Soon after this kindergarten photograph was taken my dad, mom, and two-year old sister pulled out of our Southern California driveway in a crew cab Chevy truck and a 30-foot trailer to begin a road trip of a lifetime. My dad, a community college professor and track and cross country coach, had taken a year long sabbatical to research national parks and the country’s best track and cross country programs. This research took our family on an adventure across the United States of America. For a five year old, this was an epic adventure. I remember crawling through the window of our Chevy cab into the carpeted camper shell of toys as we traveled down long, straight highways listening to Neil Diamond. Of course, this was back in the day where seatbelts weren’t required and playing in the camper shell was allowed! I have vivid memories of our learning adventures as we visited national parks, historical landmarks, and state capitals. I learned to love reading and how to count by playing cribbage with my dad. It was not your typical kindergarten year, but it was one full of rich and unforgettable learning experiences that will forever be etched in my mind.
My dad's detailed and carefully orchestrated road map brought us to many incredible places. However when I talk to my parents about this adventure, I realize the trip wasn’t without challenges. First of all, my mom was pregnant with my brother and had to return home early to deliver him. That is a challenge all on its own!! Inclement weather and roadblocks required them to choose alternate routes to stay safe and on course. In fact, we drove straight into the eye of a tornado and had to hide in a stranger’s cellar for safety! My mom laughed recalling a trailer cupboard that wasn’t shut properly, resulting in flour spilling throughout the kitchen and a time when she had to clang pan lids together to scare away a bear that was getting much too close to our campsite. As my parents share these experiences, I think about how different it looked from the eyes of a child. For me, these challenges were fun and part of the adventure because my parents were intentional about framing them that way. As exhausted as my mom must have felt at times experiencing pregnancy and caring for a five and two year old while on the road, she was always loving, kind, and full of joy. I have memories of our harrowing tornado encounter, but I don’t remember feeling scared. Instead I recall flashlights in the dark and making a new friend while playing with her spirograph on a patio once the storm had cleared. I don’t remember changing routes, I recall the excitement of arriving at a new destination. It truly was a road trip of a lifetime and I will forever have vivid and wonderful memories etched in my mind. How differently may I have remembered our trip if the challenges were framed in worry, fear, and uncertainty? What memories may I have missed out on if my parents decided to turn around and go home when they reached a detour or roadblock? I also find it fascinating that though my parents experienced a variety of challenges, they also said it was one of the best years of their life.
This summer has been far from typical as I have been collaborating with colleagues to chart a road map for a school year that will be unlike any other we’ve experienced in our lifetime. I'm in awe of the many educators that are spending countless and tireless hours planning for the unknown with kids as the focus. This is hard work and these are wild days! Education as we know it has been disrupted in a major way and it would be easier to list what hasn't changed than what has. However, as difficult and disruptive as our current reality is, I choose to view this surreal time as an opportunity to create transformative and unforgettable learning experiences for ALL learners. As much time and effort that has gone into creating a clear and intentionally designed road map; no doubt we will run into challenges that require us to choose alternate routes. We may hit roadblocks and circumstances that are out of our control that make us hunker down for safety for a bit. We don’t know what the future holds, but I do know this. The way we frame this school year is critical. We can paint this year with doom and gloom or as an epic adventure. Think about the kids that will be entering your virtual or brick and mortar classroom this fall. What experiences do you want to create for them? School will look different, that is a guarantee. Though, what an incredible opportunity to innovate and create unique, immersive, and empowering learning experiences for students! It is my mission to create a year that the students I serve will never forget. I want them to forever have memories etched in their mind of the 2020-21 school year being an epic road trip of a lifetime. In fact, I want those memories for all of us. How awesome would it be to look back and say, "2020-21 one of the best years of my life."
I highly recommend this 5 Word GPS activity by best selling author, Dave Burgess to help you set your GPS for the school year so you can stay on course and recalculate as needed to intentionally design incredible and unforgettable lessons that your students will remember forever!
8/16/2020 06:30:32 am
That was an awesome blog! Thank you! Your positive attitude and creativity is inspiring. This is how we need to look at this upcoming year!
8/16/2020 08:27:41 am
Wow, yes! I've been calling families checking on their choices for 20/21 (Corvallis Online or Hybrid) to be sure they knew what they were signing up for. One family stands out because Mom describes this year as exactly thet: Grand Adventure of a Lifetime. They are grabbing at the opportunities that our flexible online program offers, and running with them.
8/17/2020 12:25:07 pm
WOW! Tisha I loved the great familial story with both sides told! The personal pics are precious too! My dad is a huge Neil Diamond fan so I like that too! I love how you are taking a tough time and showing how to make the best of it despite challenges!
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Student Engagement & PD Specialist in Southern Oregon, Canva Learning Consultant, Canva Education Creator, and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.