Back to the Front Lines with Love, Hope and JoyAugust 17, 2020
Back to school has an entirely different feel for all of us this year. The world has completely shifted since we were last in our classrooms teaching our children. So much has happened. We continue to live in a global pandemic, but August is here. After months of closed school buildings, some will attempt to open safely in the coming weeks, while others will continue with a virtual platform. While we struggle with the best answer for our children and their education right now, we can certainly agree that our students have never needed us more. It is time to return to the front line and gear up for a school year that will be like no other. Even with all the anxiety and fear that is looming around us, I am determined to approach it with all the love, hope, and joy I know our children deserve. “It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.”
As a teacher, I have been going “back to school” for 34 years. It is my favorite time! There is so much anticipation and excitement wrapped up in a new school year. There are many uncertainties in how we will approach learning, but we know the children are coming back. We will have new classroom families, and they will become a part of our hearts forever. Whether virtual or in-person, they will be looking to us and counting on us for reassurance in this chaotic and sometimes scary world. Even with so much anxiety inside our hearts, we can choose to be the light and share hope in this dark time. We know that relationships are the key to all learning, and the foundation of those relationships is love. We will have to be extra intentional about making those connections with our children and families this year, and it is going to look different in a time of social distancing. We will have to be more creative than ever in our approach, but if we focus on our students, and not on the fear and chaos around us, we can accomplish anything. Relationships with families will also be essential. Again, we can choose to be the light and extend grace, love, and patience as we navigate this school year.
The love we have for our students is rooted in our hope for their future. Each year, we stand on the front lines of the future of this nation and our world. We see that future, and we have a hand in molding it and shaping it. I believe with all my heart that there is no calling in life more important than teaching. COVID-19 has not changed that; it has just elevated our purpose and position in society. Our profession is in the spotlight. What will we do with this moment? How can we make the most significant impact? I know for sure that no matter how difficult things are right now, there is still so much beauty in this world. I am going to keep looking for the good, and I think I might just borrow a little wisdom from some of my favorite Disney movies.
“When the raindrops come tumbling, remember you are the one that can fill the world with sunshine.” – Snow White
“Sometimes, you gotta get through your fears to see the beauty on the other side.” – The Good Dinosaur
“Venture outside your comfort zone. The rewards are worth it.” – Rapunzel
“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” – Mulan
“It will all turn out in the end. You’ll see.” – Beauty and the Beast
I know living and teaching through a pandemic is far from a fairy tale, but we can always choose to look for the magic in every situation. Instead of giving in to fear, I choose joy! I cannot wait to be back in the middle of all the joyful energy that naturally surrounds children. I need that. Many of them have been waiting to see our smiles for months! With masks on our faces, they will be looking for those smiles in our eyes, and I plan to make sure they see it clearly. Some of them will be returning to the safest place they have in this life: our classrooms. We may never know the horrors that some of them may have survived these past few months, but we must create spaces for them, both in-person and virtual, where they feel valued, seen, and heard. It is time to get back to the front lines and face down this challenge. Our children need us, our country needs us, and I am ready to step up with love, hope, and joy! We can do this! We were born to do this! We are teachers!
Amy Braswell teaches fourth grade at Don R. Roberts Elementary School in Little Rock. This article was originally published on the Insight ADVANCE blog and is shared here with permission.
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