Saturday, August 1, 2020
There's irony in the fact that "bandwidth" relates to both technology and mental capacity.... which means it is also ultimately tied to nature and the outdoors (for we all know that the latter is the cure for the former).
From a teacher's perspective, summer is always my season to regroup, relax, and rejuvenate. It's that time we teachers soak up, tackling those home tasks we maybe haven't gotten to over the past several months. (Mine right now is overhauling the basement!) Likewise it's time to read books (for business and pleasure), search out new ideas, percolate over our classrooms and curriculum, and even have a few adventures so that we can be ready to dive into the fall school year.
School is not now, nor has it ever been, a 9 to 5 job.
Summer 2020 ... much like the rest of 2020 ... is an beast unto itself, and the normal "summer things" just aren't the same. For me, I've noticed a direct hit on my bandwidth. Literally (technologically by way of my wifi) and physically/mentally/emotionally/spiritually.
It's summer, and yet I've spent approximately 12-15 hours both this week and last doing school work. Teaching professional development (PD) classes, taking other PD classes, reading, researching, wrestling with wifi, orchestrating, and organizing some real needs for my school, my teachers, and myself. Will we be in school, out of school, or somewhere in between with a hybrid model--and will it be safe? I know teachers who love their jobs who have resigned rather than go back into a classroom they do not deem safe due to their local Covid numbers. Likewise, I know others that are making sure their affairs are in order by making sure their wills are written. Just in case.
As my zoom meetings have moved from spring teaching to summer learning, it all heightens awareness. Perhaps only if we can prepare for everything! Typically, summer is a time to relax the reliance on calendars... yet this year I am religiously keeping a calendar so I can make sure to show up at the proper Zoom times. My calendar is peppered with white sticky labels as events get rescheduled or canceled due to quarantine restrictions. I've got layers and layers of labels covering up canceled commitments.
My brain feels much like that layered calendar, trying to keep track of what is and is not happening. I can't shake the feeling that the ground beneath seems to be constantly shifting. We're trying to be flexible, but there is so much uncertainty in the unknown. It makes it difficult to plan. (Teachers are big planners by the way!) Case & point: we're working on the 4th iteration of move-in days for my daughter's college. The lacrosse tournament we went to (masked) last weekend for my son was on it's 2nd or 3rd calendar date, having shifted a month or two later month than originally intended. In our house, my family is putting forth dedicated effort to follow the restrictive orders of "safer at home;"yet, after months of this it leaves us wondering why we are trying so hard to stay healthy when it's clear that others are not. Meanwhile, numbers of Covid cases and deaths grow exponentially. (Yes, there is increased testing, but the positivity rate in some states is downright scary.)
It all leaves a layer of frustration under the surface--much like my calendar sticky labels. It all piles on top, dismantling motivation along the way. Plus, social media and nightly news show us continued signs of racial injustice, peaceful protesting, reports of rioting, and stories of military-style secret police in major metropolitan areas. All the while, we carry our own concern for our own children, our own parents (some of whom we haven't seen in awhile due to all the regional restrictions), our own wallets and how the economy is affecting it....also on top of conundrums of "what's for dinner," "do we have clean laundry to wear," and a myriad of other mental calisthenics that keep us awake at night.
There's an overload in my brain.... all related to a lack of bandwidth!
The oft-used quote "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" comes to mind. But, the pile-on sometimes does more than just build character. The overload can weaken your immunity because there just are way too many things to think about. In the age of coronavirus, a weakened immune system is the last thing we need!
Now more than ever, as we enter August, teachers and students need to make sure to take the time to relax our brain. Parents and kids and the community as a whole does too. We need to schedule in more than zooms and work and planning. We need to take time breathe. To unwind. To unplug. To get outside. To get some sleep. To focus on healthy approaches like sleep and exercise. To slow down if have yet to do so. We need time to watch campy TV shows just to laugh! We need time in or near water to decompress and to soak up #bluemind to counter the non-stop, active, anxious, "red mind."
Without doing a combination of all of the above, we certainly aren't going to have the bandwidth as teachers (and parents) to make it through the upcoming school year. By all means, no matter whether we are remote, in class, or in the in-between, I sense that this will be the most memorable school year of our lives. It'll take grit and work to reconfigure the art of teaching school. Teachers are some of the hardest working people I know, and I have no doubt we will accomplish that goal. My hope is that it doesn't come at an incredible expense or loss--of our spirit, of our creativity, of our clarity, of our health, or even our lives. We love our students and give them our all... but we want everyone in our midst to be safe and stay healthy.
A wish I have for all of you!
Definition from dictionary.com; Images from https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-bandwidth-2625809, https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/570709/yes-you-have-too-many-tabs-open-your-computer-and-your-brain-probably-blame, and https://psmag.com/magazine/this-is-your-brain-on-poverty