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As everyone in education knows right now, schools in the midst of a pandemic look a whole lot different than they did before. My teaching partner, Paula, and I continue to play around with our classroom set-up to help “scale that condo wall” and find possibilities in the midst of necessary safety restrictions.

While we set-up, we’ve been engaging online and in-person with other kindergarten educators to exchange ideas, ask questions, and find new options. During these discussions, we’ve heard many comments such as,

“Oh my goodness! Those poor JK’s. How are they ever going to stay in one spot all day? What are we expecting of them? My heart breaks for them!”

This might be paraphrased, but it sums up the gist of the conversations. I get this. I do! We will have many three-year-olds in our class this year. Some might be very toddler-like, and what we’re expecting of them might be beyond their developmental level. The learning curve is going to take,

  • patience,
  • support,
  • scaffolding,
  • creative ideas,
  • and a lot of learning for all of us involved: educators and kids alike.

But I’m starting to see an unexpected upside to these COVID-19 restrictions: increased empathy. As educators are talking about possible reactions and behaviours from their students, nobody is focused on misbehaviour. They’re focused on stress behaviour. The care and genuine love for these kids is apparent, and it’s a wonderful heartwarming thing to see. I have to wonder, will this empathy change …

  • how we respond to kids and to issues?
  • the problem solving that we do as school and grade teams?
  • the focus that we have on children and what they need?

I wonder if this increased empathy will shift how we perceive students and their behaviour, even when this pandemic ends. Could there be a Self-Reg bonus to the Coronavirus? This is giving me a little hope and a much-needed reframe. What about you?

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