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The Silver Linings of Pandemic Education at Rossman
By: Lower School Director Rachel Dixon
The spring vacation was a time of reflection as we passed through our pandemic anniversary, recalling where we were one year ago and what we have accomplished since that time. The transition to remote learning last spring was intense and unfamiliar, and the preparations for the 2020-2021 school year brought a whole host of new challenges as we “reimagined” just about everything under the sun. Our attention turned from connecting to children from afar and completing all of our end-of-year objectives to adapting our curriculum to fit within the boundaries of COVID protocols and helping our students adjust to a new way of doing school.
Though his year has brought its anxieties and challenges to be sure, there has also been much to celebrate. Perhaps the two “silver linings” of pandemic education that I appreciate the most are the ingenuity of our educators and the opportunity for our children (and ourselves) to grow in and exercise resilience.
“Ingenuity, plus courage, plus work, equals miracles.” —Bob Richards
The flexibility and creativity of the Rossman faculty and staff are nothing short of remarkable. Not only have our students received the strong, rigorous curricular experience they would in a “typical” year, but in many cases they have been the beneficiaries of new and innovative approaches that have made strong impacts on our program. In the coming weeks, you’ll have the pleasure of hearing about more specific examples of this ingenuity from our Upper School director, Jordan Andes. The determination of our faculty to maintain excellence and to meet the needs of their students has created new procedures, approaches, use of space, projects, and celebrations that I expect (and hope) will remain a part of our work as we return to “normal.” This can be entirely attributed to the courage, hard work, and resilience of Rossman faculty and staff.
“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.” —Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Some of the skills learned and practiced in school are visible and concrete such as reading or recall of math facts, and some are much more subtle. Resilience is one of those more subtle skills, but one of incredible value and importance. It is also a skill that has been gaining increasing attention as essential to the healthy development of children. Resilience acts like a muscle. We want to stretch it, and in doing so, grow it. Too much stress or adversity is harmful, but small doses help us build our resilience muscle.
There are various strategies through which we can support the development of resilience in children. Here are some of the most effective strategies:
Build and maintain strong relationships.
Provide a safe and nurturing environment.
Help others (serving others provides perspective and empowers us).
Engage in conversation about feelings and answer questions that arise.
Practice problem solving and goal setting.
Learn to cope with and adapt to change.
If you think this list sounds a lot like the mission and vision of a Rossman education, you are absolutely correct. Thankfully, these strategies are lived out on a daily basis here at Rossman. Having that strong layer of support already in place was an essential piece of our success in educating students over this past year.
The pandemic has provided us all — regardless of age — with the opportunity to further build our resilience. The approach to learning and the supportive nature of our community here at Rossman leave us well-poised to counter the stress and change of a pandemic situation and to ultimately strengthen the resilience of our students. Further, the ingenuity modeled by our incredible faculty and staff reinforced the ability to problem solve and to stretch and grow through challenging circumstances. From mask-wearing and social distancing to limited social interactions and occasionally, learning from home, our students have demonstrated their ability to stretch and tackle these less than ideal circumstances.
Recent conversations with families of prospective students have focused on COVID protocols, the adaptations we have made to learning, and how our youngest learners have adapted to a new way of school. In these conversations, I speak to the ingenuity of our faculty, the resilience of our community, and the support, grace and joy that are found sprinkled throughout all we do at Rossman. We have all flexed our ingenuity and resilience muscles this year, and we will be forever stronger for it.
Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in St. Louis, is a private preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills. Request a free Rossman School brochure here.