I recently completed a class focused on online teaching—something I never dreamed I would do—and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I learned. Discussing this with a fellow teacher, I wondered how long this social distancing will last? We agreed we’re ready to do it until researchers find medications and vaccines that work, but how do we get the rest of society to be patient, reasonable and socially responsible enough to follow guidelines that we know actually work to control the pandemic? Education is the answer, and my online class pointed to a method for changing hearts and minds. That class gave me a new perspective and changed my mind. I realized I had made a decision about online teaching without knowing much about it. In short, I learned something.
After I finished my training, I started imagining a future hybrid world, where in-person and online teaching is the norm, and I also discovered that in many ways it can actually be an improvement. I began to entertain the possibility that going online for education and a number of other business and social functions makes sense from an environmental, social and pedagogical perspective. I have to admit that I, like many others, struggle with change. This is one of those forced changes that we’ll embrace, if we’re smart, rational and courageous.
I’ve spoken to a number of people recently about how they’re managing their work and social lives in this age of remote contact. Most I’ve talked to are coping pretty well, but that isn’t surprising, given the fact that most of my friends and contacts are connected in some way to education, where people may not be affluent, but they have steady work. Most educators want to make a difference in the world more than they want to make vast sums of money. Other groups—both those living in dire poverty and those with extreme wealth—may feel impatient to end social distancing and other restrictions. Those in poverty need to survive, and those seeking to benefit financially are eager to take advantage of this crisis to make more money.
Now is the time for us to find common ground and use scientific analysis and data to guide our decisions. We must be flexible enough to adjust our habits and learn new skills—from using Zoom, Facebook or other connecting technologies to exercising discipline, generosity and empathy in our interaction with others. We can all use lessons in online learning, adapting to change, and using technology to become lifelong teachers and learners as we discover how to cope with an uncertain future.
On November 3rd I hope you’ll join me in taking that first step on the path into the future by voting me into office as the next member of the Texas State Board of Education for District 5.