Back to School 2020 is different from every back to school I've ever known. The only year I ever missed a "back to school" since I was five years old was 2010 when I was home on leave, about to have my son. I have 35 years of back to schools to draw on, but this one is quite unique. Masks? Temperature checks? Sneeze guards? These are the new words we associate with back to school.
If ever there was a time to teach children by example, it is now.
We tell them to be life-long learners. If we complain about all the new things we have to learn, what message are we sending. Instead, see the new digital tools and ways of teaching as something exciting to learn. Show them you are happy about what you are learning.
We tell them to be flexible. If we are rigid in thinking only of how it used to be, we cannot embrace the new possibilities. We will be stuck in old ways that don't work. Instead, model how to switch gears and try a new approach when one way doesn't work. Adapt to remote, hybrid or new methods of teaching in person. Share with students that you are working on being more flexible as a thinker and learner.
We tell them to be kind. If we are angry at everyone who thinks or votes differently than us, than we are not really living that value. The world is big with lots of opinions. There are shades of gray. Instead of adding to the hate, stand true in your integrity. Listen. Try to see a new perspective. Show students that educated people can listen to many different ideas and then learn to keep the ones that make the most sense to them.
We tell them to work hard.
We tell them to persist.
We tell them to dream big.
We tell them to work together.
Let's show the way. Let's use this moment to dream big of new ways school can be better for everyone. It will be very challenging, so let's show them that we can persist through hard things. Let's show them what happens when we work together and share our resources- including our ideas. Let's take the lemons that 2020 has continued to dole out and make the very best batch of lemonade.
Our kids- all our kids- deserve the very best we can offer.
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski