Josie McClain

Paloma Elementary
Gila Bend, AZ
Josie McClain, Second-Grade Teacher


Flexibility and adaptability are two main characteristics of teaching. However, I have always ranked quite low in these areas. When pursuing a career in education, I knew that teachers needed to be able to think on their feet. But that is very different than “building the plane as we fly it,” as people are saying about 2020. Speaking with other educators, I know I am not alone. The field of education as we know it has been turned upside down and adaptation is now a survival mechanism. But so is resilience, and every teacher I know is taking the time to evaluate what is most important.

Yes, teachers are adapting by modifying their lessons, spacing desks six feet apart, simultaneously teaching in-person and online, sanitizing EVERYTHING, working through technical difficulties, and finding ways to keep students engaged while wearing masks. Oof, try saying that five times fast! But what I’ve noticed and experienced is that teachers are making mental health and relationships a top priority.

More than ever before, we are checking in on each other and our students. Like many other schools, we began our year strictly online. We made sure to find the positives of being in video meetings with our students. Many of us took the time to create Bitmoji classrooms, read aloud recordings, videos about ourselves, and get-to-know-you games. Even if we didn’t go the extra mile, it was just amazing to see students again! Our students felt comfortable and excited to be back in school, no matter the capacity – which also shows how resilient our students are. It is also important to focus on things that are familiar in addition to things that are unknown this year. Our students need consistency, but so do we. Following a basic, yet incredibly structured routine has really helped students (both in-person and online) find their flow.

Can we also take a minute to celebrate our administrators? Our schools would not be functioning without them. While the classroom looks and feels very different this year, so does the entire field of education and the decisions being made on a day-to-day basis. The attitudes and environments we provide our students all stem from our administrators, and we would not be successful without their guidance and support.

Despite many unknown factors we are facing this year, educators nationwide are rising to the challenges, because that’s just what we do. And I guess this year has shown me – along with many others – how flexible and adaptable we really are.

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