More than Enough
"The bright spots have been the resilience of my staff, students and community."
It has been a huge task that no one can handle alone. The first challenge was to reframe our mindset because we were trying to teach children and maintain the same expectations as if they were in the schoolhouse. Students were dealing with all types of challenges and it did not matter their race or socio-economic status. All parents (including myself) struggled trying to maintain a sense of normalcy and routines. Working parents and teachers were ALL stressed with their own issues (access to internet, job constraints, emotional unrest, stress, financial and food challenges). We were so worried about students, we did not check on the adults as well.
My biggest successes began to happen when I slowed down and addressed each challenge with equity and not equality. Everyone DID NOT need the same thing. I strengthened my listening and empathy skills. In the past, I was quick to cross things off my "to do" list and move to the next thing. By slowing down, I gave myself time to actually process what I was doing; for example, interviewing candidates and actually listening to their answers without having a preconceived opinion. When staff came into my office with questions, thoughts or concerns, I stopped and put my pen down and actually gave them my full attention. As a result, they felt heard and respected. When I have classes to visit, I give myself an hour instead of 30 minutes so I can sit and fully engage in their learning. Students seem to appreciate my visits and sharing their work samples with me.
I miss hugging my students and staff. I miss seeing their smiles and being able to wipe their tears away from their faces (I still sneak and do this sometimes, you can't help it). The bright spots have been the resilience of my staff, students and community. When we hit a brick wall, we went around it. Again, we gave ourselves permission to be upset at times, but we never gave up. My staff constantly says, "It's ok, Mrs. Blue, we can have a Virtual Career Day, Virtual Clubs, more small group time.” They volunteer to come in on the weekends to paint the bus lot. We do whatever it takes and this has been a breath of fresh air!
What concerns me most is when others do not realize that we ARE still in a pandemic. Children (and adults) are still suffering and doing without. We must give ourselves time to recover from this. I appreciate the district's approach not to focus on remediation/retention, but instead enriching our students' learning experience and providing opportunities to complete our unfinished learning. Our students are not behind. There will be time for them to show their mastery of learning, but it can't be in the same traditional ways that we have always leaned on.
I gave myself permission to not have all the answers. I reached out to some of my closest principal friends as well. We cried, laughed, and found solutions together. I'm OK....For a minute, I did not think I could lead through a pandemic. I've made my mistakes and learned from them. I'm doing the best I can as a mother, wife, caregiver, and friend. I'm OK and that's more than enough!!! BIG SMILE!
- Angela Blue