AMOS & CELIA HEILICHER MINNEAPOLIS JEWISH DAY SCHOOL

Showing Resilience in the Face of Uncertainty

By Morgan Stair

On Tuesday, October 27th, Maia Poling entered my classroom and informed me that we had our first confirmed Covid-19 case in the 8th grade. A swirl of questions formed in my head, but we first focused on informing the students and getting them ready for distance learning. Because everyone, including the students, seemed to be expecting it, they packed up all of their materials and took home everything they needed to start the distance learning program without much fuss.

Fittingly, we had our distance schedule ready to go and had already practiced many of the online features in class so that all the students knew what to do. For the next three weeks, I greeted my 8th graders on Zoom without missing a beat. They completed EdPuzzles, Jamboards, FliGrids, PearDecks, and all other sorts of online tools, many of which I had never used until this year. We read Lord of the Flies and discussed the book, symbolism, and the nature of humanity, as if we were back in the classroom.

What impressed me the most, though, was just how well the 8th graders seemed to adapt to what is an uncertain and confusing time. They participated in class discussions, wrote emails when they had questions, and, from my perspective, seemed to handle all of their responsibilities independently. (Elementary school parents: Hang in there!) Overall, for me, I think the 8th graders took it all in stride and with great success.

Yesterday, Monday, November 16th, was my first time in the building in about three weeks. It felt so good to be back in the classroom and seeing the students in person. There is just something about answering questions in real time, learning materials as a community, and sharing in the learning process together. Not to mention the random jokes, stories, and small interactions that really build relationships and make teaching unlike any profession out there. While it felt so good to be in the classroom, I know that is not a guarantee. I hope we can stay in school. I hope we can return to normal as soon as possible. But, if there is a silver lining, it is knowing that our students are resilient, adaptable, and just great kids. They can handle whatever the world throws their way.


 

More Posts

Teacher Reflections on Racial Justice Work at Heilicher

“You are not obligated to complete the task, but neither are you free to withdraw from it.”

This is one of our school’s core values, and for me, it describes the challenge of teaching our students to be thoughtful, ethical citizens who take action for social justice. Not long after George Floyd was killed in May 2020, two Heilicher fourth graders spoke at the school’s annual meeting. They challenged our school to take a more active role in combating racism and working for justice. This was a powerful and inspiring call to action.

Chanukah

Chanukah is here!  The great miracle of the oil! The crushing victory of the Maccabees! The reality of the original Chanukah story played out much like the lead-up to our recent election, only then it was a fight for the soul of Judaism, or at least it felt that way. Some Jews living under Greek rule (165 BCE) loved the Greek traditions and wanted to embrace them. Some felt that if Jews embraced any of them, it would lead to the end of Judaism.The stakes felt that high, and eventually it was the Jews who engaged in their own civil war over the future of Judaism;  Did Jews have to refrain from all Greek customs?