At this point you may be wondering what zombies have to do with the classroom…the closest you have been to a zombie is staying up too late grading and waking up too early to finish grading. The hit show to which I am referring in the title, The Walking Dead, begins with a man waking up in a hospital after being in a coma. “I woke up today… in the hospital, came home and that’s all I know,” says Rick Grimes as he describes the unusual circumstances in which he finds himself. Of course, the world he knew no longer exists and his life mission is now based on the primal instinct to simply stay alive. Whether he faces zombies, other hostile survivors, or fatigue, Rick is a leader and must lead at all times, regardless of his own shortcomings.
I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead…not because of the zombies or the violence, but because I can relate. In fact, I think most educators can relate to Rick and the world around him. The world in which I teach is not the same world it was when I started teaching. I sometimes feel as if I have awoken from a coma and am desperately trying to piece together what happened as the world has changed around me.
My teaching career began in 2001; two weeks into my first year of teaching the 9/11 attacks took place. I knew nothing would be the same. What I didn’t know was how different the world of education would become over 13 years. If we look back over the past few years a lot has changed:
- Security (online, airports, etc.)
- Apps, apps, and more apps
- Social Media
- Google…as a verb
- Reality TV
As far as I can tell, we have two choices to make as educators:
1. Refuse to change and complain how things are different.
2. Embrace change and see it as a way to learn from students.
Choice number one will get you nowhere…and you will turn into a zombie, numb to students and bitter about teaching. Choice number two will shape you into a better educator than you ever thought possible. As Rick puts it, “Set aside our differences and pull together, stop feeling sorry for ourselves and take control of our lives… our safety… our future. We’re not broken.”
You can be the change and you can empower change, but you can’t control the change. Enjoy the unique opportunities you have as an educator in these times. Celebrate those around you who have helped and who will help you move with change. Connect with other educators to reignite the passion for teaching in a world of change.
You may never face a zombie horde but never underestimate your courage to face adversity and change.