Photo by louis tricot on Unsplash

You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.

Marcus Aurelius

I am almost certain when classes across the United States were moved from in-person meetings to some form of emergency online teaching in March 2020 that no one wanted to admit it would be the last time we’d be graced with the presence of our students for the school year.

I am certain we weren’t thinking about the potential for drastic changes to the next school year but those conversations are already taking place with multiple scenarios being discussed at every level.

I’m also certain that, given the changing nature of our current pandemic and the ongoing battles to open up the country’s economy with wild abandon or to continue on with caution and respect for others, we are completely uncertain of what school will look for our students, their families, our communities and how we will proceed in education. We may not see students in class again for a long time.

Then again, we are faced with that same reality every day, even when a worldwide pandemic is not changing how we live every part of our lives.

Every day could be the last time any of us sees our students. This is an indisputable truth. You, nor I, know when we will leave this existence.

We do not know that, when we wave goodbye to that student at the end of the day that completely ticked us off in 4th period, we’ll be waving goodbye to them for the last time.

We don’t know.

Suddenly, we’ve been confronted with the possibility of not seeing students in-person for some time. Although it’s very likely that we will have classes again in the very near future, for now, we don’t know when that will happen.

The more I think about this the more I think about these questions:

  • How might this thought of not seeing our students again change us as educators?
  • How might this same thought change our students?
  • And finally, how might this change education?

What would we do differently if we believed that today was the last time we would be able to make an impact in a student’s life? What would we say? How would our classrooms look? What rules would we change?

Does our current educational system provide us the opportunity to think that way or are we only concerned with test scores and graduation rates?

We have an opportunity, right now. We have been presented with a once-in-a-century chance to shift the conversation in education.

Will we have the courage to make the shift?

I don’t know but I’m certainly going to try.

How about you?