Everything is not canceled.

I think I speak for many when I share that I have experienced innumerable emotions, moods, and feelings during this pandemic. This morning, I woke up in what I’ll call my 34th stage of response to the COVID-19 situation:

Today I feel energized by hopeful possibility.

Don’t get me wrong. I have shed many, many tears over the tragedies and atrocities people have faced. I have screamed many, many times over the countless cancellations, postponements, and missed experiences.

There are times that I have felt like life, as we know it, has been canceled.

To some degree that’s true, but I have to admit that I’ve entered a new stage of appreciation and admiration for the ways that humans and systems have begun to create new possibilities.

Many students around the globe are meant to be experiencing graduations right now. We’ve always pictured those as being a very uniform tradition. Family and friends filling rows and rows of chairs. Caps and gowns pressed together in hugs. Students and faculty exchanging high fives and jubilant handshakes at the on-stage diploma exchange.

THAT isn’t happening. But we are witnessing some very creative new possibilities.

I’ve heard of graduates riding a ski lift to be recognized. Graduates fêted at a drive-in from individual cars. Car parades. And ceremonies spread out across wide open parking lots.

We’re witnessing an unparalled flourish of innovation and creativity. That’s happening right now in our communities and in our schools, and it’s worth celebrating. We’re making room for new possibilities.

Camping at Vermont State Parks has been restricted until June 26, but now there’s time to camp in your backyard, like I did with my children the other night. On a school night!

For years, backyard chickens seemed like a bad idea, despite my yearning for the fluffy birds. My family now has embraced the possibility. We have more time at home. We have more energy and presence for care.

I hope that you, too, find a way to embrace the possibilities that emerge from the obstacles we face during this time.

Emily Hoyler wrote about re-imagining project-based learning at home with her children. And she gives us inspiration for immersing learners in PBL at home.

My clever colleagues Scott and Susan discovered the potential of the Marco Polo app for creating connection. As we’re craving human connection, they show us how to use tech tools to interact with our learners and one another.

In the recent #vted Reads podcast, Jeanie talks with Mike McRaith about the possibilities of a new culture. In Turn This World Inside Out, Jeanie and Mike discuss the book’s timely concepts of transitioning to a culture of interconnectedness.


And Katy Farber put out a hopeful article in edutopia, on Lessons Learned During the Pandemic. She highlights the opportunities that have been presented and educators and schools.

While not all of you reading this are in my same 34th stage of pandemic response (hold tight: stage 35 is coming), I urge you to notice the creativity and innovation around you, because it’s inspiring.

Everything is not canceled.

We just have to reimagine, and find new possibilities.


Rachel Mark

Rachel Mark joins the Tarrant Institute as a Professional Development Coordinator in the southern part of Vermont. Prior to working with TIIE, Rachel was a middle school literacy and social studies teacher at Tarrant partner school Manchester Elementary-Middle. As a teacher, Rachel loved exploring new content and new methods with inquisitive young adolescents. She thinks middle schools are the most dynamic learning centers in the state. Rachel is passionate about supporting teachers and helping them overcome obstacles; it’s her mission to break down the barriers that teachers face in implementing change. She is interested in student reflection and portfolio based assessment, inquiry and project-based learning When she's not reading, researching and supporting teachers, Rachel loves to play. She balances her life shuttling three busy kids around by getting sweaty and zen - yoga, exercise, and being outdoors are how she recharges her metaphorical batteries.

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