A letter to teacher candidates: A reflection and thinking of you all!

A letter to teacher candidates: A reflection and thinking of you all!

My dear Students,

I hope my note finds you all well. So much has changed since our time together. It feels like the whole world has been turned sideways.

I am writing to you from my home where I imagine most of you all are too. I, like you, would rather be at school, with the students doing our thing. But social distancing will be very important to practice for the next month or so (it could take this long or longer depending on if people comply). Know that I am thinking of you all even though we are forced apart.

I don’t know if you all remember. I stressed that the capacity for reflection is the most important thing in becoming a teacher. I do not think I was as convincing I would have like to be. It is partly because this class comes at the end of the program when it should be the first one teachers take (in my opinion). But the other reason is this: we in education have been convinced (in our capitalist time) to view education as a commodity, as skills or tools, rather than a social good in of itself.

During this time, as much as health care, public health EDuCATION has been crucial to the care, health, and safety of the public, young people, and students. I am not writing lessons plans, or learning how to manage my kids’ behaviour right now. I am trying to educate myself to feel less afraid and lead in this time. I am reading, writing and passing on knowledge where and to whoever I can. I am compiling important texts and resources to support my kids and students to make good use of this time. I am trying to help with teachers’ efforts to teach online.

And most of all. And this is the point I want to really emphasize now. I am REFLECTING. On all of my experiences as an educator. I am digging through my thoughts and ideas on education, what it can do and be in extraordinary times like this from what I have learned in ordinary times. I am writing my reflections down and thinking about it. I am sharing these with you.

Reflection gets us through. Grabbing hold of our inner resources keeps us afloat. Giving what we have learned and know to each other supports those who need a language to speak their thoughts and feelings, who want a way forward to move.

Each of you is a teacher. You have completed your requirements to become one even if the block is interrupted. But without the block you are still all teachers. What makes you all teachers is your capacity to learn from experience, to reflect on it, to analyze it and to pass on your knowledge to others. Do not underestimate the power of your knowledge at this time. It is creativity, resourcefulness, resilience and, above all, service to others that will get us all through, together.

I am looking forward to being together at convocation. We will celebrate all you have accomplished. During this time if you can help out with your teachers virtually efforts please do. If you can support children and young people in your family and friend circle via zoom or email please do. Teachers do not need things to teach. They just need to act where and when they can. This is what I am trying to convey — you have everything you need inside you, learned over your life and in school/university, to make a difference.

Be well. You are our hope. We are counting on you to come out and reset and rebuild our world with young people.

But above all we need to individually and collectively take this time to reflect and reprioritize what is important to us in education and in the world: meaningful encounter, exercise, sustained inquiry, study, reading, writing, learning how to learn, serving each other, sharing resources, being together, and love, love, love. These olds things will keep our system going.

As I also stressed reflection takes time. And we all have time now.
Be well, most of all. Fill your days with music, art, social media, novels, love and creativity. I will see you all soon.

All my best
Professor Aparna

PS. I am on social media (Twitter @aparnatarc) if you need me or want to follow my efforts to keep teaching.