Two Perspectives by Lisa Richardson, Fifth grade teacher
Friday the 13th. That day gets a bad rap for so many reasons: bad luck, superstition, horror movies. Now, we can also add, Friday, March 13, 2020. This was the day we were told all schools must close their buildings. School would need to be taught remotely. Looking back, I remember feelings of disbelief. I thought it would be temporary and that after spring break we would all be back together. Not once did I think I would be teaching my 5th graders remotely for the rest of the year.
As a teacher, I felt concerned and unprepared to handle this type of instruction. On Monday and Tuesday of the following week, I was overwhelmed with information on how best to teach and support my students. I was grateful to be working with such a devoted and supportive staff who were all willing to put in as many hours as needed to make sure we could offer the best teaching practices possible on such short notice.
As a parent of a 4th grader and a junior in high school, I was equally unprepared for the amount of support I would need to provide for my own children. Not only would I learn quickly that I could not just send them off to their teachers and walk away, but I would need to wear the hat of both parent and teacher for them, while trying to learn how to best accommodate my own students. Believe me when I say there were many days with tears and frustration from all of us in my house.
Now four weeks later, I finally feel like I am getting my feet back under me. What I have learned is valuable practices as both a parent and as a teacher.
- Be present: This means communicating and listening to the best of my abilities. Let’s be honest, some days are better than others when it comes to being present, but I can always do the best I can with what I have been given on each day. As a teacher, I know that after my Zoom session with my class, there are students who I need to check in with on a 1:1 Zoom call or an email or on Schoology. I find these meetings extremely beneficial. As a parent, I also find that I need to check in with both of my own kids, especially my older son.
- Set manageable expectations: I learned quickly that when it comes to online teaching, I cannot just let the students talk out whenever they feel like it. Funny, this is exactly the same situation as teaching students in class. Why I thought it would be different, I have no idea. I had to set expectations for my online classroom that were exactly the same as in class; students needed to mute their screens and raise their hands. At home, I honestly had to lower my expectations for my own kids. Yes, there was a lot more screen time allotted. Yes, there was more bickering between them that I allowed in order to keep my sanity. And yes, my house did look like a tornado blew through on most days—especially the kitchen, because 16 year old boys eat all the time! Some things I just needed to let go in order to preserve my own sanity.
- Be supportive but do not enable: This is extremely hard for a lot of parents to do. I received many emails in the first couple of weeks from parents who felt very overwhelmed. What I have learned is that at school, in a class of 22, students have to learn how to manage themselves. They learn how to work independently and they learn how to cooperate, and miraculously, they even learn patience. As parents, we need to do the same at home. Support when and where we can, but allow them to struggle. They will emerge in one piece at the other end, I promise!
- Remember to breathe: There is a reason why there are so many bible verses related to breath. Here are a few examples:Job 27:3–As long as my breath is in me, the spirit of God is in me.Isaiah 42:25—Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it.
- John 20:22—And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
- Job 33:4– The spirit of God has made me and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Every time we take a breath, we are allowing God to give us life. So, the next time you are at your wits end, remember to take a deep breath and let goodness enter you and then exhale the frustration away. Most importantly, give yourself some grace! We may not have control over much in our lives these days, but we do have the power to breathe and let go. Remember, we are loved so much, even on our worst of days. I miss Hope so much. I miss my co-workers, I miss the families, I miss the students and I especially miss my class of awesome 5th graders. Yet, despite all of these new challenges, I know we will get through this and be stronger for it. Just remember to keep breathing!
May 4-8: Teacher Appreciation Week
May 22 & 25: Memorial Weekend – No School
East Coast Trip Hot Lunch Program Update
Now that the decision has been made that we will be at home for the remainder of the year, the East Coast Trip fundraising committee is reaching out to you all in regards to the East Coast Trip Hot Lunch Program on Mondays and Fridays. We appreciate any donations towards this rich learning experience that our 7th and 8th grade students attend every other year. If you would like to donate the balance of your money spent on hot lunch, we appreciate it very much! If you would like a tax deductible receipt for that donation, please reach out to fundraising volunteer treasurer Sonjia Barker at email@example.com. If alternatively you would like a refund on the money you spent towards hot lunch after mid-March, the fundraising group can issue that as well; please reach out to Sonjia by May 5, 2020, and she can compute your refund and mail a check. Thank you for supporting the East Coast Trip Hot Lunch Program. Stay safe and healthy and see you all soon.
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Registration and Tuition Contracts for Fall 2020
If you have not registered for Fall 2020, now is the time to do so. You may register your student(s) through the K12Online Portal using each student’s i.d. and access key (contact the office if you need this information). Tuition contracts will be sent out at the end of April to those families that have registered, including financial assistance letters. Please make sure to apply for assistance no later than the end of April.
We realize that this is a tough time financially and emotionally for families. Your family’s well-being and continued involvement in the Hope School community is important to us, so please reach out with any questions or concerns to Admissions Director, Sally Heit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Financial Aid Information for 2020-21 Academic Year – Deadline April 30
We partner with School and Student Services (SSS) for our financial aid process each year. Instructions for applying for financial aid at Hope Lutheran School are available by visiting sss.nais.org/parents. Our school’s SSS code is 179833. The final deadline to apply for aid is April 30, 2020.
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