Education Technology

A Back to School Like No Other: A Lesson in Resilience

Posted 08/25/2020 by Peter Balyta (@pbalyta)

This is a back to school like no other; it is taking shape in living rooms, bedrooms and classrooms, and our already overworked and underappreciated teachers are being asked to do more than ever before. Whether finding ways to develop relationships with students they have never met, coming up with plans to socially distance already cramped classrooms, or risking their own health and safety to educate our children, the demands being placed on our teachers this back to school are daunting. But while it can feel overwhelming, remember that we’re all in this together — parents, teachers and administrators united by a common goal of taking care of, and educating, our children.

The reality is: This generation of students has already learned a lot. Maybe it wasn’t everything that was in the curriculum but certainly lessons that matter in life. So, as you head into the new school year, with countless variables out of your control, I recommend focusing on the things you can control, like having a flexible mindset, growing and leveraging your network, and investing in yourself in order to provide students with the best education possible.

Student learning in online classroom
Nearly 75% of teachers we surveyed expect to offer some mix or remote and in–person instruction this school year whereas only 2% expect to deliver instruction entirely in-person.

Be Flexible
Teachers are being asked to go boldly where no one has gone before; flexibility will be critical to navigating a complex and unpredictable school year. Think of yourself as the captain of a ship with very precious cargo. Start the year by figuring out where you are, where you are headed and how you plan to get there. Remember, this year’s voyage will require a lot of course corrections and adjustments along the way. Celebrate meeting key milestones, incorporate lessons learned and, most importantly, be willing to turn the wheel as you steer your way toward a successful school year.

Connect with Colleagues
Social distancing can create feelings of loneliness and isolation, but there’s a large and friendly community of educators looking to make connections and be a part of something bigger. Try following a few math and science education experts on social media, such as Esther Brunat on Instagram or Craig Beals on Twitter, as well as #T3Learns for instructional ideas and inspiration from some of our Teachers Teaching with Technology (T³™) instructors. And don’t underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned phone call, an email, or a walk down the hall. Your colleagues, whether at your school or on the other side of the world, can be invaluable sources of support.

Keep it Positive
Teaching is tough and made even tougher by the uncertainty of this school year, so try not to get caught up in the negativity. Show yourself, as well as others, compassion, and make a conscious effort to surround yourself with people who lift you up, not bring you down. Whether you’re teaching from home while juggling parental responsibilities or returning to new challenges in the classroom, realize that you may need an extra break or two in the day to manage the additional stress.

Let’s face it, what is being asked of educators in this time of uncertainty and heightened anxiety is nothing short of heroic. If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, I hope it’s that the teaching profession, which has often been minimized and overlooked despite its critical role in shaping young minds, deserves our eternal respect, admiration and value.

Invest in Yourself
In a survey we sent out to educators over the summer, nearly 75% of respondents said they will be providing some mix of in-person and remote instruction. But, most teachers haven’t been formally trained to teach in a blended- or virtual-learning environment. As you know, there are many differences between online and face-to-face instruction, only magnified by COVID-19, and professional learning will be crucial to ensuring students continue to achieve in math and science.

Remote Learning Resources
To help, we’ve developed a number of new resources to support both teachers and students with remote learning. I encourage you to visit to explore new, interactive video lessons for students, and get access to TI technology and software, live and on-demand webinars, as well as other professional learning opportunities designed to meet the needs of teachers and students in these uncertain times.

While it may seem like everything around us is in a constant state of change, what hasn’t changed is our commitment to ensuring that students continue to achieve in math, science and STEM. But we can’t do it without you. Despite the many risks and challenges you face, you continue to “show up,” providing comfort and consistency amid chaos. For that, we are forever grateful. As a parent, and former educator, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the gift of learning you are sharing with our children.

About the author: Peter Balyta, Ph.D., leads academic engagement for Texas Instruments and is the president of TI Education Technology. He is a former teacher and lifelong educator and serves on a variety of boards that support his desire to engage students in STEM subjects, including the board of directors of Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas. Follow him on Twitter @pbalyta.