As I began my 29th year as an educator this school year, I actually felt like I had been catapulted back to 1992 and my first year as a classroom teacher at the St. Nicholas School in Chattanooga, Tenn. I began my teaching career as a Kindergarten math teacher and Third through Fifth Grade art history teacher. The week before school began in 1992, I remember myriad thoughts rolling through my mind. Some of the thoughts included:
How do I set up my classroom?
Will everything I learned in undergraduate school really work when I teach my first lesson?
How will I build community with the students in my classroom?
Will the students listen to me when I outline the expectations and daily procedures within the classroom?
Will I be a successful educator?
Just a few weeks ago, some of these same types of questions permeated my thinking, as I prepared for the beginning of the Colorado Academy school year in the midst of a pandemic. After I accepted that school might look different in many ways, as we wear masks to school and practice social distancing, I began to think about the essential parts of the Lower School experience that will continue with or without a pandemic.
Working to find the answers
At the Lower School, we embrace the principles of courage and kindness in how we interact with others in our daily words and actions. We are mindful of ourselves and others to create a healthy and engaged community. Our teachers explore and develop strategies to teach in a hybrid model classroom to include small groups of students learning simultaneously at school and from home. Teachers inherently love the beginning of the school year as they welcome their new class, develop relationships, and create a classroom ambiance. Creating community and connectivity will be at the heart of the teachers’ work as they begin the school year with their students.
So as we begin the 2020-2021 school year, I may be asking the same questions I did as a novice teacher in 1992. But the Lower School team has worked hard this summer to find good answers. Even with the obstacles that COVID-19 presents for a school, the joy, care, and creativity continue to flow throughout the Lower School, as we welcome students each new day. The faculty, staff, and I look forward to creating a memorable and meaningful school year for each student.