Opinion: Proud of teachers making connections amid coronavirus
I have been a teacher in Stamford for 24 years, and I have never been as proud of my profession, my community, my colleagues, my students and their families as I am today.
On Thursday, March 12, when we got the news that students would be leaving school for an undetermined period of time, we took immediate action to ensure the smoothest transition possible. That meant grade-level teams, administrators, and counselors working together to see that each student would have access to the digital learning opportunities we would soon be providing.
Families were called, and students went home with Chromebooks, folders, notebooks, independent reading books, musical instruments, and more so that instruction could continue. That meant teachers and other staff members working together to prepare meaningful lessons for all students so that there would be some consistency in what would become a very uncertain time for all of us. Thus, while students remained home on that first Friday morning, Stamford’s schools were full of administrators, teachers, counselors, and paraeducators, who came together to troubleshoot, modify, adjust, and plan engaging learning activities that would meet educational standards and objectives, while also serving to provide academic stability and emotional support to our children and their families. Together, we prepared to launch into unchartered territory and to do it with the integrity, passion, and drive that makes Stamford Public Schools the quality district it is. And, with the support of a forward-thinking central office staff, a compassionate administration, supportive families, courageous students, and dedicated teachers, we have risen to this challenge.
As many of us have, I’ve had some time to be silent these past few weeks. And, I can’t help but to think of all the ways the members of our community have come together to provide more than the standards and objectives our children need in order to be successful, contributing members of society. I have seen daily emails from our superintendent, keeping us and Stamford families as informed as possible in the midst of this Global Health Crisis. I have been present in daily administrative meetings with a principal who reminds us of the importance of family — those of our students as well as our own. I have been in smaller meetings with administration and counselors, providing individual support to students who are feeling overwhelmed. I have seen my administrator leave school to first deliver a needed piece of technology to one of our students before going home to his own family. I have been in team meetings with my colleagues, discussing ways in which we would reach students who hadn’t “plugged” in yet.
For a few years now, we have been saying how we need to find a way to meet this new generation of students where they are. Today, we are actually meeting them where they are most comfortable — digitally. And, from where I “sit,” Stamford teachers are doing what we do best. We are connecting with kids. We are connecting with families. We are connecting with each other. We are making a difference.
So, perhaps what I really want to say is. I’m proud of all of us. I’m proud of my administration and the compassion those leaders meet us with on a daily basis. I’m proud of my colleagues and how we are working to ensure the best for every child and family. Most of all, I’m proud of our children, my students, who are working harder than ever before and doing so in ways that are unprecedented. I continue to be inspired by your courage and your vulnerability. You make me want to be a better teacher. And, I miss your faces!
Debra Wilson teaches at Turn of River Middle School in Stamford Public Schools