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  There Are Opportunities In A Crisis  
  “Help your kids continue to devote daily hours to their learning. Get interested in what they are studying.”:   March 25, 2020 Edition  
     BY CINDY MARTZ FERNBACK
      Boardman High School Principal
      It’s been an unusual week to be an educator.
      Each day, we were attempting to plan for a new set of parameters, and even as we planned, like sand, everything was shifting. We would sit in groups and discuss appropriate responses to the current situation, trying to account for all the pieces of our complicated puzzle, write out our messages to our school family, and coordinate our simultaneous release of information.
      Sometimes as we were issuing statements and instructions, the situation was changing yet again which made what we were saying suddenly incorrect or incomplete.
      Back to the planning table again.
      The number one concern when you are an educator is students. Educators love their students. Educators take enormous pride in their teaching craft and the hugely important responsibility of instructing their students. So throughout all of this shifting sand, teachers are trying to create instructional activities that can be delivered remotely without the essential face-to-face interactions that are truly where the magic of learning rests.
      And there I am, trying to encourage and motivate my teachers to create these remote activities, telling them, “you can do this,” and seeing the uncertainty in their faces. But, here’s what gets me every time I have to ask them to do something new and unthinkable, they do it. They jump in, some enthusiastically, some hesitantly, some fearfully. But they roll up their sleeves and get the job done.
      It seems like every year I have to stand in front of these teachers and ask them to face some new and extremely difficult challenge. I have to tell them that they can do it. I tell them that I know they can do it. And I do know they can do it.
      But my heart aches a little even as I tell them they can.
      Teachers were worried about their students. Teachers were wondering how to keep their students attached to the educational process when they are far away. They did their best to create remote lessons to keep students connected to the regular life of school and learning.
      But what about athletics? What about banquets? But what about concerts? But what about state testing? But what about prom? Or commencement? So many questions right now with few answered, unfortunately.
      For right now we know we need help, though. Teachers can’t do the daily work of standing near students and have to rely on parents to carry the torch. Parents, we need your help now. We have always been a team, even if we don’t always realize it. And now we need parents to help us during this strange time.
      Help your kids continue to devote daily hours to their learning. Get interested in what they are studying. Find supplemental information to deepen the experience. Read with them. Watch a related documentary together. Check that they are completing their remote assignments.
      There’s only so much that teachers can do and prepare in such a short time span. Parents can help so much to make the next three weeks as close to authentic learning as possible.
      Remember that this isn’t a snow day. Students have been released from school to prevent social contact. Keep your students home as much as possible and use this time for studies or art or gardening or camping in your backyard.
      Life is strange right now. But there are always opportunities in a crisis. Seek those opportunities with your children and enjoy this strange gift you have been given.
      Your children’s teachers await normal life again with lots of hope for a swift return to school days. Stay safe. Stay healthy.
      (Written on Mar. 14, 2020)
 
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