As we come to our end of the school year, there is no doubt we are still learning how to navigate this new normal. This new way of life has definitely changed many of us. It has made some of us come out of our shell, get creative, and keep on moving forward. I thought I was creative; but running with a dog, playing hopscotch, and jumping on a trampoline was a level of creativity I never saw myself achieving.
I felt the need to connect with my kindergarteners one way or another, and I am so glad that videos worked. Those silly Friday videos gave my kiddos something to look forward to, something to smile about in the midst of all this chaos. These videos allowed them to see me as a regular person doing things they also do at home. I was no longer the teacher they had to be quiet for or the teacher they had to impress with good behavior in order to win prizes. It was me at home doing silly things just for them.
Along with lesson plans, parent calls and assignment, I also focused on my students’ emotional well-being. As an educator, this is what changed me the most. I struggled with technology those first couple of weeks and had to learn how to navigate new programs and apps. I feel I have learned so much regarding technology. However, the change I am really proud of is the type of connection I was able to create being miles away from my students. I reminded myself it is not only about giving them work and keeping track of who turns what in. It is about staying connected even if our only option at the moment is a virtual connection. It became my way of showing them I am still here and thinking about them.
We need to remember, in many ways this new reality is harder on students than it is on adults. Most of them went to school one day, left for spring break, and never went back. In students’ perspective, this situation may be an unexplainable loss that probably causes sadness and confusion. We can continue to teach math skills and reading strategies, but we cannot substitute real interaction between students and their friendships.
So, what happens now? When will we go back? I have asked myself these questions more than I would want to. We do not really know the answer to those questions. I think it is that uncertainty that makes us worry and stress even more. There are some plans as to how schedules will change once we are able to go back. But I really wonder if it will ever be the same. One thing I know for sure, I will appreciate walking the school hallways without a mask. I will always look forward to going to my room and seeing a room full of boys and girls eager to learn.
Although a pandemic is not what anybody wanted, we should also acknowledge the positive things it has done for us. The air is cleaner, there is no heavy traffic, there is no rush to go or be anywhere at a certain time, and families are together. Kids and adults are trying new things. The Earth took a break. It is almost as if we were the ones being sent to time out to let the Earth rest for a while. Enjoy your time at home as much as possible. Pick up a new hobby if you have time, or go back to a hobby you were not able to do because you were too busy. The most important thing is to find your happiness.