How Might We Create “Safe And Cozy Schools?”

Wow! What a year! With ending on such a strange note, via an online meeting, from a distance, with our class of kindergarteners, it didn’t feel like previous school years. When the meeting was over, I started working my way through some emails. Both my teaching partner, Paula, and I were incredibly grateful for the kind words and anecdotes that parents shared with us. There was one email though that really stuck with me for the past couple of days … not only because of what was mentioned, but because of what wasn’t.

Here’s the message that we received (with the child’s name removed) on Friday evening.

“[Name] really had a blast this year in your class! It’s so great to see her grow and develop.”

Do you also notice what’s missing? Not one mention of distance learning, and from the parent of a child who attended all 54 days of online meetings: sometimes multiple meetings in a day. This had me pause, for in its own way, I began to wonder if this was part of our intention: to create enough normal so that even from a distance, children were able to engage, create, think, and grow in similar ways that they would have in our physical classroom. 

I started to think about a video message that I watched recently by Kristi Keery-Bishop. She talks about the importance of “safe and cozy schools,” and begins to wonder what this might look like for us now.

It’s something that I’m going to be thinking a lot about this summer, for I have to wonder if a “safe and cozy environment” — and the strong relationships that are a part of it — might allow more kids and adults to experience that feeling of comfort no matter what school itself might look like. I have no doubt that many children, along with many parents, educators, and administrators, will remember the 2019-2020 school year because of the past three months, but what else might also be worth remembering? What’s needed to create a “safe and cozy school,” which exists in spite of the restrictions that might also exist? I know this seems like a Utopian ideal, but the words shared by this mom makes me consider the possibilities no matter where or how “school” might take place.


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