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Center for Catholic Education at UD

Lessons of a Lalanne Teacher: What I have learned during the Pandemic

By Karin Forsthoefel, 2018 UD Graduate and Lalanne Teacher

Until this point in my life, I had not realized that I was kidding myself when I said my trust was in my God. I placed my trust entirely in the structure of society. The world as we know it. The way WE decided things would go, from the ticking of our clocks, to the names we’ve given God’s seasons. I worshipped man. But on March 16, I honestly could not see the future I’d always trusted in. On this day, I did not know what tomorrow would bring or what the next hour might bring. I did not know if I would have my summer break, whether now was my time to rest or to stress over making sure I meet IEP minutes in case we have to prove it later. I did not know if summer would even be called summer anymore. Why was it called that in the first place? My idea of summertime is when there is no school, but if we end up having school, is it summer? (Obviously I can answer some of these questions with pure reasoning, but maybe these innocent questions are an insight into the kinds of anxieties our students are having – young minds that are not capable of reasoning fully yet.)

To get to my point, it felt as though trusting in a routine or a structure was no longer an option. There may never be a “back to normal” again, especially as things are projected to last many months. Things are changing big. Permanently. This is a global catastrophe. Things don’t go back to normal after that. COVID-19 is a paradigm shift. Maybe not for my parents, entering into the retirement stage of their lives. But, for a young 20-something, who’s only ever known childhood a certain way, who barely lived through the paradigm shift that happened on September 11, who barely knew anything other than high-security checks and TSA, THIS is the first time my world would truly change. THIS is the first challenge to my security, the security I falsely placed in things of this world. I know that God alone is my fortress, my sword and my shield. God is in control. I can’t tell you how many times I expressed to my mother, “Mom, I didn’t know that things could just…stop.” Can things just stop? How do they start again?

When our sense of time falls apart, we are forced to realize our lives CAN go on without the commodities and normalcies that we have become accustomed to. We start to understand more fully, that God lives outside of these man-made traps. God lives in the moments, amplifying the small and minimizing the big. God can make one millisecond matter more to the world than ten mundane years of busy streets. God can do what we deem impossible, and can accomplish what we could never imagine. I don’t know when or if we will ever be able to pinpoint what exactly God is doing here, amidst and through this crisis, but He is doing something, and lots of “little” things, that may take many, many years to sum up into a world-changing phenomenon. But, we can trust His timing and His goodness. Because we can already see the fruits of this time, spending quality time with one another, being re-taught valuable lessons in our society, and much more. If we can see even this little bit, then we can know that God is up to something much bigger. We can imagine that if we were to zoom out far enough, all these small blessings would add up to something big. And we can pray that someday, decades from now, centuries from now, this global paradigm shift will go down in history as the year the Lord swooped in.

Living in community with six other Lalanne teachers during this pandemic has been a blessing in disguise! At first, it started to feel like a competition with everyone having different expectations from their principals about what to do. I was starting to get jealous that some of my community members had more structured guidance than I did. Temptations to feel unworthy, incompetent, or lazy crept into my mind. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, and was grasping onto feelings of motivation and inspiration whenever I could find them, rewarding myself for my creativity when I could muster up courage to use it. This only happened a few days out of the mix, so I still found myself feeling it wasn’t enough. But by week three, I started to realize we were in this for the long haul. My roommates and I started to turn to one another to share ideas, to share professional development opportunities that our different principals were sending us. I gained a lot from this sharing. It was encouraging and fun! That’s when I realized—living with teachers is an IMMENSE blessing, especially during this time. Whenever Governor DeWine, President Trump, or anyone on TV would do a shout-out to educators, thanking us for our work, we would look at each other and smile and share in that moment of recognition. I find myself imagining what this would have been like last year, when I lived by myself. Who would I have shared those moments with? It wouldn’t have been the same. My heart has grown ten times for my profession because I am able to share it with my community, the friends I have come to love dearly. Although the year has brought its challenges, it’s amazing how God can teach us how to appreciate our situation, even when we are given every reason to spite it. 

Edited by Barb Miller


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