Decades from Now, What Will Be the Story You Tell?

Decades from Now, What Will Be the Story You Tell?

I recently had the opportunity to reconnect with educators I worked with at the school where I began my teaching career. Many of them came straight from productive days in their various current school assignments, and everyone had a lot to share. One teacher showed pictures from a science experiment her students had completed virtually, another discussed the ways she learned to coach educators during a pandemic, and yet another shared ways they adapted to support special needs students.

What struck me most was the tone in their voices and the atmosphere in the room. It was celebratory, lively, and – even after this whirlwind of a year – joyful. I was transported back to a school community I remember from decades ago – a group of positive, can-do people who took obstacles in stride and did not hesitate to lean on others. Our reunion reminded me of the power and importance of one of Responsive Classroom’s guiding principles: How we work together as adults to create a safe, joyful, and inclusive school environment is as important as our individual contribution or competence.

This past year, a sense of community took on increased importance. Educators’ successes and day-to-day survival were intertwined with the adults they worked beside. Nobody could go it alone. Every single component of that community – including superintendents, school boards, technology departments, principals, teachers, support staff, and parents – had to stretch themselves in new ways and work together for the sake of students.  

As you pause and reflect on this past year, ask yourself: how did your community come together? In what ways did you connect and rely on others? Who provided you with support – both behind the scenes and in your day-to-day work? What can you celebrate about each member of your adult community?

My time reconnecting with my former colleagues reminded me how important it is to celebrate all the individuals who made this year a success. There are many ways to convey your appreciation:

  • Send a handwritten note of gratitude. 
  • Give a public shoutout honoring and recognizing collaborative efforts and contributions. 
  • Create a school time capsule honoring ways your school shifted, adjusted, and came through on the other side with a smile.

While there is no doubt that this year was filled with hurdles, we get to choose how we remember this time. What we pay attention to grows. It was such a joy to be surrounded by the optimism of my former colleagues as they celebrated the resilience that helped them navigate a difficult year. What story do you hope to tell years from now, when your community gathers to connect and reminisce?


Written by Karen Poplawski, Responsive Classroom Chief Program Officer