Transitions, Client work, and COVID-19
I found myself reflecting upon transitions today as I thought about this new venture (for me) into blogging. Transitions in my life have actually been the norm and not the aberration. It seems that even when things were stable in my life, whether it be personal or professional, something was always going on under what I call the ‘transition banner’. Once I made peace with that, the big transitions seemed a bit easier to chunk off and handle. Putting things into smaller pieces is something I’ve learned about myself along the way, and not without pain and suffering … but also much joy. So, for this first blog post I’m going to talk about where I am right now, today, on this 20th day of August in the year 2020.
In this moment we are currently in, COVID-19 has changed the way I look at day to day activities. My normal routines have been upended. Some days I have to actually look at my calendar to see what day it is. I have to make myself reach out more because I tend to be a bit of an introvert and am perfectly happy with my own company. That is not always healthy though. We all need people. We just need them in different doses.
I started thinking about this ‘Rona thing’ back in February sometime. One of my friends went in the hospital only to be on a ventilator for three weeks and, with heartbreak that seemed to overwhelm in the moment, I said goodbye to her on my cell phone via video. I began to wrap my head around the idea that this wasn’t a random senior citizens care facility in Seattle, or a cruise ship coming into the Oakland Bay. This hit home. Since that time just for me, there are now nine people I care about that are no longer with us that were in our lives in March of this year. It’s been a struggle getting to where I could wrap my brain around that fact that we were all going to be living with for quite a while. I also realized that I had hit a point in my life where if I got this, I would most likely become very ill. It was overwhelming. It was also something I could make routines around. That I could handle. I could make this small enough that it was something I could manage in my personal life.
The beginning of March is a busy time in my consulting world. I had professional development, leadership coaching, equity coaching, and school workshops scheduled in four districts with nine school staff. My calendar was one solid block and it was both daunting and invigorating to be honest. I usually head to Mexico in April so I was looking forward to that. I went to see client schools the first week of March. This particular district had five high schools that I was working with. I practiced good hygiene until my hands were raw, social distancing without really even thinking too much about it, but it still hadn’t quite hit me yet.
When my next client visit came mid-March, I chose to drive 8 hours in my car rather than fly. These were two small districts up near Sacramento where there had been a hot spot for the virus. It just seemed like the smart thing to do. I worked with two small districts for a couple of days, again being so over cautious about good self-care. On the way home from that visit (I remember because it was my birthday), we got the official news from our home office that we were being grounded from client visits until further notice. At some point in time that changed to the end of the calendar year.
Life changed on March 11, 2020.
As we ended the school year with clients, the magnitude of what we were looking at began to hit me. We tried to hold zoom gatherings, but my clients were not focused on anything other than how to finish out the school year and help their students. This was understandable and we took a step back to try and support them through the transition. Trying to deliver trainings that were designed for in-person interaction weren’t translating over zoom when having difficult conversations about race and equity. My brain went into overdrive. How were we going to close out this school year? What comes next? How can I support my clients when the plan had so drastically changed? What we didn’t know back in March was that we would still be doing this in August, and for the foreseeable future. We are now experiencing all kinds of school starts and stops with varying mechanisms for delivering instruction to students. Educators have spent the summer trying to wrap their heads and hearts around what comes next.
We have no idea how long this virus will be with us, or even what comes next for us in education. What I do know is that if anyone can handle this, it is educators. We are adept at handling transitions and really big challenges. We’ve got this.
So … this first blog? Transitions. We are here (wherever your “here” is) once again. I don’t have the answers. Heck, I barely have the questions. What I do know is that we are all in this together. We will find a way to create an equitable system that doesn’t just make the fractures in an already inadequate system worse. We can do this. We can do this together. I have so much faith in our ability to walk this path together.
Transitions, Client work, and COVID-19