Educating Through the Storm

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October 20, 2020

This is the second in a series of guest blogs by the 2020-21 Michigan Regional Teachers of the Year. David Bunn is a high school teacher at Houghton Lake Junior/Senior High in the Houghton Lake Community School District.

Find a Happy Place

My name is David Bunn and I am a science and STEM teacher at Houghton Lake Junior/Senior High School. I am the 2020-21 Region 2 Teacher of the Year, representing teachers in schools in the northern lower peninsula. I am currently in my 20th year of teaching, and I have spent all but one year at Houghton Lake. Houghton Lake is a small, northern Michigan village nestled about halfway between Midland and Traverse City. It is here that my wife and three children call home. In these changing and stressful times, I often retreat to the natural beauty pictured above for solace and strength.

Get Up!

Did I mention changing and stressful times? By now we have all had the full “2020 experience,” and to many, it may feel like it will never end. While we may not know what is coming next, we have to remind ourselves that it will end. We will survive. It is what we do.

How do I know this? My confidence stems from the basic premise that myself and my fellow teachers are part of the most resilient group of professionals to ever walk the Earth. Did that sound a bit ostentatious? To those of us in the know, it should merely sound like a glaring oversimplification.

We have weathered many storms as educators, taken many punches, been knocked down – yet we always seem to get back up, come out stronger and unite in our resolve, with laser-like focus, to meet our goals. Yes, it is true that we may vent to our colleagues after a particularly tough day, raise an eyebrow at our administrators when presented with a new “initiative” and even shed a tear or two in private (or public) from time to time.

However, when it comes time to act, we act. IT IS WHAT WE DO.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
― Maya Angelou

Not I, We!

To many of us, teaching in 2020 may seem like a raging storm. We have been battered, we have been flooded, we have been shaken. Through all of this, we must focus.

While focus may be difficult to find while the storm rages, we have to remember that we are only as strong as our support systems. Teachers share much in common, and in many ways, are the only ones who can truly empathize with what we are experiencing this year.

This has never been more evident to me as it is now. I have grown much closer to my colleagues as we work through the many struggles of 2020 together. In addition, my cohort of regional teachers of the year (RTOYs) have been indispensable in providing insight and encouragement to help keep my chin up.

We all have these resources. It is simply a matter of looking for them and allowing yourself to be open. Don’t go at it alone. Seek out others, ask questions, be vulnerable. For it is in these times that we find solidarity and strength.

“Then the storm broke, and the dragons danced.”
― George R.R. Martin

Splendid Company

In the end, we are teachers. We do this for that spark, that smile and that moment of understanding that comes from the people to whom we have dedicated our lives, OUR STUDENTS!

It’s easy to get lost in the curriculum. It is understandable to be discouraged by apathy. It’s almost expected to feel overwhelmed as more and more is added to our plates.

However, the relationships that we are able to foster and the impact we have on our students needs to be our purpose. In fact, I would argue that these relationships may be the most important tool you have this school year.

Every teacher is aware that students need to know you care before they care what you know. Conversely, what many students may never know, is that we need these positive interactions just as much. Positive student interactions serve as OUR port in OUR storm.

So take a moment for yourself. Get up when this year knocks you down. Be a little vulnerable. Lean on your colleagues. But most of all of all, smile and remember why you teach. After all, where could we find more splendid company?

“They ask me why I teach, and I reply, where could I find more splendid company?”
― Glennice L. Harmon

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