By Guest Blogger Kelly Nichols, a local educator

To say the least 2020 has been strange. Headlines have amazed me. Uncertainty has engulfed me. As a long-time educator, I had to reframe everything I had ever done in the name of teaching in March. Yesterday, Governor Cooper announced that we are under “Plan B.” Another huge change for us all. With our world spinning and changing so very quickly, I did not want to overlook anything or anyone. The only thing I knew to do was look, listen, and learn.

I saw you, single mothers, who are sole providers for your family and so worried about how to continue this way. I noticed you, working parents, who need to go back to work but aren’t certain what to do with your children. Some of you aren’t even sure if you’ll even have a job to return to. I observed those of you so concerned about their children stuck at home because you want them to have all the experiences of their ages. I empathize with the fearful, who are so unsure of what could happen, they want to do all they can to protect theirs. I felt your pain, fellow educators, so incredibly torn by the job you graciously gave yourself to and the fear of the unknown. Social media has sadly become the place to express all this raw emotion. But I believe that what often comes out as daggers is genuine confusion and uncertainty manifest in harsh words. We are all hurting. This is hard.

Thankfully, the ultimate decision was not mine. We all have needs, we all have opinions and undoubtedly people are disappointed. The question now becomes, “Where do we go from here?” We do what is best for our children, all of them. While the answer is very simple, implementation is a little more difficult. No matter our level of disappointment, we must remain positive for the sake of our children. Our emotions, our actions, and our words affect children in more ways than we realize. Children take cues from trusted adults. What we feel impacts them. Honestly, giving adult fears to kids is not fair. Children have enough to worry about as they learn new concepts, figure out how to navigate social interactions, and have all the experiences they can. Our concerns, though valid, are not their responsibility.

Instead of disappointment and dread, wouldn’t it be remarkable if we could spin this in our own minds so our words are genuine? Instead of focusing on what we are missing, what if we looked upon this as an adventure? I remember the one and only camping trip we took as a family. Five of us in one tent. It didn’t just rain all weekend, it monsooned! But, what I recall was how fun it was playing in the rain, hiking, and trying to cook over the fire. It was such an entertaining, unique experience for me. Only as an adult did I realize how incredibly miserable my parents must have been. To their credit, I had no idea. We did not pack up and leave because things didn’t go as they planned. We stayed, we played, and I remember it as a great adventure. Is it possible to begin this year with a similar perspective? To be sure, this isn’t what we planned. But, I believe it could be a great adventure for our children if we set the stage for that to happen.

I learned early in my teaching years that if I was enthusiastic about something, my class was excited about the very same thing.

Some of us are rolling with the punches and may not have much to lose, some of us are scared to death for our health and finances, some of us have children with special needs, some of us don’t know how we will make all of this work. It’s scary and it’s uncertain. But what if, for our children’s sake, we put on a brave face for the next few months and show support and even a little excitement about our newest adventure?

“Circumstances do not make the man, they reveal him.”  ~ James Allen

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