Teachers and children alike thrive on the daily experience of being themselves in each other's presence and nurturing that connection to make learning possible. Arguably, all meaningful work--in education, medicine, law, finance, public service--stems from the fact that we bring ourselves to our work and we care deeply about seeing and being seen by one another (preferably not on camera). I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a teacher, a child, or a parent who thinks technology fully bridges the distance between us all right now. But right now, it's all we have to bridge that gap, and the teachers at Friends School Haverford are not only up for the challenge but determined to make those connections happen. My colleagues are working harder than ever to bring what comes naturally to them into a new form. By the end of the first week of distance learning, our teachers had their fill of looking at and talking to themselves on camera, but that didn't stop them from filming. Each morning, our teachers summon their teacher's voice even though they are in their living room. Each day, they work to strike the balance of something akin to a normal routine and the acknowledgment that, if we had any choice at the moment, this is not what any of us would choose.
With each passing week, there is a growing sense that we will have to continue to adapt, that summer will not bring an end to social distancing, and that the end won't be a return to the truly familiar. With each passing week, what teaching looks like changes as we adapt. However, the intention, compassion, and soul of this work have not. Our teachers are working harder than ever to make sure their students are seen and heard and deeply known across this divide. They are, to borrow from Theodore Roosevelt, doing what they can, where they are, with what they have, and what they have is an abiding love of learning with your children and the promise of shared joy in the process.
To our teachers who are adapting their gifts, thank you. To our parents who are adapting to help our teachers make learning possible under extraordinary circumstances, thank you. To our children who persist with curiosity and joy as the ground shifts beneath us, we owe you the world for that--now more than ever.