The summer of 2020 has been extremely tough for most of my educator friends between COVID and not knowing how this school year would start. Maybe you’ve spent days worrying about the start of the school year, planning for a hybrid opening, and then had to completely readjust to a 100% remote learning plan.
This all reminds me of my experience this summer with my new bike.
July rolled around, and I felt restless. I was keeping up with Zoom workouts and wanted to integrate running or walking to get some cardio in. Many of my friends were talking about getting bicycles — it sounded like a wonderful idea. I could just picture it, riding on the bike path down by the beach, the wind blowing in my hair, and Sophie riding in a basket behind me.
It was time for me to bite the bullet and find a bike. This proved to be WAY harder than I expected because I wasn’t the only one with this great idea — most cycling stores have limited stock these days.
I reached out to a friend to help me figure out which kind of bike I should get (I should also tell you I haven’t ridden a bike since I was a kid). He suggested a hybrid bike. I got lucky, and the bike shop in West Hollywood had two coming in. Awesome! I was going to get my bike!
I tracked the bike down by calling the shop every day until it arrived. As soon as it came in, I was there before the store opened.
The bike looked cool with pink and purple details, and they assured me Sophie could ride in the basket behind the seat. I was psyched.
Fast forward to the first weekend with my bike.
I loaded my bike into my trunk and drove down to Santa Monica to ride with the wind in my hair. I had ridden this path before, but it was Saturday, so surprise, surprise, it was busier than I’d ever seen. This created new obstacles for me. Not only were there lots of other riders to navigate, but there were also:
- People crossing back and forth to the beach
- Scooter riders
I had never met this many obstacles — it made me think of you.
The obstacles you’re about to experience are somewhat new.
We’re moving into unchartered territory this school year. We never imagined we’d have to teach our class through a tiny camera on a computer screen.
We have a whole new set of obstacles:
- Kids struggling with technology — maybe they don’t have a computer or tablet or need help using it
- Kids with unreliable Wi-Fi
- Kids with working parents who aren’t home to help them get on Zoom calls
- Kids without the books and materials they need
- More communication with parents — keeping them in the loop, answering more questions, and addressing their concerns
- Building community with our kids through a computer screen
- And many more!
Back to that busy bike path.
I was determined (and I know you are too). I got on that bike path anyway and steered around the obstacles. I tried to speed up and go around slow-moving traffic and use my bell to let people know when I was passing.
As a kid, bikes didn’t have gears, so this whole gear thing was totally new to me. I had to practice shifting gears over and over just as you’ll do this new year.
You’ve already shifted gears by thinking you were going into a hybrid school year to now starting entirely online.
Maybe you don’t realize it yet, but you’re building your resiliency.
As I continued on my biking adventure, I came to a narrow section where a gentleman was walking right in the middle of the path. I wasn’t riding that fast, but there was traffic on both sides.
I rang that bell, trying to tell him to move, but he wasn’t moving. I crashed into him. Thankfully it wasn’t very hard, and we both got up totally okay. It was more embarrassing than anything else. It made me thankful my little Sophie wasn’t on the back of the bike and that I was smart enough to give myself time to practice first.
The next day, I made plans with my friend, Rob, to ride in my neighborhood. West Hollywood is more like a city so this was new terrain I’d be embarking on and would have different challenges. I told my friend I’d fallen off the day before, so he was gentle with me and told me he’d lead and ride slowly.
He kept turning back to make sure I was okay. The day turned out great. We rode to Larchmont, stopped to enjoy lunch, and rode back. On our way back, I told him to meet me outside so I could bring Sophie down to say hello. With just half a block to go, I planned to lock up my bike in storage below my apartment building.
I was riding confidently now. I saw the entrance open and decided to drive up the ramp as it would be faster. The ramp was wet, the bike skidded, and the next thing I knew, I toppled over and landed on the same side as the day before.
A thoughtful man came over and extended his hand to help. I was very grateful for his kindness, even though I was a bit freaked out that he was touching me. My knee was now bruised, and my palms were scratched.
Mostly my ego was crushed.
How could I — a grown woman who rode a bike as a kid, fall not just once, but twice in 2 days?
We need buddies now more than ever.
This is an excellent time for you to get a supportive buddy to talk to and support you while teaching in this new terrain.
You’ll be navigating new terrain this fall. You’ll need to shift gears and dodge different obstacles — and I know you can do it. You’ll get back up, again and again. And each time you do, you’ll be better and stronger.
Teaching is like that. If we can have enough humility to recognize that we’ll always be messing up, then we can improve.
I believe in you. I know this isn’t easy, but you can do it. And Literacy Partners will be here along the way to help you.
If you enjoyed reading this article, check these one’s out too: