Reflections on Teaching and Learning during COVID-19
Posted by Peggy Procter on 11/19/2020
“In loss, we need to show up” - Lucy Calkins
As you know, Echo Horizon School is committed to the Writer’s Workshop Program, founded by groundbreaking educator, Lucy Calkins. We have sent many teachers and curricular leaders to the annual training at Columbia University to learn directly from Lucy Calkins. Her wisdom, intellect, and commitment to the power of student voice inspire our community.
This year, Lucy Calkins held her closing address for the Writer’s Workshop graduates for the first time ever on Zoom, rather than in the hallowed halls of Columbia Teachers College. Her words, as always, resonated with me—but maybe they resonated more than usual as I continue to grapple with the new world of online and hybrid school. “In loss, we need to show up,” she said. Seven short words that inspired me to reflect deeply on this fall semester and the incredible work of our Echo Horizon faculty and staff.
Each and every day, we have done just that—SHOWN UP with full hearts and minds for our Echo Horizon scholars. Each morning, our faculty hop on Zoom and greet every child warmly by name, welcoming them into their grade-level community. In morning meetings, teachers check in with every child, listening deeply to their stories of how things are going. They prepare dynamic live activities and engaging lessons to ensure that our students are progressing academically. They painstakingly create asynchronous lessons so students can practice new skills on their own time and with their parents later. They hold drop-in study hours for kids who have questions, or who just need to build their confidence in the presence of a caring adult. They hold weekly one-on-ones to discuss classwork, or sometimes just to hang out and get a tour of a student’s bedroom study and their favorite toy or stuffie. It may seem hard to believe, but I am confident that the relationships built between our faculty and scholars remain as strong and as powerful as they have ever been.
And talk about showing up? Let’s think about all the extra time, creativity, and energy, our staff and administrators have put into ensuring our community remains as connected as ever. Our weekly recesses filled with fun, games, and conversation have been a big hit with our students. I loved playing “Guess the Wonders of the World” and pictionary and charades with our first, second, and third graders. Mr. Alvarado, Ms. Willens, Ms. Baltazar, and Ms. Blount amaze me with their creative recesses, filled with ridiculous games, dance parties, and support for student activism. And, honestly, what other schools have held Bingo Nights, Scavenger Hunts, All School Fun Day, car parades, and Community Celebrations like Echo Horizon has? I challenge you to find any school with as much spirit, enthusiasm, and commitment to our students’ social and emotional wellbeing as Echo Horizon. Oh, how about HALLOWEEN?!!!! The Best Ever!
Our faculty, staff, and parents association has given all of this care and love during one of the most stressful times of our adult lives. We are all carrying a heavy load of fear, stress, and pain, and have been for many many months. We are juggling complex lives of our own. We are mourning the loss of so much—freedom, friendship and connection, and at times, even loved ones—yet that does not get in the way of our deep commitment to educating children, who deserve not to be left behind during this traumatic time. There is nothing that will get in the way of giving our all to the beautiful children of Echo Horizon.
As we enter this period of Thanksgiving, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the ways that our faculty, staff, and parents, against all odds, have shown up for the children. They are our reason for being and when we give to them, they give back to us exponentially. I am so grateful for this virtuous cycle of love and gratitude that defines the Echo Horizon community.
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