As a young platoon leader in the Army, we were quite often tasked by higher with “additional duties.” While we’d all graduated from our basic training, advanced individual training on our military occupational specialty (MOS), and held a myriad number of individual degrees, qualifications, and certifications, we quite often found ourselves doing anything but those things. Like the things we’d joined the Army to do and were trained experts in. Instead of jumping that day or training on our weapons and tactics, we’d be painting rocks, landscaping, or picking up trash. “Area beautification” they called it. To bide the time, our running joke became “additional duties include [insert your actual job here]”.
Our 8th graders have never had a year in middle school unaffected by COVID. As if teaching isn’t hard enough, we have teachers on our faculty who’ve never had a class or school year unaffected by COVID. During these times, we’ve been asked to do an innumerable number of things besides focus on teaching and learning, many out of our realm of expertise or level of comfort. It can feel like one of our additional duties is teaching!
I have some fond memories of the Army, even some from trash detail during Red Cycle. It wasn’t about having to wear a safety vest. It was about spending time with my people, sharing an experience (good or bad), and coming out the other side closer because of it. We remember our connections more than our circumstances. We’re in this together!