I can’t remember a time when I’ve ever been prouder to be an educator.

This world has thrown all of us a giant curveball – and it’s the educators who are seemingly unphased. We ask a great deal of our teachers on a good day, including working for very little pay, with few resources and under enormous pressure to reach a diverse group of learners. We battle obstacles on a daily basis and take on the challenges with boundless energy, creativity and humor. Then, we go home, get up the next day, and do it all again. In a field that is grounded in relationships and respect for childhood and meeting individual needs, switching to an online forum definitely creates a host of new challenges. Do our teachers seem defeated? Not in the least.

As the principal of a small, private Catholic elementary school in Evanston, IL, I am privileged to have a front-row seat to these examples of humanity and excellence. At Pope John XXIII School, we had planned for a few e-learning days in the event of inclement weather or snow days, but we hadn’t predicted weeks on end of remote teaching and learning. Regardless, our staff, along with many others, have stepped up to the plate, ready to deliver the same level of rigorous instruction alongside a loving and thoughtful approach to kindness and realistic expectations.

Today, I observed a message of gratitude posted by our second grade teacher, on Class Dojo, an educational web platform used to share class news with parents and families. While walking her dog in the woods and looking for signs of nature to share with her students on the first day of spring, she paused to thank our parents for their partnership. Teachers must have parent and family support to provide the best education possible and our PJ23 parents are definitely ready to support us from home, just like always!

This afternoon, I marveled at a “live” snacktime and read aloud with our fifth graders. Students kept saying how much they missed their teachers and classmates and how good it is to see everyone. When they saw my name pop up in the google meet, they said, “Dr. C! You’re here?? Can we hear your voice?”

This evening, we had a virtual meeting with several faculty members to coach a few colleagues on the google meet app and how to use it with students. Besides being a comfort of professional support, we also benefited from laughter, sharing and socializing. Adults need connection, too! It felt good to laugh, and I was able to continue to express my gratitude for their professionalism, creativity and dedication to our students during this unprecedented time.

Across the country and the world, there are countless examples of kindness, compassion and connection as we weather this period of isolation. Teachers are sharing resources, tools, strategies and methodologies. Many of us use “Teachers Pay Teachers” or “Pinterest” and many educators receive payment for those posted curricular ideas. Not only are huge corporations donating their materials and web access freely to parents and educators, but teachers are doing the same for and with each other. That teamwork is essential and has always been the foundation of education.

Coming soon: What advice can teachers give parents to help support e-learning from home?

Author: Dr. Molly Cinnamon

The team at Erika’s Lighthouse knows how challenging and difficult this transition is on our teens, educators, parents and others. We are here to help and support our young people. We have launched an exciting new campaign that will provide meaningful, practical resources for teens, educators and parents.