Friday, April 10, 2020

Our students don't just need a device

We are closed.

Governor Whitmer ordered all K-12 schools in Michigan to close beginning March 16. Originally, we had hoped that we would reopen in April.

That fleeting hope was dashed on April 2nd when the Governor closed schools for the rest of the year.

Those who believe in technology have jumped in to extol the value of online learning. Who needs a classroom? Just provide every student a laptop and an internet connection.

Problem solved.

I would disagree.

While it is true that learning can occur online, students need more than a device. 
Students need caring adults in their lives who know them, try to understand them, support them, push them, and care deeply for them.

Our kids don't just need a device.

They need adults - who are not their parents - demonstrating to them that they are worth it.
Our Novi teachers do more than just feed students content. They encourage. They motivate. They challenge. They support. They create an environment where students not only learn but also develop a sense of themselves - who they are and who they can become.

And not only our teachers. We have bus drivers, secretaries, paraprofessionals, support staff who spend more time with the children in our district than their parents do. And each of them makes a difference for our students. 

During our pandemic closure, I am doing a read aloud every day. It is hoped that it does some good. The book we are currently reading is Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson.

In one passage Ms. Bixby, the 6th grade teacher, tells Topher, her student:

We all have moments when we think nobody really see us.
When we feel like we have to act out or be somebody else just to get noticed.
But somebody notices Topher. 
Somebody sees.

Our Novi Community School District staff - teachers, administrators, secretaries, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, lunch support, hall monitors, tech staff - see. Our staff see our students. They notice. They care.

This caring relationship provides our students with a floor to stand on, to grow from, to become whom they were meant to become.

The process is messy. The process is slow at times.

But people make the difference.

In a virtual learning environment devices are clearly important.

But what's most important during this pandemic closure is to remember that our students need more than a device.

They need us.