• Head of School
  • Lincoln Love
Onward Together: New Experiences, Familiar Feelings

As our first week of distance learning comes to a close, I am proud of our entire Lincoln community—faculty, staff, students, and parents—for adapting to the start of school in an entirely new way. We are on our way to building the foundations of a fantastic year together. 

We have spent a lot of time talking about how the back to school experience in 2020–21 is different from any other year. That is true in so many ways, but I want to take a minute to write about ways in which it has felt very familiar. As sad as teachers and students are to see the summer come to a close, each September we are excited to reconnect with colleagues and classmates, to get back into the routines of school, and to once again engage in the learning process. I’ve been feeling all of this in the last few weeks, especially because we have not been in person at school for many months. 

Along with the excitement of getting back into the classroom and back on campus, for teachers, the last weeks of summer often bring a slew of traditional back-to-school anxiety dreams. This year was no different. These dreams typically involve not being fully prepared for the first day of class, which can take the form of not having finished the summer reading, or finding out you have been assigned to teach Physics instead of History, or (to use a recent example) forgetting notes that are needed for an important speech. They are just close enough to reality to make us wake up questioning if they’ve really happened. 

Over the years I have thought a lot about why these dreams are such standard back to school fare, even for our most veteran teachers. They have done this before, after all!  In recent years, I have followed the writing and work of sociologist Brene Brown, and her scholarship on vulnerability has given me some insight I want to share with you all. According to Brown, vulnerability is “the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure… it’s having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome.” When we teach, lead, and learn, we make ourselves vulnerable every day. We can prepare our lessons, meetings, and homework perfectly, but things can take an unexpected turn when a student asks a question we haven’t anticipated, or we are posed with a problem we do not immediately know how to solve. These are the moments that make school so exciting and interesting, but they also mean that each day brings an element of uncertainty.  

So why do we do it? Because, I believe that in opening ourselves to the vulnerability that is inherent in the teaching and learning process, we are opening ourselves to creativity, to joy, and to love. In Brown’s words, “Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experience.” When we make ourselves vulnerable, we are being courageous, brave, and developing #bold minds. 

We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to learn, to grow, and to experience joy with your children. This started in distance learning this week, and we look forward to it continuing during our phased reopening of in-person next week. Here’s to a terrific 2020–21 school year!