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The COVID One-Year Mark: Let’s not go back

 

We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.

— Sonya Renee Taylor

On March 5 of last year, Sound Discipline’s leadership team met to make a COVID contingency plan. A 2-week school closure had just been announced. We drew all over a whiteboard, planning for three scenarios; 1) Schools staying open, potentially risking the safety of our staff doing in-person programming; 2) Schools closing, teachers still working; and 3) Schools closing entirely. Then there was the question of how long it would last. Would schools open back up after two weeks (the initial closure timeline)? Two months? Would schools shut down for the remainder of the school year? (That’ll never happen!)

 

We had no idea what was coming.

 

When schools closed for the rest of the year, after the initial celebration, kids figured out it wasn’t so great after all, not getting to see their friends or teachers, play sports, or participate in any gatherings. Educators and administrators worked around the clock to hash out what school would look like. Families scrambled to be their children’s teacher while also keeping food on the table and a roof overhead, all while navigating the dangers and confusion of the pandemic. 

 

Together, we watched the infection and death rates shoot up. We woke up every morning to videos of police violence and murder. We watched the devastation of the worst hurricane season and the worst wildfires on record. In January, extremist hate groups took over the capitol and hijacked the nation.

 

Good things happened too. Wild animals came out of hiding. Lions relaxed on highways. Pods of whales gathered and surfaced in the ocean. Dolphins played. Birds took over the skies. In that initial hush, for the first time in history, the entire human community paused. 

 

We got to experience that what happens in Italy, China, or Los Angeles matters urgently to my neighbors and me. In ways we could never have imagined — we came together. We got to see that what we do on a small scale — like washing our hands — could mean everything. 

 

We’re different now. Now we know what profound and prolonged isolation is like, and “connection” has taken on a whole new meaning. It turns out we really do, in fact, need each other — in all of our very specific diversities. 

 

Sound Discipline’s work begins there — with connection. Brain science proves it, but knowing it in our bones is transformative. When educators root learning in connection and belonging, kids show up as their authentic, resourceful selves. As we return to in-person learning, as we map out all of the contingencies, work diligently on safety protocols, and navigate all of the details, let’s put connection and belonging at the center. Small steps. As we go forward, let’s not go back. 

 


Sound Discipline is working for a world where children know they belong and can learn and thrive.

We partner with educators, organizations, and families to transform schools into equitable learning communities.

We bring together science-based, trauma-informed, restorative, and Positive Discipline practices to facilitate change in the ways adults see and respond to students.

Courageous Educators:
We facilitate school leaders and educators to build classroom communities and model an inclusive culture school-wide that promotes student agency and well-being.

Equitable School Systems:
We coach administrators and educators to use data to identify and implement solutions that address damaging systemic patterns of inequity that target Black and brown students.

Connected Families:
We train and coach families and caregivers in a child’s life to apply solution-oriented practices that instill critical social emotional life skills.