I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7 ESV
A School Year Like No Other
This school year has been some roller coaster ride. Many of us around the country had little to no time to prepare or say goodbye to our students before we had to embark on 100% virtual learning. It was amazing to see how educators and companies from across the US and the world came together to bring resources and support to families in a matter of days.
It is hard to imagine exactly what next year will be like for sure. One thing is for certain-next year and the years after may never looked the same as they have in the past. Schools are looking at offering full virtual, hybrid options, and taking a hard look at their schedules to accommodate students in the safest ways possible. It is certainly a celebration with how everyone came together this year, even though it is not the way we wanted to end the year with our students and colleagues.
Takeaways From This Year
Although this is not a normal year by any means, there are some key takeaways that we can build upon as we move forward in our teaching careers. I feel this especially for first year teachers in their own classrooms for the first time. I can’t imagine going through my first year of teaching and then having to work remotely for the last three months of the school year. There was definitely not a college class to prepare anyone for that! Here are some things we have learned from this school year:
- Flexibility– It was so cool to see how teachers and parents were flexible and went from in person teaching to virtual in a matter of days. Parents also needed to rework their own schedules to fit in their own jobs plus teaching from home.
- Teamwork– School administrators, food service, teachers, and support staff all worked tirelessly to support all of our students. It is amazing what we can accomplish when we are all rowing in the same direction!
- Communication– It was not always perfect, but everyone worked hard to communicate with each other. We learned that over communication is better than a lack of communication. Those Zoom meetings with students were sure interesting! I’m sure we could all use a break from the virtual meetings for a few weeks.
- Grace- Everyone’s personal circumstances were different toward the end of the school year. It was important to show students, families, and our coworkers grace for getting the work done. The parents who both are working full time AND trying to teach their own children are truly talented! It was great to see around the country how teachers and families supported each other to get through these tough last months of school.
How Can We Improve For Next Year?
Now that we have seen a glimpse of what next year might look like, would you do anything different to create a better experience for your students, families, and yourself as a teacher? During this summer break, it will be important to reflect on the end of the year and replicate what went well, and to try some new things. If you are a beginning teacher or know someone who is, check out Teaching For God’s Glory- Daily Wisdom and Inspiration for New Teachers. This book has practical advice and encouragement for each day of the school year. A great gift for anyone to start the school year! During the school closure, there was almost too many resources out there to look at, and I felt like I was bombarded with advertisements of a different website to try everyday.
Teaching For God’s Glory-Daily Wisdom and Inspiration For New Teachers
Teaching For God’s Glory is a daily guide and support for new teachers. Each day there is an inspirational Bible verse or quote for reflection as well as advice from veteran master teachers all across the country. The book covers topics such as behavior management, collaborating with colleagues, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
This summer I plan to spend some time navigating programs such as ScootPad, which is an adaptable program that utilizes NWEA scores to help meet students where they are ready to learn. Google Classroom has been a fantastic management system for us to use and navigate, but I also want to learn more about the advanced features that they offer as it appears we will be using virtual learning a lot more in the future.
Most importantly, I want to continue to improve on ways to interact with my students to build rapport and help students that might be struggling at home. This can be a lonely time for many students, and having a daily or weekly check-in might be exactly what they need to get through each day and become more engaged with their classmates and their schoolwork.
Time to Rest and Recharge
Above all else, know that you mean the world to your students. Even if they did not participate in any of your Zoom meetings or complete much of their work, your relentless pursuit to make sure they were loved and cared for during this time will stick with them forever.
Thank you teachers, administrators, support staff, and families for all rallying around our students and communities to help them succeed. Well done, good and faithful servant. It’s time to rest and recharge for next year, so we can be ready for whatever comes our way!