Parents, We See You!

April 29, 2020

It was the second week of our spring break. Day by day the walls felt as if they were closing in on us. The world was shutting down, our circles were closing in. This was a new experience for British Columbians and the worst part of it was that no one yet understood what it would mean and where it would ultimately end.

Each person started making adjustments to normal life, reducing their interactions with others and began investing in hand sanitizers, face masks and of course the coveted toilet paper! Cans were stocked in pantries and frozen veggies stored in chest freezers. Behind the scenes at UA, the momentum of regular spring break work (which often includes starting those projects we rarely have the time to otherwise do) started shifting. Plans were being made and expectations were being set. The writing was on the wall and the reality was setting in that the Monday after spring break wouldn’t bring with it the clambering of kids and backpacks, parents greeting one another and rested teachers busily sharing their holiday tales.

Instead, work began whole heartedly in changing from the educational human contact model that we’re used to, to a virtual sharing of knowledge, assignments and support. The framework was set by leadership and the teachers jumped into their new and sometimes uncomfortable roles upon their return. But this shift didn’t only impact staff, UA parents and students had to adjust all that they knew of what a learning day would look like and respond accordingly in the blink of an eye.

We saw it happen but as we often share, things don’t just ‘happen’ by chance. They happen and happen well because there is a force in the background ensuring their success. We have always known but these days we are seeing it in a new light, that one of our significant and incredible forces at UA is our parent community. Parents have put aside their own laptops (or in reality put them aside for chunks just to pick them up a million times a day to find a few precious minutes to respond to their own emails and responsibilities) to ensure schoolwork continues. The dance between their own Zoom meetings and taking the time to review assignments, explain concepts and trouble shoot technology on their child’s device is a balance not always maintained and can lead to feeling that nothing is done quite well enough. We don’t need to reiterate what you already know, but let us share that these days my friends, are not intended for perfection.

We have heard stories of families who have semi-permanently retreated to family cabins so that their workdays can be salvaged by allowing their children some much needed forest exploration. We have heard of grandparents being brought out of retirement to Zoom-teach multiplication tables and the concept of osmosis. Other parents have moved the furniture around in houses to accommodate a number of work-from-home situations. Those makeshift ‘offices’ are located strategically ensuring family members are far apart enough not to distract one another, but close enough together to give that support that the students will invariably need a good thousand times a day. This alone is an exercise in creativity and logistics as worksites have recently proven to be a fluid concept. A welcome addition that brings smiles to our faces is that our teachers have now been invited into your homes. We see you seek out opportunities for your own brain breaks by taking part in PE sessions, Art lessons and Music classes with your kids and we have met many a family pet in the past weeks. Thank you for jumping in with both feet and leading by example!

And then there is our generation’s love/hate relationship with screen time. What is too much? Will they miss out if it’s not enough? What if it’s educational, does that count? The messages conveyed around this topic are inescapable. But now, the context has changed. Screens are the answer, the solution to not missing out on pivotal learning concepts and gaining foundational academic knowledge. So parents have put aside many house rules and opened the doors wide to technology. Our community was brought up to speed with Seesaw Class and Google Classroom in the blink of an eye (although it may have been one of those very slow sleepy blinks for some). UA students have also had their crash course in doing all of their courses supported in one way or another through a screen. Oh, how times have changed!

We often wonder how we will look back on this time once things settle back to normal. Many of us spend some time thinking about the life lessons – both good and bad – that are being learned in the face of this pandemic. One thing at Urban Academy that has been cemented in our knowledge is the resiliency and commitment of our parent community. You have been creative, you have adjusted your normal, you have sacrificed and as always, you’ve done it with a smile on your face and an encouraging word back to your teachers and the wider staff. We at Urban Academy are grateful for your ongoing support and value you immensely, you really have proven that we are all UA Lions.

Posted on: April 28, 2020