Last month I was hunkered down with my family as we waited for the arrival of Hurricane Ida. The saying “hunkered down” might be new to you, but it’s something southerners often say during the active hurricane season.
We moved plants and lawn chairs from our yards out of fear the heavy winds will blow them away. And since we were directly in Ida’s path, my family and I nailed boards over our windows to protect the glass from flying debris. Once the refrigerator was stocked, generator gassed and flashlight batteries double-checked, we cooked our last meal and anticipated a loss of power. Then we sat and waited.
It was a weird feeling filled with mixed emotions because there was nothing we could do to control the situation. However, in an odd way, it was a treasured time because life slowed down and our family was brought together.
Educators also hunker down at the start of each school year. The time and energy teachers put into their classrooms before school even starts is amazing. We prepare for the year by decorating bulletin boards and organizing classrooms. We spend our summers learning new tools to improve our teaching strategies. And before school even starts, we plan lessons so we can provide students with the best possible learning opportunities.
No matter what age we’re teaching, all educators share a common goal – reaching every child and making a difference in their lives. We work hard in anticipation of the big day when our students arrive. And the night before the first day of school, we get the jitters. So we hunker down and watch time tick by on the clock as we anticipate greeting new faces.
Some describe the sound a hurricane produces as one you’ll never forget, especially whenthe eye of the storm nears. The rain is wicked and the wind finds a way to sneak into every crevice of the house.
I have the gift of selective listening, which some may describe as convenient hearing. During Ida, I was able to drown out the weather and the endless news reporting. Instead, I heard the laughter as we played a board game as a family. Then I heard the chatter as my husband taught my daughter a family recipe and shared old stories. It was a sweet memory I’ll always remember, and it took place at a time that could be so stressful.
When the storm passed and cell service was back up, I treasured the dings from my phone as family and friends checked in with each other. The entire experience of a hurricane is a reality check because it reminds you that people, not things, are what’s important.
Like a hurricane, educators are surrounded by many sounds throughout the school year. We have the ability to be selective about the sounds we hear. Will it be the ones that are most powerful or the ones that howl like the wind? Or will it be the voices that may go unnoticed or the ones we take for granted?
One thing’s for sure: While it’s so easy to be pulled down by the negativity of others, positivity should be at the center of our selective listening. I challenge you to block out the sounds that make you anxious or cause worry. Words are powerful, and the positive ones help us find the good in situations. Remember that the work teachers do is life-changing, and the children are what matter most.
It’s interesting how a hurricane and education have so many things in common. I was thankful when Ida left and we could focus on getting our children back to school. It reminded me that although things will be stormy and there will be hiccups that require rebuilding, we always have each other.
It’s important that we rely on each other and learn and grow together because we’re always better when we’re united — especially when we’re hunkered down!
Nikole Blanchard is an innovation and technology director in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, treasurer of the ISTE Board of Directors, founder of a technology network in Baton Rouge, and a board member for Baton Rouge's Edcamp and Louisiana IT Symposium. She’s also a National Board Certified Teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator, Google Innovator, Apple Teacher, Swift Playground Teacher, Google Certified Trainer, PBS Learning Media Innovator and Microsoft Innovative Educator.