March 12, 2020 is a day that I will never forget as an educator. It was a day that changed my perspective as a teacher. It was the day that I said “Goodbye and see you Monday!” and that Monday will be coming hopefully soon, but possibly not this school year. I don’t know yet. Enough about me though. I’m changing my perspective on this situation.
If you reflect back on your school days, you will probably recall some event that really changed the course of our society. For some of you it may be the Challenger disaster, others it could be the Columbine school shooting, and for some it is 9/11. For our students, it is today. It is the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Here comes my perspective change. I need to think about how my students are feeling emotionally, socially, and spiritually, now more than ever! Yes, I’m their teacher, but I need to be strong for them. Yes, I’m hurting and I can’t hide that from my students and families, but I have to be present and ready to help them however I can. I need to be that presence in their lives that provides stability.
We will forever be in the conversation when students tell their friends, children, or grandchildren of this time. How do you want that story to be told? Do you want that story to be about a teacher that wasn’t helpful and only cared about driving curriculum during this time? Or do you want to be the educator who supported the emotional and social needs of the students and made sure they felt safe and cared for? Me…I want to be the teacher that was there for the students when they needed me most. I want to be a teacher that showed overwhelming care for.
Today is an opportunity for you to decide which educator you want to be. This situation will be long term and you still have the chance to make this a moment for you to build or strengthen your relationship with your students. Do you want to show your vulnerability but also show that you are that stability? Do you want to be the teacher where students say “My teacher really made me feel better when we were out!”? Or do you want to be that teacher where students say “All we did was work when we were out!”?
Be the support and stability. Be the educator that students will reflect back upon and say you were there for them. Be the teacher that made this experience a positive in the long run rather than a burden on the students and families.
This is our moment to make sure that we can bring positivity and hope in the lives of our students. Let’s think about the priorities. Let’s think about the true needs of our students. We need to be the teacher that, when this is all over and 20 years from now, students will remember for being there for them!