Navigating the rapid changes for schools in the last few weeks has been a tremendous job for administrators and teachers. While some of our schools had participated in e-learning in the past, not all had experience with delivering instruction in this way. Extended remote learning is also very different from a few days of e-learning. Students not only need academic instruction, but they have new needs for social connection and encouragement. Administrators and teachers have made decisions not only about how to deliver instruction, but more importantly, how to make connections with students and families, and minister in new ways.
What sets our schools apart during this time? It’s all about Jesus. While innovative and fun ways to educate our students remotely have been plentiful in our schools, much of the impact they are making is through ministering to students and families in meaningful ways. Daily devotions and chapel are being provided through emails and on social media. Led by principals, teachers, and pastors, these devotions connect our students to Jesus and God’s Word, and provide encouragement to those who are anxious, fearful, and lonely.
Because social distancing can feel isolating, our schools are finding new ways to connect to students and their families. Many teachers are calling their students at home. Many classes are meeting virtually through Google Hangouts, Zoom, Facetime, and other online meeting platforms. Being able to hear the voice of their teacher or see the faces of their classmates is joining God’s people together and providing encouragement to students and teachers. Teachers are using these tools as a means to check in with their students and their families, letting them know that they are cared for and missed. Administrators are using the same tools to meet with their faculties to check in and have discussions. Classes are sharing prayer requests, singing together, and laughing together-good medicine, for sure!
The Lutheran Schools Partnership is using Zoom to meet as a staff and to gather area principals for weekly meetings. These touchpoints with principals allow us to share ideas, discuss challenges, and pray together. This week, principals were joined in our Zoom meeting by the staff of Cross Connections Counseling, who offered words of wisdom for supporting students, families, and staff during these challenging days. We are tremendously blessed to have these opportunities for face to face connections and support.
The amount of time and work that our educators are putting into caring for the whole child is commendable, for sure. While they care for their own families and needs, they are also learning how to use new tools, planning for quality instruction, and considering ways they can help students and families in need. God has provided us with great servants in our schools, who deserve our thanks and respect. May we have opportunities to show that to them and encourage them in their work!