Last January, I talked about focus and how we have to be intentional about focusing on the right things during the busyness of life.
Little did I know that a global pandemic would force focus upon us. One positive outcome of 2020 was that most of us had to slow down and refocus on what was most important in our personal and professional lives.
Connection and hope were two concepts that came into focus for me.
We were reminded of the importance of connections. Connections with our family and friends. Connections between teachers, students, and students’ families.
Some of us found new ways to create and maintain these connections. Like many of you, I taught my fall 2020 semester classes remotely. Although it was awkward and a little unnerving at first, we found ways to develop relationship even though we were never in the same physical space. I think that’s because, even though physical proximity is important for developing connection, it is not the only ingredient.
We can display caring, thoughtfulness, and genuine interest in others through our words and actions, even if they are mediated by technology. These connections often give others hope to keep going.
We were reminded of the importance of hope. Shortly after the initial shock of the invasiveness of COVID into our lives, spreading hope became almost as pervasive.
News reporters ended their stories reminding viewers that “we’re all in this together.” Social media was filled with stories of individuals helping individuals in a myriad of ways. Progress toward a vaccine and stories of recovery also permeated the news. All this was an attempt to spread hope—to help people focus on what was important and to know there was hope for better days.
For many, hope culminated in the changing of the calendar less than a week ago. People were happy to bid 2020 goodbye and to welcome the New Year with anticipation 2021 could be better than last year.
Some people have hope in the most desperate of situations, which is often rooted in their faith. Others lack hope and need friends or acquaintances to help them see where hope can be found.
I just finished reading a book that demonstrates this idea in an impressive way. A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea by Melissa Fleming tells the true story of a young Syrian woman who survived unimaginable trauma as she and her family sought safety outside of their beloved home country. Despite setbacks and barriers, she continued to have hope that her life could be better.
If you haven’t read this story, it needs to be at the top of your 2021 reading list. It illustrates how powerful hope can be in moving people forward.
A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea
As a teacher, you have the opportunity to carry lessons you learned into 2021.
How can you focus on making stronger connections with your students and their families? In what ways can you spread hope to your colleagues, students, and their families?
What are your ELs and their families hoping for? In what ways can you offer them hope that their dreams are worth striving for despite the odds against them?