By Robyne Muray
As an historian, I never thought I would witness the life-altering experience of a pandemic. I believed our medical advances made us far more sophisticated than those living through the 1918 flu pandemic. However, persevering through COVID-19 has changed my perspective about who I am and what my professional future holds.
Teaching for me has been a 20-year career and counting of triumph and purpose. However, March 16, 2020, shattered that mindset. I found myself thrust with a gamut of emotions that were frankly overwhelming.
This year in MEA Voice, I will be writing a series on teaching and learning in the time of coronavirus. Initially I wanted to reach out to my colleagues to say it is OK if you are experiencing uncertainty. But as I reflected, my thoughts also centered on the legislators, the U.S. Department of Education, and anyone involved in the decision-making process of policy.
Michigan educators are dedicated to serve and educate young people. For so many, we go above and beyond to ensure that our students have the best equitable opportunity to learn academically, grow socially and emotionally, and be prepared for the rigor of college and careers.
We realize the best form of instruction is face to face. However, for the safety of our children we also take on the daunting task of virtual learning when this is the least restrictive option.
Too many people are involved in making policy decisions who do not have a background in classroom instruction and environment. This message is for the non-educators who are determining best practices for our educational system during COVID-19:
Have you taken into consideration how teachers feel when they see their students’ faces and their sadness at being unable to be in class or having to deal with the frustration of technical glitches? Has anyone stepped forward to supply equipment to ensure all students of the multiple districts are able to connect to online learning? Is there funding allocated to upgrade and modernize aging campuses? It is past time to quit complaining and start supporting Michigan schools.
To my colleagues, you are amazing! We are all on this path together, and it is part of our journey now to defeat the monster of our fixed mindset to receive the treasure—a sustainable growth mindset to help us move forward. The first task of my trek was a self-awareness check-in, writing a poem that helped me identify and grapple with the struggles, worries, and pain we are all experiencing:
I am From
(after George Ella Lyon)
I am from a Pre-Pandemic society in search of the “New Normal”
I am from living in a biological bunker also known as Shelter in Place.
I am from Face Coverings and distances of Six Feet.
I am from living with Pandemic Fatigue while others put me at risk
under the guise of their constitutional rights to be Free.
I am from a Conundrum of Societal Issues that is driven by misleading
I am from a Nation that seemingly is on the verge of destruction in the name of Reconstruction.
I am from the belief in Education, Observation, and Reflection.
I am from Resiliency, Tenacity, and Creativity.
I am from Solutions and Resolutions in order to grow, embracing
the natural rhythm of
Ebb and Flow.
Robyne Muray is the daughter of an MEA-Retired member and a Lansing high school teacher participating this year in the district’s Aspiring Leaders program. She was the 2018-19 Michigan Region 6 Teacher of the Year.