I went in to the noble profession of education because I love the relationships and bonds we educators are able to forge with kids. My school’s motto is: “Relationships as a Bridge to Learning.” Indeed, aren’t relationships and connections to shared experiences the foundation for which learning is able to occur? I need the 180 days with kids just as much as they need us. The very idea of “social distancing” and “distance learning” is such a foreign concept to me and goes against the very ethos of our school system that I am still trying to determine what it all means and what it will possibly look like. If I am currently feeling anxiety, depression, and fear, then just try to imagine what our kids are feeling. And that is what I keep coming back to.
The biggest questions I keep getting asked by parents are, “What can I be doing with my son or daughter right now? What should their daily schedule look like? Is two hours of academic work, plus a piano lesson, plus 45 minutes of reading enough? Do I need to do more? I don’t want my child to fall behind!” I think these questions are fair and we all know that routine is good for a child. It makes them feel safe and secure knowing what’s expected and what is coming next. Sadly, we don’t know what is coming next; information and decisions that affect our state and country seem to be changing by the day, if not by the hour. So right now parents need to control what is in their power, and that is to provide as much comfort and love to their children as possible. Years from now, kids may or may not remember what school work they did while sheltering in place, but they are going to remember how they felt during this time, how they were loved and cared for by their parents and grandparents, how their teachers checked in with them from home, and how they were able to persevere. That is what is most important right now.
I am constantly thinking about my teachers and trying to encourage them the best possible way that I can right now. I hope they know how much I appreciate their tireless efforts and for trying new things, even if it’s completely out of their comfort zones. I know they have so many questions, and even though I don’t have all the answers, I want them to know that I believe in them and fully trust that we’re all going to get through this and come out stronger in the end.
During this time, we have been given the opportunity to become even closer with our own families. My son and I have recently taken to playing tennis in the street every afternoon, hitting the ball back and forth over an imaginary net. We take family walks outside with the dog. We play games—actual board games! We cook meals together. We are reading a book together as a family. We’re doing puzzles. We’re playing music together. We are watching classic movies and eating popcorn. And yes, my son is doing academic work, but my wife and I are intentionally sharing our time and experiences with him to ensure his learning is able to continue.
Please know this: your students and children are going to be fine. Do not worry about them regressing or forgetting skills and concepts they have learned this year, for when the time comes and we can all meet back at our beautiful campuses, we educators will be there to greet the kids, and we will meet them where they are at—both academically and socially—and they will be loved even more, if that is even possible.
Principal AJ Anderson