To say that times are different would be a gross understatement. Never have we had to "do school" quite like this, as our calls to be a teacher/counselor/personal cheerleader/additional caregiver extraordinaire have been kicked up a notch to now be able to accomplish all of this in a virtual setting (depending on what's happening in your local community). For my school community specifically, this has meant longer hours, more detailed planning, and an intensive blur between home and work that at times has left us all feeling dazed and confused, which means our students are struggling even more to recognize the line between home and school in a way that can be disorienting and simply terrorizing in nature.
As I'm writing this, I'm actively thinking of how to stay ahead of my students' needs to the extent I am privileged to know what those needs actually are, while tempering my desires to do more than what is humanly possible, personally sustainable and professionally appropriate considering we can't do it all. But what for me remains most important to share is encouragement to continue offering all of the love, grace and support we know we need as adults right now to the children we are honored to work with from the comforts (or potential hells, or more than likely somewhere in between) of their homes, to find ways to build community, spark joy, and cultivate belonging in a space that can easily demolish possibility. How you do this will look and feel different but I implore us all to continue to think beyond what is required and to consider what is humanizing and affirming, how we can find moments to infuse care and covering between managing the chat, the waiting room, the gallery view, the assignment task at hand, the school mandates, the district mandates or anything else you can think of that we are having to consider.
So as you continue to plan intentionally for how you will check off all of these boxes, I hope you will add your own boxes for joyful and authentic relationship-building, knowing that we all need it right now, and that our babies need it the most. So whether you encourage an impromptu pet showcase, invite siblings and guardians to stop by and say hello or even join live sessions, encourage students to eat and take bathroom breaks as needed, carve out time to geek out over a favorite TV show, or make a playlist of all of your students' favorite songs for work time-- I encourage you to get even more creative, be even more patient, and extend even more grace than you normally would during the traditional in-person school year because our very psychological and spiritual lives depend on it if we are to make it to the other side of this-- hopefully stronger and more connected than before.
With endless love and respect,