I am incredibly lucky to work with several different amazing teams: at Hostos Lincoln Academy, at Hostos Community College, and at the Early College Initiative. The message below comes from Michael Steele, 6-12 Program Manager – Leadership Development and Instructional Support with ECI. He is a life long educator and an incredible asset to the schools he works with – Hostos Lincoln Academy is lucky to be one of them. He sent this to the teachers in our network this morning, and I want to share it here for the teachers in my other networks. Thank you. Thank you for your commitment to our students, to our children, to our families. We appreciate you.
It is Week Seven of home instruction. I’m pretty sure everyone is feeling the, “How much longer do I have to do this,” blues. The sun is starting to come out and the temperatures are rising. Kids are sitting at their windows daydreaming and longing for the freedoms that were abruptly yanked from them. The grading policy was released by the Chancellor last week, and every kid has heard the message that they will pass, in one form or another. For our 11th and 12th graders, college finals and term-end projects are in full swing. And, as many of you know from sporadic communications, those of our students who were vulnerable before, are so much more now. The number of family members lost, jobs furloughed or terminated and worsening health and financial situations are piling up and weighing on everyone’s shoulders.
In addition to all of this, it’s Week Seven for you, too. Everything, and more, that was mentioned for our students probably goes for you, your kids and your families.
So, I encourage you to take more breaks. Breathe more with the kids. Rethink your approach to May, just a bit. There are no Regents to be accountable to. Is there a topic in your course that you’ve always wished you could explore more deeply? Now’s the time to do it. What was that one thing, early on, that drew you to your subject area? Maybe there’s a project or series of lessons to introduce this idea to the students.
On a warm sunny day, if you can, bring your laptop outside and hold class. Inject more laughter into the day. It is important to show the power of laughter in creating community and allowing people to just be silly for a few minutes each day.
Finally, please try and get the kids to keep their cameras on, even if just for a few minutes each day. We are all mandated reporters, and we all care deeply about our students. When in the building, we know our kids so well, that the slightest change in appearance, a glance in a different direction or a change in the cadence of their walk, is something you pick up on immediately. We don’t have that anymore. Nuance does not come through in a chat thread. So, when you are able, get a look at their faces, glance at their surroundings, listen to the sounds of home, and just take notice.
Never hesitate to reach out. I know, a big part of my sanity during this time comes from you. Thank you! I appreciate you!!!
-J. Michael Steele