Hello, Friend of JP!
Well, together, we’ve made it through two weeks. Congratulations to us all!
The most common and salient remark I’ve heard from everyone—kids, their parents, and our staff members—is how much each person misses one another, and JP. I certainly feel that way!
Our successes have been many. Thank you to our staff members—educators, bus drivers, secretaries, custodians, building monitor, tech coordinator—for delivering relevant and meaningful instruction to our pupils; for distributing two weeks, and then three weeks more, of meals to over 500 students; for providing responsive attention to telephone calls; for sanitizing our building over and over to ensure that it’s safe for teachers, aides, and others to come for resources and for parents to come for iPads and laptops to lend to youngsters who didn’t have access to devices at home; for communication one-on-one with each student or his or her parent almost daily; and for good-naturedly solving tech problems that our colleagues, our children, the latters’ parents, and our principal (!) encountered.
Thank you to you, our children’s parents. You’ve dropped off or picked up assignments or resources for your own youngsters and those of neighbors, guided your sons and daughters as they’ve begun to master remote-learning approaches, sent kind and thoughtful notes to our teachers, and been patient, flexible, understanding, and of good humor in the face of unprecedented challenges. We’ve so appreciated how this crisis has enhanced our partnerships with you and yours with us.
And thank you to our boys and girls, your boys and girls. Wow! Have they arisen to the occasion! They’ve met difficulties with effort, barriers with resourcefulness, and expressed their love and concern for their classmates, friends, and teachers. Some of our fifth graders have even become part of the solution, making videos of themselves doing read-alouds that we’ve posted on Ms. Henderson’s library webpage for our youngest learners to enjoy. Bravo!
While being thankful for and celebrating these successes, we also discovered a new reality: Whereas, in the days before we closed our schools, we planned for a two-week hiatus, we now understand that we have to consider educating our boys and girls remotely as a long-term enterprise.
Here’s a scenario:
A third-grade pupil is trying to learn a day’s lesson that she’s sought to access through a U.R.L. that her teacher provided after first having offered an instructional presentation via Zoom (or Google Meet or Class Dojo); the youngster is having trouble with the link. Meanwhile, her toddler brother is running around the room, squealing joyfully, as he plays with his toys. At the same time, the girl’s mother is glued to her own computer screen, unable to assist her daughter, because the mom has to do her own job from home. The mom figures that, to support her daughter, she’ll e-mail the teacher later that afternoon or evening to get the help that her third grader needs.
According to the parents of many of our children, the answer is yes. And we agree, for that scenario is similarly familiar to our teachers, for many of them are actually the mother in our scenario. The work that our scenario mom is doing from home is instructing our pupils in her JP class!
That’s by way of saying that we’re all in this together. So, as time accrues to our remote-learning enterprise, we look forward to some things falling into place and becoming easier: Heck, many folks know how lacking I am in computer skills, and even I’ve now become a prolific Zoom aficionado.
But we recognize, too, that some things may become more challenging: Our pupils may confront specific learning obstacles that, with a skilled teacher nearby, they’d more easily master. (Be assured that, after we return, we’ll assess our youngsters’ learning and ensure we reteach what they’ve missed.) Grown-ups may become impatient with the demands that schooling at home places on their own ability to meet their career responsibilities. (Stop; breathe in deeply; let the air out slowly. Or just walk away. Don’t allow your frustration to impinge on your relationships with the ones whom you love most or with those reaching through cyberspace to support your kids.)
With appreciation for our children, their parents, and our staff members, I wish you success in Week 3. And, after this week, we’ll welcome our well-deserved spring break.
Please take the time during our week off (Mon.-Fri., Apr. 6th-10th) to build positive memories with your family. And consider this thought that a college student, a senior at my alma mater, Cornell University, tweeted: “You have the chance to save the world by sitting at home with a book. This chance will not come again. Don’t mess it up.”