Not Defined by a Building
"I felt an instant need to find alternative ways to maintain and support relationships with my students, staff, and families."
As the building leader, I was truly entering unknown or unchartered waters. I had never felt so much like everyone was looking to me for a reaction and next steps as I did at this point in my career. I remember constantly questioning in my mind how long it would last. There was a constant mind drift to, "When things return to normal," but I had little idea at that time about what was actually at play and what would ensue over the next year or so in our schools.
I felt an instant need to find alternative ways to maintain and support relationships with my students, staff, and families. I always knew that school was a part of me, but this quick halt to our normal way of life, well it solidified that in my mind forever. I need school just as much as school needs me.
Talk about quickly realizing and recognizing things that we won't take for granted anymore! I remember wishing to go back to school in-person and for COVID to go away so desperately. I would think things like, "I will take every challenging behavior possible, every difficult parent interaction, anything and everything if we can just go back." I found myself looking for safe ways to conduct home visits for those who needed it, as well as finding engaging and technology-savvy ways to connect online with my school community. Zoom and Youtube instantly became my new best friends and I learned an entirely new skill set in about a week or two. But it wasn't just me. It was my teachers. My entire staff. My students. My fear and panic turned to pride and hope. It has been my students and my school community that have helped me remain positive and focused during this time.
It has been tough. Long. Hard. Frustrating. Isolating at times. It has also been rewarding. It has been a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the MPTS school community unite and support one another the way that it has. It has been uplifting to see the grit and perseverance from teachers and students alike. It has been humbling to be able to lead the charge in the pandemic. Servant leadership has taken on a totally new meaning in schools during COVID.
I have learned that a school community is not defined by a building. It is defined by the community of people that make up said school. I have also learned that proximity is important. It matters. We crave proximity to those that are important to us. We learned new ways to make proximity work via electronics during COVID. It was not easy and it was not always fun, but we did it because human connection is at the very root of what we do as educators. I learned about grit and perseverance in a new way. I learned about leading during the unknown. I learned how to turn fear into motivation.
- Lauren Fowler