Uncovering Your Impact This School YearDec 15, 2021
Whatever role you serve in education, whether you are a teacher, administrator, office staff, learning coach, librarian, PTO member, or anything else that impacts kids, I hope you know how truly meaningful your work is. In another year marred by disruption and division, you are still providing students with stability, learning, love, and grace.
What could possibly be more important than that?
For so many, this year has felt impossibly difficult. From teacher and sub shortages to heightened student behavioral issues, work in schools has been hard. Hopefully- prayerfully- the load will lighten. But I encourage you take some time in the next week to reflect on successes that you’ve seen this year.
My daughter, Piper, came down with Covid after her first week of kindergarten. Like so many other students, this was a massive disruption for her. All of the excitement she had for starting her first year of school was drained in an instant. After over two weeks at home, she returned to school not knowing any of her classmates. For the next month, she begged me to stay home every day when I’d say goodbye at the bus stop. She’d be oddly quiet when she came home at the end of the day, and when I asked her who she played with at school, it was always the same answer: “No one.”
At conferences, her teacher told us that the spark she’d seen from Piper in the first week seemed to be out at school, and that Piper spent most of the day feeling sad and lonely.
As a daddy, this absolutely broke my heart.
I know how crucial kindergarten is for setting the tone for a child's academic career, and the fact that this pandemic was affecting that for my little girl was heartbreaking. But beyond that, I hated to see her hurting.
But her teacher told us she was going to try to help Piper make friends and feel more comfortable in school. The next day, Piper came home from school excited to tell us she was in a reading group with a new friend and told us all about how her friend likes the same things she does. The day after that, she couldn’t wait to tell us about her time at recess with another friend. A month later, Piper is like a different person when she goes to school and comes home. She now loves the place and feels welcome and safe there.
And I know that there was a teacher, who on top of teaching reading, writing, and numbers to kindergartners, was quietly working behind the scenes to make my little girl feel loved.
My daughter is one of 25 other kids in that classroom who are being invested in at such a crucial time of life. Invested in by educators who are also living through a pandemic and all of the struggles that go with it. And yet this pandemic has not stopped that impactful work that they do.
It’s too easy to miss these types of successes when you are exhausted and filled with anxiety. But you need to know that they are happening. Kids are still learning to read. Your students are learning to solve problems. They’re learning the complexities of math, the nuances of history, the wonder of science, and the art of the written word. They are learning socialization and how to deal with conflict. Students are developing skills they will use the rest of their lives.
School is still impactful; your work is still impactful.
So I hope as you get a break from your work soon that you can reflect on this impact. Uncover the stories from the last few months that form “your why,” and allow them to help recharge you as you rest.
Educator friends, thank you for continuing to show up and serving kids like Piper. As a parent, I am filled with nothing but gratitude and awe of your work.
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