course. We are either held hostage by our fear or made free by our courage. I’m choosing courage. Who’s with me? Our children deserve it. Our families deserve it. Our profession deserves it. We deserve a new day in public education. Look forward!

Until next time, be you! Be true! Be a hope builder!

Latoya

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