There is a perception right now that everything has changed, but what is the reality? We still need to educate our children and to prepare them for a complex future. We still need to tend to their religious, spiritual, emotional and social development.
I have always believed in intelligent educational innovation, but that does not mean jumping on every new bandwagon that comes along. Everything needs to be evaluated and updated when needed.
As we conclude the current school year and plan for the next, the situation requires accommodating our programs to individual situations — without compromising our standards. Every family will have different reactions to the resumption of in-school learning; parents have differing resources and genuine anxieties. We must share with each other what works and what doesn’t and not commit to rigidity in our decisions. The situation is very fluid.
Silver lining thinking is called for; maximize the new reality.
There is now time for activities that would have been difficult using our previous protocols. Time spent in school may be less than what we are used to, which can reduce the stress that some of students feel. We can return to an emphasis on fundamentals that sometimes get pushed to the margins of education. More concentration on developing skills in thoughtful communication — an emphasis on studying, reading, writing, as well as listening and speaking — may be the turning point for what some people, pre-pandemic, criticized about the citizens our schools were graduating. There will be time for families to re-invest in civil conversations, shared activities and a genuine understanding and appreciation of each other. There will also be more time for teachers to engage with individual students and their parents. Deeper cultivation and exploration of students’ special interests will be possible.
The building is closed now, but the school is open. Supervision of the educational experience must be ongoing. Students must feel that important learning takes place every day in every class and that there is accountability. Each period, attendance is taken and monitored. At frequent faculty meetings we collaborate and share new ideas for practices that work. Contact with parents for both commendation and correction is essential. The appropriate technical support for everyone must be in place.
The reality is that we all must be invigorated to adjust, grow and offer new opportunities to inspire our students.