Silver Linings During a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

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Elizabeth Mikeska-Benfield is a bilingual, maker-teacher-librarian at Wooldridge Elementary. She enjoys connecting literacy with making and pushing herself to learn new things. She also enjoys hanging in nature with her family and getting down with some karaoke. 

Wow, just wow. This year has taken us to the lowest lows and the darkest of times. We’ve had to face incredible challenges that nearly broke us. We’ve had to reinvent ourselves, our teaching strategies, and try to get students to engage in completely new ways that seemed strange and foreign. We were making half of this stuff up as we went through this crazy year. And, you know what? We are better for it! Our students have experienced real life problem solving in action and have had the opportunity to participate in it! Talk about hands-on experience for learning to “go with the flow”! It hasn’t always been pretty, but we’ve learned so much along the way. 

I’d like to take you back to a spring day before the pandemic when my amazing TDC came to help me with my fourth and fifth grade classes. Our goal was to have all students be able to log on to the portal. This was our ONLY goal! Get them logged on–and, we’d go from there. I believe the first session was about 45 minutes long and we were not successful in getting everyone logged on. From not knowing birthdays to different last names–this simple goal seemed impossible! We finally were able to get everyone in after two to three sessions. I was so proud that those kiddos were using technology and was very excited about future projects I had planned for them. Well…did we get an opportunity to use and flex and grow those skills, or what?!

Now, fast forward to this crazy year. I’m connecting and engaging with students via BLEND and using all sorts of wonderful tech tools with them. And, I’m not the only one. Our teachers have grown and stretched in so many ways. Teachers who wouldn’t touch BLEND with a ten foot pole are really getting in the groove on online and blended learning!

So…this year has been hard. It has been scary and frustrating. BUT–amongst the bad a beautiful seed has been planted and is being nurtured! I’m grateful for silver linings that give my students the opportunity to have new experiences and gain knowledge that once seemed just out of reach.

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