Back to School will most certainly take on a different meaning this year. As we readjust to “normalcy”, a return after a year of distance learning will come with it’s own set of challenges that will be unique for students and student leaders alike. How we handle those challenges and how we reflect on the challenges we have recently been through, is, as with most things, largely a matter of perspective.
It would be easy to look back on the past year as a “lost” or “wasted” school year. A year without much social interaction, a year mired in inconsistency and confusion, and so much of it spent in front of a computer screen. However, we are still here. And because we are still here, we now have the ability to look back on the adversity we faced as a community and figure out how we can use it to grow.
What specific challenges did we go through during our distance-learning experience that have actually led to newly acquired skills? Is it time management, new tactics for maintaining focus during long stationary hours, or an ability to process information in a new way? We improve our processes through struggle, and while it can be easy to cast aside what has happened over the last year, keeping a positive perspective about our shared experience can help us move forward stronger and better equipped to tackle adverse situations. It also allows us to remap how we approach learning. Is there anything we can be doing differently that would lead to greater academic triumphs?
One of the main pieces of this return is a readjustment to social interactions between students. The togetherness of a school community is something most people take for granted because it is what we have been used to. After a system shock, we are now recalibrating what it means to truly be together. As a community, what will it take to place priority and appreciation on the connections we foster? This could be a rare opportunity for us to strengthen our relationships, and give time to promote deeper bonds with our classmates and students than we have ever had before.
This will be a unique challenge for student leaders. Students should be expected to have a wide array of reactions to this school year, and one size will certainly not fit all. Patience, flexibility, and support is paramount to be able to field the uncertainty and stress some students may feel. If there is one thing we have learned over the last year, it is:
- There are no challenges we cannot overcome.
- We need each other.
Though no one would want to relive the distance-learning approach, keeping the proper perspective as we march forward into a new year will be critical to potentially unprecedented growth for our nation’s youth. Let’s support each other so we can support our kids so we can support our nation.