Are We a Village?
By Janis Effner, Former Educator and Professional Services Director at McGraw Hill
Educators work together for the common good. Seeing the needs of students day after day, they understand they must come together to help students survive and thrive. Educators have felt this. We have lived it.
Educators have always done more than asked, but now doing more is a must in to order provide the best for our students. We have districts with no bus service and limited school staff. There are classes without teachers and everyone is overworked.
Despite these obstacles, students need us to make our current circumstances work, and work well. What good reason can we give a student for less than our best? Is there a circumstance that allows for mediocre school years? How can we close gaps and accelerate learning?
It is going to take ALL of us working together to make the impossible happen.
There is nothing more important than ensuring learning for all students while at school. It doesn’t matter if a student is behind, on-level, or ahead — they need to be learning and growing daily. Every student matters.
How can educators make this happen with all the challenges that face us? They can value the strengths of those in their school community and let each person use their gifts to build up students and their growth this year.
What do you have to offer your campus?
Can you put together a math club to help students increase their skills? Are you an early bird who is awake enough to offer morning tutoring to students who are dropped off early by working parents? Can you drive a bus? Can you help mentor new teachers? Could you oversee hospitality and make sure all school staff feels appreciated?
You have a specific gift you can use this year to help students. More than likely you are already giving your all, but is there something you can do, for thirty minutes a few times a week that could change the lives of students on your campus? To have a successful semester it will take everyone working together and putting students first.
Success this year will take a village that has a common focus on student learning and growth. Be that campus.
Honor Each Other
Honoring each other every single day is a must to be a functioning, blossoming community. Deciding you will only get along with those who think and act like you is unrealistic and it devalues the idea of a village. Who put out the idea that we must all be the same? Let’s honor our differences and focus on students.
I have three children and they are each so incredibly different. I love and adore them but I can honestly say they have all said and done things that have made me literally have to walk away and calm down before I speak. Ever been there? “I love my children. I want my children in my life. I must be nice to my children,” I quietly repeat to myself before approaching them with something constructive to say. Why do I work so hard to communicate and honor our differences? Because I love them and therefore, I choose to understand and accept. This can be so hard. Especially when my words of wisdom aren’t received as such. But I choose to honor our differences for the benefit of our family.
Are you honoring the differences in your school family? You are a family. Think of those you see every day, in the best and worst of times, those who you must walk away from for a little while and maybe don’t see your brilliance quite like you do. What can you do to honor the people in your school community? Is there one small step you can make for the benefit of your students? Honor those in your village. It’s all for our students. Be that campus.
Go and Learn
A village is a self-contained district or community of people that have specific characteristics of their village life. You are part of a village that is special and different from other communities around you. Celebrate what makes you unique and then go. Although it is nice to be in the comfort of your community, I encourage you to branch out and meet people from different communities this year.
When is the last time you went out to other schools and learned from those who are unlike you?
We have so much to learn from each other. Take time this year to meet with administrators, teachers, and students from other districts. Make getting together a part of your school plans. Include students in this experience. Can you have students from another district Zoom into your debate class and join in your discussions? How can students share learning with those outside of their community? Is it possible to meet teachers from other districts to discuss teaching ideas and thoughts?
There is value in gathering together. You will learn skills and ways of thinking that will benefit you and your students. There’s no stronger way to make your students feel part of a community than going out together to meet with others. Don’t be an isolated village, reach out and learn from others. Be that campus.
Be a We
Teachers, you need each other. This year as you work to enrich the lives of those around you don’t do it alone. Lean on each other. Talk and laugh and cry. Do whatever it takes to make it through the tough days. Make sure you don’t isolate yourself from your school community. It’s not about you alone. Be an active part of your village, be a ‘we’. Together we can.
Janis Effner is the professional services director at McGraw Hill. She was a Secondary classroom teacher and reading specialist for over 10 years. Janis is a powerful media and communication professional with a Principal Certification focused on Secondary School Administration/Principalship from Schreiner University. She lives in the beautiful state of Alaska.