By CC Chung
“Can you hear me? How about now? OK, good… No, no, not that button. Click that one… Yes, yes, that one!”
Teachers, in the past three months, we have seen it all. We’ve created more digital slideshows than we ever thought possible. We’ve been kicked out of our own virtual class meetings. We have seen every pet, held up close to the screen with a, “Ms. Chung, do you see him? Do you see my cat?”
We have also worried deeply about equity and access, building authentic relationships with our students, and learning to apply new technology while also remaining true to solid pedagogy. We have felt, immediately, the challenge of this new world of teaching and learning.
In October of last year, I remember standing in front of many of you at the 2020 Hawai‘i State Teacher of the Year ceremony. During my acceptance speech, I felt nervous, looking out into the audience. But then felt a surge of confidence as I spoke this truth: Teachers are creative and intelligent. We are a special force.
It is still so true and yet, today, in October of 2020, we educators may not be feeling so creative; we may be counting more moments of failure than moments of success. When failure hits us, it can hit us hard, especially when things that “normally work,” suddenly don’t.
In the past three months, I have failed… a lot. I have had to pause and remind myself: No, we teachers are creative. We are intelligent. We are resilient. And often it is from failure that we grow. A critical piece to growing from failure is knowing you have others who support you and can collaborate with you. We must stop doing things in isolation. We need to keep sharing ideas and challenges with each other. Keep up the conversations, keep cheering each other on. Let’s model for students what it looks like to find joy and challenge in life’s work.
I’m proud to have served as your 2020 Hawai‘i State Teacher of the Year and I am so proud of all of us in education. I am excited for our finalists and our 2021 Hawai‘i State Teacher of the Year.
This work is not easy, but I have confidence. I know we will work to bring light and love to each student in every school across the state. Let’s continue to lift up this beautiful profession we are in. Let’s lift up ourselves, our students, our community. Let’s grow stronger, together.
Cecilia “CC” Chung, an educator at Honouliuli Middle School, was named the 2020 Hawai‘i State Teacher of the Year in October 2019. She loves working with students and teachers and has led professional development sessions and loves to participate in professional learning communities. A former Hawai‘i State Teacher Fellow and current board member of the Hawai‘i Society for Technology in Education, CC also finds passion in supporting educators and technology integration. She is an avid tweeter, a foodie, and loves a good conversation. Find her on Twitter at @mschung808!