We did it … or we’re doing it … or within a week, this very different year, with time spent online and in the classroom together, will be over — at least from a synchronous perspective in our Board, as the last couple of days will be asynchronous learning, cleaning up, dropping off and picking up items, and saying “goodbye.” While the amount of pivoting this year should make all of us expert dancers 🙂 , I’m still sad to end this memorable school year. Once again, cleaning up in a silent school seems strange, and celebrating over the computer will still be great, but likely not the same.
As this school year comes to an end, I think that there are many people to thank. While I appreciate every “thank you” that comes my way, and have extended some of my own thanks to different educators and administrators, this blog post is for other individuals. Today, I would like to say a huge thank you to our amazing caregivers, kids, and families.
I was out for breakfast this morning on a patio, and I ran into parents from a previous school of mine. I didn’t have the opportunity to teach their children, but I knew them well, and it was great to see one of their kids with them today. As we connected for a few minutes, the mom spoke briefly about her remote learning experience for five kids, in one household, in all different grades. She smiled lots and appreciated the opportunity for her kids to learn, even if that learning happened in front of a device. At home, my only distractions are two dogs, who sometimes love to say “hello” to the people and pets walking down the street. This seems small in comparison to what this family is negotiating, while also trying to do their own work at home. It’s for parents like these two, and the numerous ones in our class, who helped inspire this post.
To every one of our caregivers …
- Thank you for logging in even when there are a million different things going on, and you’re trying to balance your own work with school.
- Thank you for your upbeat attitude, daily smiles, and friendly hellos, even when all three might be hard to do.
- Thank you for showing that you’re human — that some days are harder than others, that sometimes stress is more, and that on some days, you just can’t get remote learning to work. We understand.
- Thank you for your incredible patience, even when MS Teams is “glitchy” (a new word for the year), audio cuts in and out, and pacing is slower or faster than on other days.
- Thank you for being there for your children always — be it to help login, to help mute, unmute, or raise a hand (although many of our kids are incredibly independent at this now), and to offer a hug, a loving smile, or just a reminder to your kids that they can do it, even when they’re not sure that they can.
- Thank you for knowing when your child might need a day off, a shorter meeting time, or an early leave. This is uncharted waters here, and given the difference between remote and in-person learning, maybe on some days, a little less screen time is a good thing.
- Thank you for sharing student learning from home — whether it be through a photograph, a video, or an email. Remote learning is all about working together, and we know that we could not have done what we did over the past three months without you.
To every one of our students …
- Thank you for coming as much as you do, even though other things might be taking your attention at this time of the year.
- Thank you for filling our day with laughter, stories, and new learning.
- Thank you for showing us that socializing can happen online, and how to make this possible.
- Thank you for continuing to push yourselves, even though a “home” might feel differently than a “school.”
- Thank you for being your true selves, no matter what the day may bring. From happy smiles to sad tears, we’re always here for you, whether in-person or online.
- Thank you for helping us tackle tough subjects, even virtually, and for being so respectful of different opinions and new perspectives.
- Thank you for reminding us that a meeting time never has to be set, and just like our schedule is ish-like in the classroom, it can be ish-like online. Thank you for being excited enough to spend extra time with us and share “one more thing” no matter what the clock time might say.
- Thank you for reminding us that what was important in the classroom is also important virtually, and that you’re excited for routine, no matter where that routine might be.
- Thank you for trying and inspiring some new routines with us, and making us think about how we can incorporate these routines in-person.
To every one of our families …
- Thank you for reminding us that online learning is about more than just the kids in the class.
- Thank you for increasing our conversations and having us reconsider what learning looks like with all that you contribute.
- Thank you for bringing us smiles each day with “hellos” from baby siblings and a variety of pets — from cats and kittens to dogs to birds, rabbits, and even ants.
- Thank you for showing us that even animals can create art, and sharing with us the lovely artwork that a pet dog made the other day.
- Thank you for bringing us additional smiles each and every day.
- Thank you for providing that “noise” that we have missed from back at school.
- Thank you for helping make the online environment feel like a community of learners.
If ever there was a school year that speaks to the value of student, parent, and family engagement, I think that it’s this year. The next week is sure to bring with it more smiles, more stories, more fun, and probably, a few more tears. My teaching partner, Paula, and I are looking forward to making even more memories in the coming days. What about you? Here’s to a wonderful end to this school year, and many thanks to the incredible people that helped make it possible.
Aviva: Okay, I’m tearing up. I admit it. Thanks to you and Paula for the amazing ways you’ve connected with your families this year. I have been awe-struck.
This past year has seen school and home forced together in ways we’ve never experienced before. Some teachers found it a challenge. Others saw the possibilities and soared. Many of the latter, like you, had engaged families prior to this and had an idea how to do it. A few started from scratch and, I hope, have seen what sharing, listening and collaborating can accomplish.
I know this has been an incredibly challenging year for teachers and I know families will be forever grateful for all they did. For now, you will never know how grateful I am that you acknowledged – and valued – the challenges faced by your families, as your partners.
I hope you and Paula have a restful, peaceful, anything-you-want summer. xo
Thank you so much, Nancy, for your lovely comment that is having me tearing up right now (and I’m sure Paula too). Yes, it’s been a very different school year, and challenging at times, but your comment reminds me of some wonderful learning that came out of it: even more possibilities for what family engagement can look, sound, and feel like. It’s shown us exactly what’s possible. While I only spoke to the mom for less than two minutes this morning, she helped me see remote school from her perspective. It really made me realize how much parents are balancing at home right now, and while I can’t relate given my own experiences, I can say how grateful I am to each and every caregiver, student, and family member.
Have a great summer too! Thanks for continuing to teach us and make us think more about parent and family engagement!
Aviva and Paula,
Thanks so much for sharing your journey this year. It has been inspiring, emotional and fun. Out-of-the-box thinking helps us pivot and respond to changes. This year has been unprecedented and your willingness to share the ups and downs, the challenges and successes, the happy and the sad, has really helped to let others know it can be done, and it can still be social, interactive and personal, even though your connection is a screen (or 6 feet apart) The resilience that the children demonstrated was a testament to the importance of relationships.
Have a great summer! 🙂
Thank you so much, Monica, for your kind words and all of your support! We really appreciated the learning opportunity this year, even though it wasn’t always easy. Students, caregivers, and families definitely helped show us what is possible, along with inspiration from other educators along the way.