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Home » What We Learn When School Can’t Stop: Nora Flanagan (Transcript)

What We Learn When School Can’t Stop: Nora Flanagan (Transcript)

Full text of educator Nora Flanagan’s talk: “What We Learn When School Can’t Stop” at TEDxWrigleyville conference. In this talk, she shares ideas and solutions to bridge the gaps between teachers, parents, schools and communities.


Nora Flanagan – Educator

The last day of school was barely school. I fielded complicated questions from students who braved public transit to attend. I wiped down every desk between classes and reminded myself to breathe. I held it together so hard when students said goodbye with a strange, scared weight on that word.

Colleagues and I exchanged glances in the hallway at once tensed and comforting. We were in this together even if we were about to part ways for several months.

And when school as we know it stopped, we all took a long minute just to process that, it seemed impossible 400,000 students in Chicago now needed to learn from home and we would need to make that happen both as the third largest school district in the country and as the human beings who constitute it.

But the seemingly impossible keeps becoming reality really fast lately. So teachers jumped and adapted. We learned to host online meetings. We hung white boards on our living room walls. Many teachers struggled just reaching out to see if their students were all right.

And in addition to making remote learning plausible, teachers have also been organizing food drives and housing resources. They have made and donated masks by the thousands, and they’ve never stopped reaching out.

But this isn’t new. This isn’t dramatic heroism in the face of a pandemic. This is teaching; this is being invested in our communities.

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