It’s been more than 2 months since we closed our schools. During this time, I’ve sent three letters and held two all staff meetings, it’s now time that I send a 4th letter.
The last staff meeting, which was on the final day of February, we talked about Seed 2.0, and on the 7th of March, I had a live broadcast for parents to announce this initiative and Seed Extension. Since then we have done 39 online demos, and more than 100 students have attended. From these demos we have had 32 students pay for online classes: phonics, speak better, and parents English. By the end of this week there will be 8 new online classes running.
When I held the first online phonics class orientation with students and parents, I told them that this feels so excited, students come from different cities, and we’re all connected by Seed. Meanwhile, almost all of our classes in all regions have started online teaching with new content, and classes from BJ and NJ have done their first online unit tests. Along with the online unit tests, we have moved HW for phonics and speak better to Little Goose. Seed 2.0 is taking off, just as we have said we would do from previous staff meetings; Top, Top 3.0, and Seed 1.0. Our move online is not a temporary solution, Seed has been transformed into a new organization and there is no looking back, only forward. The first thing we needed to do was upgrade our minds (and our internet). We also needed to be open to different tools and ideas, be more creative and capable.
During all of these rapid changes everyone must understand that whatever we do, the educational goal will not change, the objectives will not change. We must always try to improve our teaching efficiency and effectiveness, unlock students’ potential, and try our best to help parents save money and time. Now, after one month we can say that Seed Extension can improve our efficiency and effectiveness in many areas. The most important is that we can see students are learning and making progress.
As an organization we were so proud of ourselves three months ago at our conference, we felt we delivered great values to our students, parents and society. And then everything changed so quickly. When we realized we couldn’t open our schools, how many of you had the question: “what is our value to parents and students now?” Should our values have disappeared just because students can’t come to classes in our schools? If the answer is yes, this means we are not as good as we thought we were. This is a great chance for us to make our principles clear again, and to review what we truly believe, even when stress surrounds us. Our entire team must understand what we do and practice what we preach during this hard time. The world will always change, life will never stop shocking or surprising us. Our schools have a great spirit, ever since the beginning when no one thought we would survive, no one thought we can deeply motivate students, no one thought the way we do business would work. Our values are on all of our walls, we will always focus on ourselves, reflect and use all the opportunities to grow, never run away from our responsibilities, always respect people, be socially minded, try to understand how to have win-win situations, be disciplined and ethical, always be positive, be brave to face whatever hard situation there is, be inquiring, never stay satisfied in only one place. And, don’t forget that it’s important to have a fun attitude. There is a Chinese saying: 苦中作乐（Enjoy the hardship）it means you need to use your imagination to find the fun even in a very bad reality.
It has been a very difficult period for many of us, life is full of uncertainty, struggles and fear. In the training industry there have been many organizations that have already gone bankrupt, even the big ones. We can see bankruptcy happening every day. At the same time, there is no sign that students will go back to school soon, not to mention go back to their training schools. Are we a fragile organization, robust, or antifragile? I asked myself this question and I really want to say THANK YOU to the people who have shown themselves to be antifragile. You have used your strong spirit, attitude, and initiative to make things happen. There are many individuals who put the school, students and each other’s needs above everything else. Many of you tried your very best to get on board with new things, step out of your comfort zone, kept fighting and growing. I have heard so many stories about how our people tried to deal with so many difficulties, and used this chance to overcome weaknesses and fear, and you became stronger. I have also heard a lot about how this situation has made people think more about their own life’s purpose, reflect on themselves, and try to be wiser. I’m inspired by these stories, and feel so proud of our team. Although we can’t see each other, actually, I feel the team is much closer than before.
So what happens now? We will eventually come back to school, but we don’t know when our students will return. This pandemic is still very unpredictable worldwide, but one thing we can be sure about is that it will significantly change the world. Huge changes in the worldwide economy, society and politics keep happening. We don’t know what all the world leaders will do, if they will work together and bring the world closer or divide it more than it already is. I’m sure we will hear more shocking news and more sad stories in the weeks and months to come, this usually happens because of the arrogance, ignorance, and/or stubbornness of leaders around the world acting out of fear. There’s an interview I watched last week that talked about how much the world needs good leaders right now. Look at all the leaders, how do they lead during this pandemic? You can see what they truly care about, some care about people, some care about politics, some care about the economy. Some try to connect the world; others are just dividing it. At this moment we can’t do much to change the world, but what we can do is continue what we try to do every day, help future leaders grow. Although it may not feel like it, we do have the power to influence the future in small ways. I hope as an educator you can take your responsibility, don’t be down yourself, be strong, use your power, even if you think you have very little influence. Remember the “butterfly effect”, remember the golden wings you have, you can make a small difference, it all starts with you, what will your actions be, how you will affect those around you. Be a positive and dependable force in these times of uncertainty.
Chinese society has been shut down for over a month, Wuhan and Hubei have been closed for more than two months. Many people witnessed how inconvenient our life has been, but by today, when I look at the low number of cases in the cities where our schools are located, it shows our perseverance has paid off:
We have all sacrificed so much and continue to endure hardships. It seems like ages ago when the outbreak first started. Masks seemed only important for older people, everyone still tried to gather during CNY, and people did not let it affect their lives. I was even one of the people who was refusing to wear masks. Eventually people started changing their behavior, this only happened when they felt their individual efforts did mean something. I still remember one of the very famous doctors said——"People who think the death rate is low don’t care, but it’s not about the number, it’s about lives, lives from every single family. Wearing masks and not going out is not for you the individual, it’s for other people” I’m glad I listened, I cared and did my part to help. Suddenly everyone was doing their part to help, our entire nation was working together and we all continue to work together and face hardships, even if they do not seem to make sense at the time, we keep fighting in solidarity.
This fight has been a test for everyone. I recently heard a reporter from the BBC say something similar to this statement, “whatever happens, how you react defines who you are.” This is a chance for every one of us to think about our lives. You will see how the whole world reacts and how different people react to the situation and what drives them to react in this way. As a team, our mission is “Dedicated to Growth”, what should our actions be and what should we do at this moment? Our perspective is the bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity we have to grow. I hope everyone can use this chance to challenge yourself to be mature, stronger and wiser.
That’s easier said than done, the emotional toll has been high. We must first accept the truth and facts of the situation, then put our feelings of self-pity aside, and not be complacent about life as it currently is. We are a learning organization, now is the time to remember what we have learnt in past years, what books we have read, what wisdom we have gained. There is a saying from Romain Rolland I always liked since I was in high school: “There is only one heroism in the world: to see the world as it is and to love it.(世界上只有一种真正的英雄主义,那就是认清生活真相后依旧热爱生活)” In this situation we should never stop being a better us, we should never change our principles, we should do whatever we believe is the right thing, no matter what other people will do, the mission, the values should never change. I am asking everyone to join me in believing that whatever happens, you will gain precious life experiences, you will gain wisdom and you will be a better you, we will be a better school.