"If you are always trying to be normal, then you will never know how amazing you can be." -Maya Angelou, poet
Nothing in the world is “normal” anymore. This pandemic has changed how we view “normal”.
I have regularly been crossing the Atlantic Ocean for over 40 years! I have experienced trains, planes, direct flights, several connections, overnights, passport controls, lost luggage, luggage restrictions, pretty much everything you can imagine.
For years, I’ve been in charge of reservations: flight reservations, hotel reservations, car rental reservations, including all of the travel insurance needed to make all of this happen.
I know how to do this in my sleep …. Or so I thought!
After two years of non-travel, what used to be “normal” turned out to be abnormal and complicated. It was almost like riding a bike, only more like going from a tricycle to a racing bike. It was familiar, but not the same!
There was nothing “normal” about planning this trip!
First of all, I messed up the flight reservations! What?? How could that happen? I don’t know, but it did! I had me flying on one flight and my family on another flight! Luckily, I could change it (for a small fee!).
At the airport, I almost went to a completely different terminal because I misread the boarding card! What?? How could that happen? I don’t know, but it did! Luckily, I figured it out before we needed to board!
I also got a bit confused in our connecting flights, but luckily not enough to cause any delay or possible problems.
Nothing is normal
I was perplexed – I couldn’t get my head around how routines that were so engrained for years all of a sudden became difficult, confusing, and disconnected.
And the more I thought about this, the more I realized that this disconnection, confusion, and difficulty has also become recognizable in my teaching, in my classroom, and in my professional life!
For the longest time, I was longing to get back to “normal”. I was tired of all of the changes, the pivoting, the upheaval, the restrictions, the rules, … well, pretty much everything that challenged my sense of normalcy.
So, as we started to head back to “normal”, I found myself a bit lost. Getting back into the classroom was NOT the same, student engagement was NOT the same, interaction between students and colleagues was NOT the same – nothing was the same!
And nothing was easy! For years, I knew how to navigate my life as a teacher, and all of a sudden, I started fumbling and stumbling in ways I couldn’t recognize!
I thought that it was just the re-newness of getting back into the classroom.
But, as this discombobulation started popping up in other areas of my life (like traveling!), I realized that this was more than just an isolated occurence.
“Normal” was gone! “Normalcy” was not what it used to be!
Don't get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t want stability, continuity, or a recognizable daily routine – I DO!!
But, it’s not ever going to be quite what it was – especially in the classroom!
There have been too many lessons failed and too many lessons learned!
There have been too many pivots and too many turnarounds!
There have been too many muted microphones and too many “broken” cameras.
There have been too few real interactions and not enough personal connections.
Whatever was considered “normal” before has now changed! Some of it good and some of it not so good.
Feeling a sense of dread
And now we are getting ready to get back into the classroom for real. I’m not feeling the same kind of excitement as I usually do. (Okay – there is never an abundance of over-enthusiasm about starting back after summer vacation, but you know what I mean!)
Actually, I feel a sense of dread about getting back into the classroom. I don’t know what to expect! I don’t know to expect from my students, from my colleagues, or even from my institution.
Obviously, there are institutional goals, standards, and procedures that are as diverse as the students they are meant to serve. Some are independently defined, some are district or state determined, and some are government mandated. And these can change as fast as the recent Covid-19 numbers are changing.
Students are reentering the classroom with a variety of personal experiences related to the many months of corona lockdown, social distancing, and isolation. There are social, emotional, and academic differences whose long-term and short-term consequences remain to be determined.
What about us?
And then there is us! The teachers – you, me, our colleagues, and teachers around the world!
Normally, I would be excited about seeing my students again, getting back to my routines, teaching my favorite subjects, collaborating with my colleagues, looking forward to the normal ups and downs of the coming school year ...
But – after being the glue holding everything together, testing and trying new approaches, feeling isolated and alone in many of my endeavors, never knowing when everything would be turned around and upside down, I don’t have a clue about what to expect for us!
All I know is that being able to recognize what is normal is not happening!
Time to redefine
Therefore, it is time to redefine what normal means to YOU! to ME! to all of us!
This needs to be an intentional and personalized re-definition. Not everyone has the same definition of "normal" to begin with, so it goes without saying that any new definitions will vary from person to person.
So, what should you think about when redefining your perception of "normal"?
Redefine what you will accept as part of your daily normal routine and what you won’t!
Redefine what normal looks like in your classroom!
Redefine what normal feels like!
Accept that your normal is YOUR normal!
Whatever normal means, feels, and looks like for you is extremelty important! In fact, it is foundational for making sure that the beginning of the new school year has the maximum level of stability and continuity with a recognizable routine that fits you and your normal. And this will set the tone for the rest of the year and maybe even your entire professional career!
It's your definition. It's your decision. It's your normal!
If this rings a bell for you…
If you can relate to this…
If you are dreading getting back to school…
If you are looking for “normal”, but know it no longer is what it was…
Then you are not alone!
I have create a FREE workshop dedicated to helping you redefine your “normal” and create the ultimate back-to school REENTRY PLAN for a smooth back-to-school start!
Mark your calendar: August 5th at 1 pm US-CDT / 8:00 pm EU-CET.
After this workshop, you will be ready to
· Redefine your "normal".
· Reclaim your classroom composure.
· Reconnect with your students.
Be ready to get back into your classroom with calmness, clarity, and confidence!