As we embark on this
unprecedented bizarre frightening school year, we do so, perhaps for the first time ever, on a parallel course with each other. Gone are the days of imagined or tangential shared experience. Ours is now a visceral, often public, and daily collision course with the unknown highlighted by more variables than constants.
But it’s also an opportunity.
During the spring shutdown, I committed to recording and tweeting a short, daily vlog for our community because I wanted the kids to see my face and hear my voice, and I wanted the grown ups to know I was right there with them. So from the mundane to the existential, I turned our separation into connection. After all, our motto at Tatem Elementary School is “We Are All Connected.”
Ahead of Monday’s first day for our kids, I will share a vlog with our community called “Hope and Grace.” Though I realize it sounds like a zany new Thursday night comedy on CBS this fall, the title, and the vlog’s message, has been bouncing around my head for weeks.
The thing about hope is it’s not necessarily a promise or guarantee. While it operates on the idea of something better, it allows for the very real possibility that something better may have already skipped town a long time ago. Still, it’s an abstract concept on which we can build concrete, and very personal, foundations.
As for grace, well, I think my staff is already tired of hearing me talk about its importance for us and for families. But from the absurdity of hard and fast Zoom etiquette rules for every learner to a growing beck and call expectation for teachers, we’ve gotten so far from the power of grace that asking for help or saying no have become synonymous with weakness and selfishness. And that has to stop.
If we are going to move forward, and my school community will, using hope and grace as a mantra (and a shiny new hashtag!) then we have to both personalize and practice each. Hope is what propped my wife and me up during our years long infertility experience. Grace is what I led with when I became a principal, assuring my staff that I need them more than they need me.
Hope and grace are what will get us to the other side of this impossibly long journey we didn’t know we were going to take six months ago.
Hope and grace.