April Word to Live By: Persevere
By Susan Jerrell, TOFT Founder
Teachers persevere in difficult times. There is no doubt these are difficult times. How appropriate then, that April’s Word of the Month is persevere. It certainly fits this time we are living in. When I chose this word, I was thinking about persevering to the end of school, but as you know, life and COVID-19 happened, and persevere has been taken to a whole level.
Perseverance means to “continue in a course of action, even in the face of difficulty” (Oxford Dictionary) and to “maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly.” (dictionary.com)
For this month I am not going to talk about how you can persevere because you are already doing it. You are showing the very definition of this word daily. It is inspiring to watch the dedication and perseverance of teachers, staff, and educational leaders. You have shown that when faced with difficulties and obstacles you will rise to the occasion.
Teacher dedication shows their perseverance
You persevere in your dedication to your students, even from a distance. The creative ways teachers have reached out to students are awesome. Neighborhood drive by teacher parades to wave and honk at students, FaceTime calls to parents and students, virtual birthday parties, bear hunts, food deliveries, emails and snail mail are just some of the ways teachers have stayed in touch and inspired their students.
You show your perseverance through your lesson planning. A majority of you have never taught online, but you have risen to the occasion by learning new skills. From live chats, webinars, and recorded video, teachers are continuing to teach their students. You are adapting lesson plans for students who do not have internet access, so in effect you are creating double the number of lessons as well as supporting both students and parents as they navigate learning from home.
In addition to teaching from home, you are also caring for your own families. You take care of little ones, help your own children with school work, adjust to being home 24/7, and deal with your own fears. It has always taken flexibility and perseverance to teach, but the Coronavirus has taken that to a whole new level.
Teachers persevere through closures
As states begin to announce closures for the rest of the year, including my home state of Indiana, teachers face a new reality. Non-teachers often think that means teachers are not teaching. They do not understand that teachers never quit being teachers. You feel immense sadness and loss at learning you will not be returning to school. Quite simply, as a teacher, you love your students, your “kids”. The fact that you will not get to see your students again this year and did not get to have that final goodbye and closure makes your heart ache.
I also know that as a teacher dealing with your own sadness, your first thought is for your students. You are sad for the kindergartners who will not get to go through kindergarten graduation and the fifth graders who will not get to say goodbye to their elementary teachers. You are sad for the eighth graders who will miss out on their end of the year celebrations. Most of all you mourn for the seniors who are missing out on their last spring sports seasons, prom, senior dinners, award ceremonies and graduation.
I also know that as a teachers dealing with your own sadness, your first thought is for your students.
However, I have already read Facebook posts from teachers talking about what they can do for their students to make these last two months productive, fun, and memorable. They are planning ways to stay in touch and create interactive activities so students feel less alone and more connected to their classmates. Other teachers are talking about ways to hold a prom and graduation for their kids no matter how long they have to wait.
As I read about your sadness, I also read about your hope. Teachers, you will make the best of this situation as you always do. This doesn’t surprise me because teachers persevere in difficult times.