A Thank You to Educators
Education is the movement from darkness to light. ~ Allan Bloom
So for all educators from teachers to techs, lab aides, counselors, administrators and everyone else who works to make education happen including every type of support staff, thank you!
While the end of the Spring 2020 semester was certainly a shock to the system, we were also half way through the semester. Effectively every college went into emergency mode and we did the best that we could, wrapped up and graduated students the best we could, and breathed a sigh of relief that Summer had arrived.
Of course last Summer was like no other. For most colleges, we spent the time developing policies, writing and in many cases creating contingency plans for online education. At my college, our Dean of Technology did a spectacular job of putting together online teacher training for our faculty. We conducted paid teacher training for almost all of our faculty who had not been previously trained. It was a massive effort taken on across not just our college but all three colleges in our district. I’m sure similar efforts occurred across California and across the nation.
Our board of trustees made the decision to primarily remain online for Fall, which meant online student support services had to be put into place for students. Some of our Career Technical Education and lab science courses remained in face to face mode, albeit at smaller class sizes due to social distancing regulations. This of course meant a whole new round of policy creation and implementation. We addressed access issues, class sizes, safety and sanitization protocols, ordered personal protective equipment. We held faculty and department meetings, pre-semester safety meetings. Given the changing infection rates we even had to bounce some classes off campus for a time and bring them back.
It was all very complicated, exhausting and maddening at times. What made it even harder was that we, who have dedicated our lives to serving and helping students, knew that we weren’t delivering the same level of service and education we normally deliver. We did our best. There is a sentence that I’ve come to really dislike during all of this, but which accurately reflects what’s been happening, “it’s not ideal.” And no, it hasn’t been ideal. Some students have fallen behind. Students with resources and technology issues have not only fallen behind, but some have left higher education all together. It’s all been quite heartbreaking.
But want I want to remind all of you tonight is simply this, focus on the positive work you did. Under the single hardest set of educational conditions that any of us have ever faced, will likely ever face, we did what we do, we educated students. It may have been fewer students than normal, it may have not been at the quality level we normally hold to, however we educated students. We graduated students and students will be transferring to four-year schools, going to graduate and professional schools and got good jobs. This has changed their lives and for many of our community college students this has changed the lives of their families for generations.
So thank you, hold your head high, you did great work this past semester. Your students are better off for the work you did. With vaccine approvals happening, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Normal will certainly take some time to get her, but it will eventually come. Enjoy your holidays, soon enough we’ll be back at again!