A Teacher's Letter to Her Class As the Pandemic School Year Ends: 31 Things She Hopes They (and We) Remember by Donna Mansell

A Teacher's Letter to Her Class As the Pandemic School Year Ends: 31 Things She Hopes They (and We) Remember

Whew! What a ride!

I have been looking forward to, worrying about and dreading this week. It is always hard to let my students fly at the end of the year. We become a family, and once mine, they remain in my heart forever. This year is no different in that. These children will hold a special place in my heart and memory. Their siblings, their pets, their support people, their blanket forts, their pajamas, their car trips, their jokes and their smiles. Thank you for sharing them with me.

This year has been one for the history books. When they grow up and have their own kids, they will tell them about this year. I hope that in the story they include how...

  1. Families got extra time with each other.
  2. Their communities rallied to fight injustice, and how much work there is yet to be done.
  3. Small things became both large and yet inconsequential.
  4. Local leaders and community members worked together to make sure that every child had access to food.
  5. Painful it was not to be able to hug our loved ones for so long and how sweet those hugs became once we could finally do it again.
  6. In the quiet and boredom, they found new ways to be creative and new ways to connect with other.
  7. Our communities learned whose jobs are truly essential.
  8. Walks around their neighborhood became events to look forward to.
  9. Doing small things for the greater good really made a difference.
  10. Mental health finally became as important as physical health.
  11. We got to know and rely on our neighbors.
  12. Their parents suddenly joined their educational team in ways they never expected.
  13. Their teachers learned new ways to teach and reach, spending countless hours trying to make the learning time engaging, fun and productive.
  14. They became digital citizens overnight and learned the rights and responsibilities of this new world.
  15. Doing things together apart became the norm, and how that felt both amazing and scary.
  16. So many people went out of their way to be good to each other.
  17. So many did things great and small simply because they were the right things to do, and even more so when those things were hard or uncomfortable.
  18. So many people looked forward to getting shots.
  19. Artists did their thing in their space and shared their work with the world like never before.
  20. Creatives and non-creatives alike learned and perfected mask making from old shirts and nylons.
  21. Animals were animals and we got to enjoy them, even from afar.
  22. Businesses flipped on a dime and filled needs in ways that didn't resemble their previous business models.
  23. Puzzlesboard games and cards became important pastimes.
  24. Birthdaysgraduations and other celebrations remained important milestones through drive-throughs and socially distant gatherings (and how we probably won't continue blowing out birthday candles!).
  25. Crime, CO2 levels, traffic, litter and vehicle accidents were significantly reduced for a time.
  26. We were reminded of what is and what is not important.
  27. We all got better at technology.
  28. We celebrated good health when we could, and mourned those without it.
  29. We learned the value of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, sourdough starter and homemade anything.
  30. Nature rebounded when we reduced our impact on it.
  31. Those we love and those who love us are our bottom line. Always.

This week we will celebrate all we have learned and what we have accomplished this year. We will celebrate their wins, both large and small.

In peace, health and harmony.

Your Teacher,
Donna Mansell

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This is beautiful. 🙏🏼💗
Elisa Schmitz, 30Seconds
What a powerful reflection, Donna Mansell . I am so grateful to you and all teachers during the past year and a half. Teachers are the real MVPs, even without a pandemic. Your extra effort did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Thank you for sharing this lovely perspective with us. And thank you for all you do for our students, families and communities!
We lost so much. Yet we gained so much. Let’s hope we take the lessons with us as we move into a new normal.
I look at my son's school in the South Bronx and the huge challenges those families faced and continue to face. Health, hunger, homes. We need to remember that many, many folks who were homeless or near homeless may never pull out of the hole that COVID created.

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