Education in the 21st century has taken on a new look for some, especially now that we are implementing distance learning. Within a matter of days, educators demonstrated the importance of the 4 Cs for 21st century education: Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, Creator / Innovator (NEA, A Guide to 4 Cs). Educators, apart from their teaching teams, staff, and students, have found new, innovative ways to create a learning space, communicate with their learners, and develop new collaborations with educators and online learning platforms. There are still two Cs missing from this list. This week, I’ll focus on the 5th C.
Over the weeks, I’ve heard:
- Teachers miss their students
- Students miss their friends and teachers
- Staff miss one another
- Parents miss school
- We miss each other
The 5th C is community. Speak with any educator about what their main focus is at the beginning of the school year (and throughout), and they will tell you they work on cultivating a strong sense of community. Mayva Donnon, a Principal Architect at KSS Architects shared, “What students remember more than the classroom is the community.” And here we are, unable to enter a classroom. I’ve heard multiple families say, “The hardest part is that we are missing our people.” This is hard. This is unchartered territory. We long to be with people in community. There’s so much we miss when we cannot gather together. For me, I miss their:
- Joy that’s revealed in a smile at drop off in the morning.
- Eagerness to share with one another their special snacks in their lunch.
- Anticipation to gather together and tell stories of what their personal highlights were from the evening or weekend.
- Compassion to pray for each other and continue checking up on past prayer requests.
- Passions that spark joy in their learning to understand.
- Tenacity when facing difficult challenges.
- Excitement when witnessing a “light bulb” moment.
- Unique personalities that make up this community of learners.
- Laughter that erupts from sharing jokes and silly stories.
- Problem-solving capabilities in life and in academics.
- Forgiveness that is given quickly to one another.
- Insights and wisdom.
- Faith and trust in God that inspires me to have “faith like a child.”
Hebrews 10:24-25a reads, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together.” Let’s remember the significance of community. Sure, meeting together looks different right now. And yes, the mute button can be tricky at times for students. If are taking time to do check-ins with a student or small group, read aloud to the class, encourage students to share highlights from their days, provide show and tell times, and are not giving up meeting together – thank you. If you are making copies and dropping off learning packets at homes – thank you. If you are sending snail mail to keep in touch with families and students – thank you. Those moments matter. You are giving them a touch point. You are making a difference. You are giving them a sense of community while apart. You are reminding them that you care. Because, even though we are apart, those times “together” matter to us all.
How are you finding ways during this time to develop a strong sense of community with your classroom and/or staff?