In February 2020, right before the beginning of the pandemic my grade one students performed several acts of kindness throughout the school. One of these acts was writing and distributing positive messages to the middle school students. I still remember my little grade ones waiting in anticipation for the middle school students to arrive. They were feeling very nervous to interact with these big people which they didn’t know at all. However, once the first brave student extended their hand and gave out a kindness note, the rest followed suit. I could see the impact of this simple act in the way their eyes lit up, their smiles were big and their hearts were happy. However, I never really took time to reflect on what this experience meant for the middle school students. Less than two weeks later, the pandemic hit and school was closed. More than two years later, we are finally getting back to being in person and reestablishing all of the connections that have been lost.
These past two years have shaped us all in ways that we may not fully understand. The pandemic has literally tilted education on its head, and we all feel kind of dizzy in the process. Now that we are moving forward, there are so many questions I have. What is really important for me to focus on as an educator? What competencies do I think will best prepare my students for the future? How do we grow from all that has been learned and lost? These questions can sometimes be overwhelming, but also drive me forward constantly in trying to reexamine and grow as an educator.
This past October, my school had a full faculty PD where all teachers met together to discuss some of these big questions. The PD was held in the middle school, which I haven’t set foot in since February 2020. On the way to the washroom during our break, I saw something that made my heart stop. It was one of the kindness messages my grade one students had given out almost 3 years earlier taped to the bathroom wall. One of the middle school students must have put it there and it has stayed up ever since.
That moment brought me back to the heart of everything. Maybe we don’t need all of the answers. Maybe we don’t need to have everything planned out for the future. Maybe we just need to take the time to see our students, build connections and encourage each other on this crazy journey of life. Maybe we just need to take a moment, extend a hand and share some kindness. You never know how much of an impact it will have.
The craziest part to me is how this act of kindness has come full circle. Initially these messages were meant for the students, but now I am the one who needed to hear these words the most. “You can totally do this!” No, I don’t know exactly where I’m going or what I’m doing, but as long as I keep this message at my heart’s core…. I know I’m on the right path.
Thank you Cohort 21 and the amazing face to face session today for inspiring me to take this moment to reflect. I am so excited for this journey we are beginning together.