My Reflections

EDUCATION: Culture Matters When Going Remote


Just some of how our school staff was welcomed back to school two weeks ago.

Last spring, schools across the nation went remote. Not enough time to prepare. Everyone in shock from the pandemic.

What helped my school? Our culture. The environment that had been established way before life changed.

When life has ups and downs, the culture helps people to rise or fall.

Nothing was as good as it should have been. Not enough was known about much of anything, and I’m not just talking about education. A crisis of massive proportions arose across the globe, and we functioned as best we could.

Our principals and leadership met with groups of staff each week, so we stayed connected, made decisions and processed together and cared about one another. Culture.

Teachers taught, but we spent a lot of time having conversations with our students through video meetings, emails and phone calls. Culture.

Whether students or staff, we knew we could rely on one another. We knew to supply grace to each other. We knew we were a community and the culture helped us feel like not all was lost.

What said even more were families and students sending staff emails. They encouraged us. They asked if we were okay. They shared what we meant to them.

They supplied light back, because of the light we provided in darker times. A culture like that creates a safe place to function, no matter what.

Now, in a matter of days, our students will start the new school year. It most definitely will not be what it used to be, except for our culture.

Knowing that the cornerstone of our school is a community of learning while also teaching to the whole child, every child, we’ve been learning. Through the summer. Through extra professional development. Through our own feelings of what if what we’ve always known to do and what we’ve learned isn’t enough. Because our culture means we go above and beyond, always, because our students and their families matter. Details matter.

The pandemic hasn’t gone away. It’s why we changed from students either being remote or hybrid to all going remote to start. Culture we can still maintain, but without safety, it’s hard to learn and grow.

A school cannot have a culture that could take us through a pandemic time, without the right leadership. Principals who have led us with grace, understanding, realness and wisdom, even as they’ve made changes and admitted some of their own struggles through this process.

They’ve given us leadership roles to not only delegate, but to show their faith in us, even now.

They’ve given us time and shifted their original plans, so we could grow, but not break.

They had us make videos of ourselves so this year’s students and families can see us, hear us, and know how much we can’t wait to teach and to also support them all.

Even more powerful than all of that was having us email and call the families of those students who we will be with at the start of each day. We let them know what to expect so they’re not feeling nervous for the first day and beyond, for the students and their parents. To answer questions. But most of all, to help let out a breath, knowing we care enough to call and be there for them even before we have met their children. Culture.

On my end, I adored talking to students who were excited to hear from me. I realized how much I missed hearing the awkwardness of being the age of middle school kids. I soared when parents shared how happy they were to receive my call, how much better they felt and how supported they felt. But, what made my teacher heart fill to completion was getting emails from several of my new students asking me questions they had and then thanking me for my help.

CULTURE! We haven’t even started our first day together, but our culture’s base has already been laid down.

Our school’s vision is to engage, empower and excite our students to grow and learn. Without a building, through emails, calls and soon via video conferencing and other online tools, they will thrive. They will learn. They will feel supported.

And we will be their school community, doing what we know is best for them. Content, we already knew. Learning new ways to engage, empower and excite our 2020-2021 students is simply a part of being educators. What more we may need to move forward? Well, we will grow together, stronger and our culture will be even better than it’s ever been, no matter what life throws our way.

One of the parts of my classroom that helps me establish our culture reminds my students that they while they are capable of much now, beyond this time and space, they should keep on dreaming and growing.

Dedicated to Blake Revelle, Tara Mahoney and our Amazing Knights Community. Love working with all of you!

My Reflections

THE BONDS THAT DON’T BREAK: Romans 8:31-39


My Daughter's Mother's Day Gift to Me
Mother & Daughter Forever: My daughter’s Mother’s Day gift to me

I can think of very few bonds that are as strong as that between a child and her parents.  There is very little I wouldn’t do for my daughter, whether getting matching mother/daughter tattoos as we did this Mother’s Day, as her gift to me this year, or unhesitatingly dying for her, which I would do in a heartbeat.

While those may be two extremes situations, one thing I know, without question.  My love for her is boundless.  We are connected forever.

Even stronger than the bonds that tie my beautiful daughter to me, are the bonds that don’t break between our Heavenly Father and His children.  He is very much connected to us.

I know that not all of you may have experienced this sort of parental love, this sort of connection, this sort of bond. However, I know as clearly as I know how I feel about my daughter that my God loves His children without any hesitation, without any wavering, no matter who we are or what we do.

As Romans 8:31-39 reminds us, “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,  neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I don’t know about you, but I take comfort knowing that absolutely nothing separates us from our Heavenly Father’s love.  That’s a true bond, one that cannot be broken.  God will eternally love us, ALWAYS!

Do you feel like you’re not good enough for God?  Do you feel like you have messed up so much that God would never consider loving you?  Do you think that God might care about others, but there’s nothing to love about you?

Those are common thoughts or feelings, but God isn’t like that. Just as a loving parent would never dream of turning her back on her child, there is nothing we can do to make God love us or to make Him not love us.  He just loves us, because He is love and He knows no other way to feel towards His creation, His children.

As 1 John 4:7-12 reminds us, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”

One thing I want my daughter to always know, no matter what happens, is that my love for her will never waver.  It only strengthens with time.  Nothing can ever happen that would break the bond between us, because I wouldn’t let it happen.  I could never let that happen.

God speaks that over us, as well.  How, you may ask?  The Bible is a love letter to us, from start to finish.  It tells us, over and over again how much He loves us.  How desperately He wants to stay connected to us.

Having a hard time believing it?  I would love to chat with you.  Feel free to send me a message.

Want to rediscover that bond with Him? He has been by your side all along.  Just talk with Him.  You’ll quickly discover that the bond still remains.

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