A Call to Re-Invest

January 19, 2021

By: Dr. Dolores Cormier-Zenon, NBCT

Throughout 2020, the world experienced much tribulation. Last January we opened the year hopeful but unaware of what enormous turmoil was yet to come. A pandemic rising to a magnitude, so clearly unfathomable, that we’d lose hundreds of thousands of lives. In addition, we quickly ascertained how aggressively the pandemic would change the trajectory of how we live, breathe, and educate our students today. As a result, COVID-19 has revealed much in the way of challenges and opportunities.

We have been forced to reimagine, re-engage, and reflect on what it means to teach effectively without compromising the impact to student learning.  We’re updating our perspective, factoring in new experiences to re-shape our thinking toward how we position ourselves to educate better. And, we have begun to discover empowerment, understanding, and embracing the value of transformation.

COVID-19 has brought to the forefront a condition of complacency, helping to awaken our hearts and minds. Teachers have considered new approaches to providing thoughtful assessments that inspire meaningful learning. Access to resources, a given in a hardcopy world, now requires thoughtful approaches more than ever before. Our leaders from business, academia, and government saw the need for more equitable opportunities to solve our challenges in health, finances, and education.

Navigating an altered way of living, countless educators worked collaboratively in search of creative and effective pedagogical strategies. It became increasingly necessary to generate quality teaching and meaningful learning within a virtual space – something we’ve done on a small scale but never on a massive nationwide scale with no time to test and learn. Students were now required to learn at the immediate onset of the pandemic’s surging numbers within an environment that limited interaction and engagement with teachers and peers. The change resulted in an unyielding trauma on students, families, and educators across the globe like nothing we have ever witnessed. This new at-home reality brought to the forefront increased social-emotional challenges; teachers saw themselves grappling to maintain student commitment to academic success, while also addressing important challenges related to mental health, access to technology, and other services typically provided in schools.

Together, we could intentionally join in building sustainable relationships to re-imagine education.

Today our call to reflect is more important than ever before. Our questioning should explore a renewed commitment to students. How are we thinking about assessment to best identify struggles in learning? How do we begin to re-envision the impact of teaching strategies implemented in the past to encourage true impact on the future of learning? How might educators seek and explore opportunities that best surpass the current “ceiling” of student learning? What should educators consider as they consider their role in seeking to impact education?

Together, we could intentionally join in building sustainable relationships to re-imagine education, innovate pedagogy to better meet student needs, and rethink our processes to best promote a new world view in education. Hopefully, we seek to evolve, no longer bearing a resemblance to past shortcomings but applying our learning to enhance scenarios that have yielded success. We can no longer remain stagnant and unaffected, hoping for different results.

It is necessary for educators to embrace this shift to innovate and allow themselves to become transformed for the better. Let us be brave enough to courageously challenge ourselves to renew our commitment to students in their learning, re-invest in teachers and their professional growth, be more proactive in the development of effective/reflective teachers, and finally, be willing to have an open mind to promote personalized learning, effectively asses, monitor, and adjust to impact change with opportunities for our children’s future.

Answers to our numerous questions may, unfortunately, remain ambiguous to us for now, however the opportunity to discover a new path is exciting. We have a unique opportunity to create a “Brave New World” for change that is inevitable. In the midst of an awakened consciousness, our choice to reflect, re-invest, and innovate will be impactful. The best is yet to come, let us embrace it.

Dr. Dolores Cormier-Zenon, NBCT

Dr. Dolores Cormier-Zenon is a National Board Certified Teacher with over 25 years in education. She is presently serving as President of ASCD (Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development), the co-founder/President of the PC2 Education Foundation, and founder/vice-chair of the National Board Network of Accomplished Minority Educators (NAME). Additionally, she serves as President of the Louisiana National Board Certified Teacher Network while supporting underprivileged students to achieve post-secondary academic success. Cormier-Zenon was recognized by the Louisiana Department of Education as a Distinguished Educator in 2004, significantly impacting change in challenging schools and districts to elevating their commitment to educators, families, and students' social-emotional and academic needs. Cormier-Zenon later earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2012 and continues to promote a focus on diverse topics that influence equity, advocacy and policy, teacher leadership, professional practice, family engagement, and high-quality instruction that impacts the whole child. In response to COVID, she founded the WISE OWL Scholar Academy to challenge and support students in a safe and healthy environment. Dr. Zenon espouses the belief that “Every child, every zip code, no matter their circumstance.”