Dear Pandemic Principal,
Yes! I’m talking to you, first year principal who ran a school online for months. You, the fifth year principal who felt like a first year principal. You, the mid-career principal who considered changing careers for the first time ever during this school year. You, the 20 year veteran principal who decided it was time for an early retirement. Please hear this well: YOU MADE IT! YOU ARE A SURVIVOR! YOU CRUSHED THIS YEAR! YOU ARE A HERO! YOU ARE SUPERWOMAN! YOU ARE SIMPLY AMAZING! I don’t have to know you to know this. What I do know is that after having served as an educator for over 24 years, and having spent the last 15 months running schools online and recently in-person again, that we who do this work are hands down INCREDIBLE.
You are WORTHY of LOVE, RESECT, ADMIRATION, ADORATION, CONGRATULATIONS, COMPLIMENTS, GRATITUDE, PATIENCE, PEACE, GRACE, FLEXIBILITY, HAPPINESS AND JOY! You deserve good, no, GREAT things! You have worker hard, harder than you knew you knew how to! You proved you can do hard, harder, and some of the hardest things! You are WONDERFUL! ACCEPT IT!
And…You have made mistakes. You have misstepped because you couldn’t see the path because you were trying to create one. You have searched your toolkit for strategies and things that you know worked in-person and reworked them to work online, only to realize it can’t work. And you kept searching. You kept trying. You found a few things that worked and kept at it. You kept encouraging your teachers. You stayed connected with principals and educators near and far so you’d remember you were not alone. You opened anonymous surveys displaying feedback that hurt your heart, seeming to attack your personhood, that discouraged you and made you question everything you stand for. You kept logging on. You fought for your students to get Chromebooks, iPads, hotspots, headphones. You learned how to create breakout rooms on Zoom in record time. You kept smiling on Google Meet. You visited classrooms on Zoom trying to get to know your students and teachers through the screen. You observed teachers teaching remotely and sat in awe of how they kept students engaged in learning and connected to their classmates. You called parents to support their children who were not logging on, falling asleep or not completing their assignments. You conducted sidewalk home visits, delivering work packets, materials, and even food. You planned for reopening school in the last quarter of the school year under state health restrictions and guidelines. You managed teacher anxiety about being in-person with students again, all the while not addressing your own concerns. You reworked schedules and class lists multiple times on Microsoft Teams. You wrote safety manuals and worked with teachers to implement them with students. You kept wearing your mask to school every day and washed your hands for 20 seconds several times an hour. You just wanted your students to be in school, learning and growing together again. You got tested again and again. You contracted the virus. You healed. You got vaccinated. You are MAGNIFICENT! FACE IT!
You kept your family safe. You held down your own children’s remote learning while running your school online. You hosted virtual birthday parties for your own children and delivered and mailed party favors. You took care of your elderly parents. You experienced grief at home and afar. You attended virtual funerals and celebrations. You made lunches during virtual meetings and ordered take out on Thursdays and Fridays because you found out that working from home is just as exhausting, if not more than working in person. You revived family game night in brand new ways. You are a total BOSS! LOVE IT!
You have learned. You have grown in ways you didn’t know you needed to. Your perspectives have changed. Your eyes have been opened to the inextricably connected relationship between equity, social justice and your students’ lives. You’ve started to do your own learning, facing hard truths and making yourself more comfortable being uncomfortable. You are DYNAMIC! OWN IT!
You have much more to learn, and you are able, well-able to do that work, to live out your passions and care about children. You have work to do that will change the atmosphere, move the needle, influence lives, speak to minds and mend broken hearts. This will cause people to look at you and wonder how you did it, how you made it through, how you continue to forge an authentic smile every day, how you speak of hope and gratitude in the face of devastation and harm. You will be at peace because you know from whence your help, your light, your source of strength and energy come. Although I trust and believe that we have all heard the words, “Thank You” expressed throughout this time, I want you to know that I, one of you, am thankful for you – you who are pioneers, champions, relentless, resilient leaders for our students and teachers. You are seen. You are loved. You are needed. You are worthy. You belong right here, right now, for such a time as this. EMBRACE IT!
The Resilient Educator