Teachers are BACK! This morning I had the opportunity to share a bit about myself and my educational philosophy with teachers on their first day back from summer break. I gathered with some of the staff from Olathe Middle/High School and also engaged virtually with all other teachers, leaders and support staff throughout the district via Zoom.
If this pandemic has confirmed anything for us, it is that meaningful connections and relationships are a critical component of children’s academic and social development. We also know it is a fundamental part of the public education system. I mean, if it were so easy to learn anything online without support, we would all know how to speak Spanish from Rosetta Stone, we would all have a second business selling products on Amazon and we would all be experts in medical transcription (these all seem to advertise a lot! :))
Today I shared with the staff that my vision for Montrose County School District is that together we will stop at nothing to promote powerful and meaningful connections with kids and create a contagious spark for learning for both students and staff. As we welcome our students back after not really seeing them for 6 months, we know that we must start by intentionally creating meaningful connections so that we can begin forming powerful relationships. We must be focused on tuning in to our students social and emotional health before we can focus on their academic needs. We need to prepare them for the year ahead and be ready to be flexible, agile, calm and thoughtful. Every student needs to know that they have a teacher that they can turn to and one that they know likes them for who they are. Rita Pierson said it best, “Kids don’t learn from teachers they don’t like.”
Upon returning, our teachers will need to spend some time intentionally focusing on relationships. Some of our students will be quite nervous as they return to us. Some will wonder if they will make friends. Some are going to be self-conscious for wearing a mask. Whatever the case, each child needs to know that they are understood. Social distancing doesn’t mean anti-social and wearing a mask should not prevent communication. Our teachers are ready. They were born to make a difference in the life of a child. Today I challenged each staff member to “Be a Mr. Jensen” for every child. Take a look at this video and you will see what I mean. It is great inspiration!