The 2019-2020 school year will go down in the history books. Students, staff and parents will always remember where they were during the 2020 Pandemic – at home! Who knew a Pandemic could bring out the best in us? As an educator, parent, and Manager of the Continuing & Community Education department, I witnessed a sense of community, collaboration, and innovation. Together we did more than survive; we thrived. Here are the five things that I am grateful for and will always remember.
1. Expanding community spirit and sharing – we lived our OCSB Strategic Commitment of Be Community, and our Spiritual Theme, “Love Kindness and Mercy.” The sense of community was everywhere. Teachers distributed learning materials and Chromebooks, taught in students’ driveways and reached out to families with compassion and care. We raised money and awareness for the Catholic Education Foundation of Ottawa, Food Banks and Breakfast Clubs to ensure our families’ wellbeing.
2. Juggling the priorities of life – school closures meant significant changes for educators, parents and students. Dining rooms became make-shift offices and coffee tables students desks. Teachers were now standing in front of a screen instead of a classroom – yet somehow, we made it work. Parents juggled their time, energy, and work priorities while co-teaching their children and meeting other family commitments. Kudos for modelling resilience, patience and commitment to education.
3. Increasing focus on equity, community and inclusion – as a department, Continuing & Community Education routinely celebrates our students’ cultures, languages, and customs. Before the pandemic, we held celebrations embracing the food, music and history of various cultures represented in our International Languages Program. But this year, we chose to be more purposeful in our actions. Although we’ve held Black History Month celebrations for over a decade, this year we showcased this important month in-person and online. We recognize the importance of the Black Community in Canada and around the world. We also looked inward. We chose to have difficult conversations about our own biases and began the process of “unlearning and learning,” so we could be more aware and more inclusive in our teaching. Our team introduced innovative translation tools designed to bring learners closer together. Our efforts give me great hope for the future. We are all God’s creation.
4. Innovative, creative times – During school closures, I observed innovation, creativity and a willingness to take risks by educators through distance learning. Students demonstrated new skills acquired through learning at home. Our educators adapted quickly, creating innovative, exciting lessons to support student achievements. In my department, staff were energized and shared new ways of doing things, proving to be effective. Let’s keep up the momentum!
5. Humour and kindness carry us – this challenging season renewed our sense of humour and encouraged us to celebrate our communities. My colleagues shared their positive attitude online – and on the phone. We mastered everything Google through trial and error. My colleagues’ ability to find positives each day was a wonderful gift. Laughter and kindness helped us support each other as we faced stress, uncertainty and anxiety. A kind word went a long way. I thank my colleagues, friends and family for making my days brighter and reminding me that this too shall pass.
Most of all, I am thankful for our OCSB team. I encourage you to think of what you are grateful for and share your #ocsb5things.