'Flexibility, grace and just breathe'

Opinion: Editorials

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Good advice for all of us living through this endless pandemic. Particularly good advice, though, for the teachers, students and parents inventing, bluffing and good-willing their way through this season of remote learning in the District 91 elementary schools.

The advice comes from Tinisa Huff, the first year principal at Betsy Ross School, to her staff as it works hard to connect the kids, their parents and the Betsy community.

Last week the Review's Maria Maxham sat on the school's rooftop deck with Huff and first grade teachers Amy O'Connell, Peggy Perry, Michelle Choice and Amanda Skinner to share their progress.

None of them, we'd say, will be cheering for permanent remote learning. But each of them have stories to tell of things going right, of unanticipated upsides, of tweaks and turns to Zoom that bring fun and connection.

Here are a few:

  • All the teachers say that parents have offered exceptional support despite all the stress of working and supporting their kids.
  • Students, and these are first graders, have taken ownership of their responsibility to turn up on Zoom at multiple specified times of each school day.
  • Staff at the community center and the park district are doing good work supporting and focusing students where parents have had to return to work outside home.
  • It is hard but a necessary goal to keep a focus on special needs students and also students who need more advanced help.
  • Emotional connections are building both among students and between students and teachers. It's not the same as sharing a classroom but the connection is real, they tell us.
  • And a Friday Zoom Dance Party is always a good way to close out the week.

These are some days. And they'll grind us down. But they can also lift us up.

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