Connecting Guardians and Schools Remotely

LIGHTS SHINE BRIGHT EVERYWHERE WE GO

As our 2020 second semester turned into distance learning during the Covid19 pandemic, many of us found ourselves overturned in the middle of the creek, clinging to a paddle with one arm slung across the canoe to keep our heads above the water. But now that summer is upon us, we have been able to upright our canoe, toss in both paddles, and climb back into it. While the direction we will be taking this fall is still unclear, we can look back at what worked and what didn’t during the school closures. There were definitely many things we did not do well, but we did shine in one particular area: connecting guardians and our school remotely.

Music for the people, makin’ music for the people

For the last few years, I have encouraged my district to share our story through our social media platforms. As the district’s communication director, I knew it was important to showcase all of the good things that our students and staff have been and are doing. So we began covering more school events. I shared pictures and short video clips at concerts, sporting events, assemblies, art shows, and professional development. Whenever possible, I shared snaps of student awesomeness in the classroom too, but those were harder to come by at first.

Lights shine bright everywhere we go

This past year, the elementary principal had her teachers add a social media commitment of three posts a week to their professional development plans. They soon began to even get the hang of writing the captions. By the time the pandemic closed our doors, we had been sharing our story with our community daily, frequently, and well. We lost one “share the good campaign” paddle in the pandemic current. But what we did next really carried us downstream and through the troubled sections of this school closure river. All we did was make a simple decision to let go of a little control, celebrate the good being done at home, and bring our community together virtually.

Lights shine bright everywhere we go

Since teachers were no longer physically with students, I realized that a shift in our thinking had to occur. Fortunately, my administration team had the same thoughts. We decided that a celebration of the good things going on in the homes of our families was more important than our fear of someone posting negatively, so I adjusted the settings of our Facebook page so that families could comment with pictures. We posted every picture that parents and guardians sent to us, either via the classroom teachers or in direct messages to the district’s Facebook. Our parents included captions, and if they didn’t, the teachers supplied them. I posted dozens of pictures daily for our district, held contests that required picture comments for entries, and celebrated everything we could while we were all told to stay safe at home.

Everywhere we go, music for the people, makin’ music for the people

Did we get more pictures from elementary families than we did middle school and high school? Yes. Did that matter in the long run? No. Our community connected with the school in new ways, changing how we think of our role, the guardian’s role, and the purpose of sharing our story. Inviting our families to share their experiences created a stronger relationship for our district and community. We suddenly found ourselves back in control of the canoe and heading down the river with the current. Wherever the fall and beginning of the new school year takes us, we know we’re not alone, and we are definitely floating in the right direction, together.

Heading titles are partial lyrics from Light Shine Bright by Toby Mac.

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