Talk of the Corona-Virus had been a lunch time topic in the teacher's lounge earlier in February when the CDC began making announcements that we should prepare for a radical shift to the way we conduct our lives. "You don't think that school will...?" "Nah, no way. They will never shut down the ENTIRE school system" was the general opinion. I really didn't think much of it. But weeks later, in the matter of a few days, we went from a thriving, bustling classroom to an abrupt 'stop everything and pack up now' scenario. Some students cheered, some cried when the news came. It all felt--still feels--dream-like.
It has taken me weeks to find all of them and reconnect online, as they have disappeared into their homes and neighborhoods as we ride out this "storm" both collectively and individually.
There was an immediate response to SAVE OUR SCHOOL YEAR and parents scrambled to create schedules and start homeschooling by the next week. I did not get caught up in the work frenzy, instead my mind raced to, "How is everyone's heart?" My gut instinct was not to focus on saving the lost academics, but the lost personal relationships and connection.
I think it is without doubt that the experience of the Covid-19 Pandemic will absolutely change the way in which we view education. I feel that in many ways being pushed off the cliff into a totally immersive digital learning platform will not necessarily be for the worse. In many ways, technology IS the skill set our young students need, as their future will require it. This moment in education is pushing teachers to grow in their practices like never before.
That said, while curriculum may be adapted to fit online needs, what has become even more apparent to me is the critical role that teachers play in connection, relationships, and modeling healthy social-emotional behavior.
I am so grateful that my students and I had already established a healthy and strong relationship prior to this epidemic, and every time we meet on-line all they want to talk about is how much they miss their teachers, friends, and other staff members. It is NOT just math and reading we must tend to right now, it is also the heart. Staying calm and connected will be critical in the upcoming months.
What I would like to strengthen during this time is our connection and letting them know how loved and missed they are. I would like to put together a small personalized note/care package to send to each of them in the mail to let them know I am thinking of them. Each card would be printed in color, written with a PERSONAL note to each student with something specific I would like to say to each one of them. Also enclosed will be a friendship bracelet for us to wear as a community of learners until we come back together at our school as a promise of hope.
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