Persevering Together in a Year Like No Other
Wow. What a school year this has been for all of us: teachers, families, and students.
When I prepared my classroom over the summer for our incoming class of kindergarten students, so many doubts and fears lingered in the back of my mind from the shut-down in the spring. Our classrooms were emptied without warning when schools closed in March. Artwork still hung on the walls. Unfinished chapter books sat on the bookshelves. We moved online without another option, knowing our students missed out on so much by not being physically together in the classroom.
Would that happen again? How far would we make it into the 2020-2021 school year, even with all our new policies for sanitizing, hand-washing breaks, social distancing, masks, and air purifiers?
The start of the school year in the classroom was an answer to prayer. We made it to mid-November before COVID-19 changed our plans, and we had to transition to a season of online learning.
Each month we hoped to return to in-person learning. Online learning continued to be extended—a reality that wasn’t easy for anyone. We cried over empty classrooms and the frustration of trying to make learning meaningful through a computer screen. Students missed the routines of learning in a classroom setting. Parents were now educators as well, on the front lines of helping their students progress through online learning.
And yet, together, we persevered. As a school community, we continued through the difficulties, through the disappointment, through the times we just wanted to give up.
When we set our date to open in our new half-day hybrid model on February 1, we were thrilled. The weather, of course, had other plans. But after the snow finally came to an end, February 3 was a great day.
We know it’s still not easy. It’s still not ideal. Trying to fit a whole day of learning into two and a half hours is a challenge. How can we make school fun and focus on social-emotional growth, while still hitting those essential academic skills? How can we make the most of our time? How can we partner with families to help our students learn and grow?
The challenges are not over. Not for teachers, not for students, and not for families. We are learning to be flexible. We are learning (or trying to learn) to give up our desire for control in favor of trusting a God who is with us every step of the way, a God who is enough when we are completely inadequate.
We are persevering, continuing on, taking this school year one day at a time.
But in a school year unlike any other, I know we couldn’t do this without each other. Our school community—teachers, administrators, staff, families, and students—perseveres together, not alone.
When we persevere together in trust, honesty, and grace, we can face each new day of this school year, no matter what it brings.