Pandemic Ponderings

Well, as I type this, we are STILL facing the COVID-19 global pandemic. I’ll be honest, I said to myself back in March when this all began that by June or July, this would be a thing of the past. Boy, was I wrong!

I’ve had the chance to read and reflect during this time, and it has allowed me the chance to slow down and truly be present in the moment. If there is one thing the past 6+ months has taught me, it’s the renewed importance of relationships, both in our personal and professional lives. Having to quarantine in isolation brought incredible challenges for me to find ways to maintain my sense of community while also maintaining my connections professionally as we navigated unprecedented times in schools.

To get through a time like this, it is even more critical that you prioritize the relationships in your personal and professional lives. When faced with a crisis such as a global pandemic, we need each other. At home, I needed to prioritize my relationships with family and friends and get creative with virtual gatherings to feel this sense of connection and community during a difficult time. My sorority sisters from college and I started weekly zoom calls on Wednesday nights to catch up on life, the challenges of navigating our careers and motherhood during this pandemic, and to just be present for an hour with each other. I can’t even begin to tell you how good this was for my soul. At work, I needed to find creative ways to connect with my colleagues virtually and support their goals and strategies with remote teaching. To do this, I started holding virtual “zoom and learns” help teachers with tools and strategies they needed to be successful. I also sent a google form to ask their feedback on what would be most helpful to them during this time. As a school, WE needed our sense of community even more as we navigated the most difficult of times to date as educators. One of my favorite activities in quarantine was our Friday afternoon virtual happy hour. We enjoyed a beverage of choice from the comforts of our home, and we shared funny stories from quarantine. It was so refreshing to feel like we still had our community, and I’m so grateful for our team!

Now that we’re back in school and physically on campus, the importance of relationships is still at the forefront. Our teachers started the school year with students they have never met before. They were now meeting them via Zoom. How do you build a solid relationship with someone you’ve never met and only ever see via Zoom? What about with someone you have only ever seen with a mask on while being sure to maintain your distance. I’ve seen teachers, students, staff, and administrators get creative like never before. Our student life office is even planning to hold a “drive-in” movie night in our parking lot so our students can safely gather and experience community outside of the classroom. At the end of the day academics are important, but we’ve realized that we are all humans and need this important connection to thrive during this pandemic. We must continue to provide opportunities for margin and self care so we are in a positive place to prioritize relationships and think creatively during this crazy time.

What are some ways you have maintained your sense of connection and community during quarantine? I would love to hear your ideas!

Published by Alex Bragg

Alex is the Upper School Teaching and Learning Specialist at Woodward Academy in College Park, Georgia. She is passionate about student driven learning, the art of giving and receiving authentic feedback and coaching, innovation in the classroom, balanced and authentic assessment mapping, and school redesign.

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