Morale is down among teachers and students since the rapid shift to remote learning amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to a survey of teachers and district leaders by the EdWeek Research Center last week. Here’s an cheerful idea that might work for your school and community – a Teacher Parade – complete with safety protocols.
In his book Community: The Structure of Belonging, Peter Block writes that “The key to creating or transforming community…is to see the power in the small but important elements of being with others.”
I think Covid-19 is likely awakening a sense of community in many people, as it has for me and for our small community.
Pike Road Schools released for Spring Break on March 20, a Friday. We all knew the severity of Covid-19 at this point, and we were preparing for a multitude of possibilities before we left school that Friday. But I don’t think any of us expected that we would not return until the 2020-2021 school year.
Alicia Hernandez, the reading specialist at Pike Road Elementary School (PRES), read about a school in another state – Robertson Elementary in Frisco Independent School District (Texas) – that hosted a teacher parade to encourage families and teachers as the pandemic swept most of the nation. Inspired, Alicia quickly organized a teacher parade for PRES lead learners (our teachers) to ride through the neighborhoods our learners (students) and their families call home.
With the following rules and regulations (we also included a parade route), we were able to safely execute our teacher parade three weeks ago:
Pike Road Elementary School Teacher Parade
Rules for parade participants –
- Meet at the Elementary School Parking lot at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24th.
- Social Distancing is A MUST! We do not want to add to the problem. We are only here to help. So please stay in your cars and use caution and distance when we gather.
- You may create signs to wave out of your car as we drive through neighborhoods. I wouldn’t suggest decorating your car, because well the decorations may not make it the entire way.
- You CANNOT make physical contact with any of the spectators. AGAIN, WE WILL NOT BE PART OF THE PROBLEM. You may wave only. Do not throw anything (i.e. candy, etc.) from your car except kisses, love and joy!
Rules for spectators –
- Stay on your porch, close to your house, or inside. Please do not gather with others. SOCIAL DISTANCING IS A MUST! We want to add cheer, not more harm to this situation.
- If you gather at a common place such as Town Hall, please stay in your cars and wave from there.
The staff joined together at the elementary school and our school principal Jeff Hatfield clapped for each lead learner as they peeled out of the parking lot and then he joined the parade.
One car after another car, one lead learner after another, set forth anticipating a socially distanced uniting with their learners and their families. Essentially, we were excited about what Peter Block calls community. We were about to see the power of being with others.
As local law enforcement’s blue lights stopped traffic for our teacher parade, many of us made our way with tears in our eyes as we met families with tears in their own eyes. We traveled to one neighborhood after another, saw at least a million waves, and were careful as we drove not bump the teacher in front of us if they were stopping to talk with a family or take a picture of the sign made specifically for them.
The result? An overpowering sense of community among teachers and staff, with and among our families, and within the larger community of Pike Road. Everywhere we felt a true sense of connection with our fellow human beings amidst one of the most unusual times we will ever know in our lives.
The teacher parade set the tone as we launched into our version of remote learning. As our nation adapts to what school looks like during Covid-19, we are finding that education gives us an opportunity to show how human we are. Parents are home working and raising children and teachers are adjusting to this new norm. Administrators are leading people who are no longer in their buildings. In 10 years, I think we will most remember how our communities banded together. I hope so.
Natalie Tucker has been in education for the past nine years as a teacher, instructional enrichment coordinator, and elementary curriculum coordinator. She is part of a start-up school system in Alabama. Pike Road Schools is a K-12 public school district aiming to put learners first and be a leader in the education revolution.