What Will Our Message Be?

“Children have an incredible ability to hear everything that you don’t want them to hear and some things that you do.” I remember an associate teacher telling me this in the Faculty of Education, and somehow, I re-learn the truth in these words year after year. In the classroom, my teaching partner, Paula, and I often try to find moments to connect with each other. Sometimes there’s value in standing back and watching the learning together. She sees something that I don’t see and vice versa. These moments of connection often help us with future planning.

While I think that we’ll forever look for these connection opportunities, we’re also very aware of what we see, what we say, and how we say it. Without a doubt, no matter where we’re talking in the classroom or how quietly we’re speaking, a child will hear one word, a short phrase, or a full sentence, and ask us about it. Even as an adult, I might walk out of the room where my parents are talking and come back in catching their last few words. I find myself asking similar questions to what kids ask us. This continues to be a good reminder for me that no matter how old we may be, words uttered by trusted adults hold a high degree of importance for us. This resonates with me now, as I contemplate the various opinions about Ford’s announcement that almost all classes will remain online for the rest of the school year.

For many people, this news comes with disappointment.

And while many might understand the safety reasons for Ford’s decision, this doesn’t mean that the news isn’t accompanied by big feelings. This is why I appreciate this article that I came across the other day. The school year isn’t over yet. While this ending might not be what some of us expected or wanted, it is the ending that we’re going to get. But maybe as we login each day to see each other, chat together, share laughs, and share learning, we can still have a good end to this very different school year. The adult voice is a strong one.

  • Have all the feelings.
  • Share all of them with kids if you want.
  • Empathize when they also voice their concerns.

But if, somewhere in here, we can also communicate that school’s continuing and that there are many things still worth coming for, maybe thinking around this remote learning experience will also change … for kids, for caregivers, and for educators. I know that I’m privileged to have the feelings that I do, and I can understand if yours are not the same. I also know that I’m going to keep showing up, day-after-day, and trying to enjoy these last moments with this wonderful class. That’s the way I want and need this school year to end. What about you?


4 thoughts on “What Will Our Message Be?

  1. Hi Aviva,

    Thanks for your breaking-the-pattern morning reflection. I worry sometimes about being *too sad* because I don’t want to bring them down or make them feel despair. You are so right about the tone we set and how important a few overheard words may become. This is NOT a “lost year” – we’ve learned a lot, even if it hasn’t been in the most ideal circumstances. I have quite a few students who are really struggling with learning online from home and having them just show up counts as a victory. Having said that, I try to balance the acknowledgement of the “sad feels” with positive moments, jokes and things that we can do NOW (as well as in the fall) that are engaging and interesting. For my class, this includes a finger tutting show on June 17 (some are performing, some are handling promotion, and others are being the supportive friends to watch practices and give feedback). There will also be the “student-in-charge” schedules – students have signed up for a period or two in order to teach us something, and it doesn’t have to link to the curriculum. I’ll probably write a bit more about that on my own blog.

    • Thanks Diana for your reply! I found myself nodding along to so much of what you said here. There’s a lot of balancing between acknowledging different feelings, being true to ourselves and others, while also not creating a completely sad atmosphere and ignoring the growth that has happened this year. I agree with you that it’s been far from a “lost year.”

      I love the sound of all of the different things you have planned in the coming weeks, and I do hope that you blog more about them. Your suggestions reminded me of this tweet from Enzo Ciardelli the other day:


      Is this the perfect time to try something new?

  2. Hello,
    I’m glad my tweet inspired you. I have always felt this way. June brings unique challenges even in a “normal” year. Some kids are tired, others are anxious … the bulk of our teaching and learning is done. When you consider risk, there is little risk in trying something new even if it’s one goal. Kids enjoy something new especially this late in the year. There is also no commitment to continue your experiment into the next school year. You could take your experiment and file it for another opportunity to use it. But you may hit on something that you were truly looking for. You mentioned the recent announcement of school closures, maybe a new experiment is a positive step to move forward.

    For myself, I am bringing back something I haven’t used in a while … Minecraft. With remote, they all have technology. So what’s to lose? You’re right Diana. This was a challenging year, but not a lost year. I love your idea of kids taking charge.

    • Thanks for your comment, Enzo! I completely agree with you here. Your tweet reminded me of when I taught Grade 6, and we really dove into some different projects (and even a little Minecraft) in June. It’s a great time to try something new. You’re also making me wonder here, as we’re not necessarily trying any big new things right now, although maybe extending learning in some slightly different ways. Paula and I have spoken about re-looking at some topics of interest, and ones that our kids continue to return to. Could June to be a good opportunity to go deeper in these areas, especially when children are passionate about them (e.g., art)? Now you have me contemplating, should we be trying something new as well? What could it be? Hmmm … I think you might have given us more to think about.


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