At CMA we embrace artists as models of creativity. Artists embrace the ambiguity that is a given in life, they ask “what if?” and “how can this be different and better?” They experiment and persist through vulnerability to courageously bring new ideas into the world. This describes teachers, as well. Amazing artists and amazing teachers stimulate our curiosity and connect us to something bigger than ourselves. They help us see things we’ve never seen and help us wonder our way into the future.
Across our communities, teachers continue to foster creativity while learning new ways of being – and educating – in these strange times. As ever, teachers set an inspiring example of how to turn a challenge into an opportunity. In these past weeks, we have seen incredible innovation, courage, and imagination. We’ve seen teacher-led drives to provide their kids with supplies and meals, safely-distanced parades through students’ neighborhoods, grassroots resource-sharing for online instruction, social media exchanges about how to support the social-emotional needs of children and families, and critical reflection on what matters most in education. We are seeing creativity – critical imagination applied to building new worlds. Teachers are modeling and cultivating creativity even as many of them grapple with technological challenges, the logistical and psychological strain of caregiving in a crisis, and the heartbreak (yes, I’ve heard just this word from numerous teachers) of not knowing when they will see their students next.
As many parents are discovering as they navigate crisis schooling at home, learning is not “content delivery.” Learning is an ecosystem that requires intentional nurturing. This week, and every week, let’s remember that teacher appreciation is about gratitude for so much more than the noble decision to enter the field. It’s about respect for an incredibly challenging profession that demands empathy and alchemy, expertise and humility, courageous curiosity, remarkable patience, and so much more. Teachers, thank you. There are many, many hugs and high fives waiting for you on the other side of this.
– Jen Lehe is CMA’s Manager of Strategic Partnerships, overseeing programs for learners throughout their lives. Jen directed the IMLS-funded Making Creativity Visible initiative and launched the Leaders in Creativity fellowship to build teachers’ capacity to advocate beyond their classrooms. Jen holds an Masters in Arts in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BFA in Photography from NYU. When she’s not at CMA, she’s gardening with her pit bull, Chompsky.