By Megan Harrison
Sometimes, the best plan is to throw your plan out the window. Before the pandemic, I always had a plan. As a matter of fact, you could not find me without my brightly colored agenda. In high school, I scheduled the hours that I would block off for homework. In college, I prearranged everything from what courses I would take to what companies would hand me an offer letter once I grabbed my diploma.
But life had other plans. I gave birth to three precious children, which caused me to put my career plans on hold. That was okay, though, because I could just erase the career goal and push it a little farther back on my agenda. As my children grew older, I was able to have the career that I had planned for so long ago. I had a stint as a communications coordinator and then somehow found my way to education.
My first year of teaching was a piece of cake because I had great mentors who walked with me every step of the way. As I headed into my second year of teaching, I was excited. I would not only be teaching English, but also yearbook and newspaper classes. I felt as if I had made it. I was finally using my communication arts degree. I had the entire year’s worth of lessons written, and I planned to print every single worksheet that I would ever need well before the students walked through the doors. I should have known that plans did not like me the way that I liked them.
I was halfway through the school year when COVID-19 hit the U.S. All of a sudden, students were sent home and I was teaching from my coffee table. I had to throw my carefully executed lessons into the trash can and create something for my students that could be completed through a computer screen. Along with millions of other educators, I spent hours researching new ways to teach our students. I didn’t just want to babysit these classes; I wanted the kids to receive the same education that they would have gotten had we still been in the classroom. I had to change my plans if I was going to give the students everything that they deserved. I developed new skills as I learned how to effectively video chat, create editable worksheets, and assess student learning through new programs and technology. Some members of the PRP client family make the tools that helped me and others navigate a tough time in education and write a new story of what learning could look like.
Even though things eventually went back to “normal” in my school district, I still used the technology and products that I had discovered during the distance learning. My school actually encouraged us to continue using the products that students had become accustomed to during the time of asynchronous learning. Many teachers whom I talk with have found that students are retaining more from the new technology that they have been introduced to. A recent article from EdTech Update gave five practices from remote learning that are here to stay, so it is safe to say that the pandemic has changed the way education happens. Not every child responds well to taking notes from a slideshow, so educators have to find new ways to give instruction. That’s where PRP helps. As education continues to shift toward new methods and ways to engage students, PRP gives educational companies the support to bring these products to the people who are searching for something different.
My time in education taught me that children don’t always have their own plan. Most are dealing with whatever life throws at them, and man, did this pandemic throw some stuff at these kids. Not only are students trying to tackle this new world, but parents are, too. As I live with my three young ones, I applaud parents who are raising both young and school-aged children right now. If I can help make the educational experience easier for them and their children, then I want to. We didn’t ask for this pandemic, and we sure didn’t pencil it into our weekly planner. But that’s okay, because humans are resilient, and we can adapt to whatever may come our way. That only happens, though, if we’re willing to rewrite the story of our lives; and change our plans if they’re no longer benefiting us.
I left the classroom when I moved back to my home state, and I have found a way to give back to the educational world that I was once part of. I want to help educators as they throw out their meticulous plans and look for better methods of teaching in this new educational culture. In my role as PR coordinator with PRP, I hope to use my communication background and pedagogical insight to help our clients give students, teachers, and administrators the tools that they need to thrive in today’s educational environment. I believe that my knowledge will help propel this new generation to be bolder, brighter, and more brilliant than the generations before.
It may have taken me some time, but I have realized that a great plan is one that allows for revision, rewrites, and maybe even the occasional tossing into the garbage. You never know what will happen in life, but the one thing that you can control is how you handle things. You see, when it all boils down, we need to be adaptable. Being adaptable is what blessed me with this career at PR with Panache!. That is also why PRP is here. Our clients create ever-changing opportunities for children to grow academically, and PRP exists to help propel those opportunities. I am excited to be making a difference at PRP, and I am thrilled for the surprises that the future holds here.