Last Day of School Letter

The last day of school should be a time to reflect back on what we’ve accomplished and celebrate our time together. It’s usually a time of parties, sharing food and going outside to avoid hot, sticky classrooms. It’s the time when we find things in our lockers that we’ve been missing since November. But not this year.

This year has been a challenge for all of us in many ways. Even before the school closure due to COVID-19, you had to deal with job action that meant fewer extracurricular activities and several missed days of school. As we watched the pandemic grow at a distance, anxiety grew for many of you, and as it got closer to home, we all had to deal with changes to our routines. 

Learning from home is difficult. I know I’ve mentioned it several times already, but it’s worth saying again. You didn’t ask for this. You didn’t want this. And, I think it’s fair to say that most of us weren’t prepared for this. It was hard. Some of you may have felt that you couldn’t do the kind of work I was expecting you to do from home, or that it was too hard without the ability to ask questions when you needed to. Some of you may have felt just overwhelmed by the constant stream of alerts from Gmail and Google Classroom. I know that I felt that way in trying to keep up with responses to all of you. I hope you can take away some learning from this time of closure, because we don’t know exactly what September will bring yet. I know that I’m already thinking about what I will need to do, in order to support my students better. Ask yourself what you might need to do to be an adaptable learner – potentially working in class sometimes, and working at home other times. If you struggled with learning from home, please don’t feel that the problem was you. This was not an ideal situation and I’m sure you did the best you could, and it’s important to look after your health and well-being above all else. Use the summer to reset expectations for what school might look like next year. Think about what it means for you, when you know ahead of time that you might need to do more learning from home. What do you need to do to be successful? What can your teachers do to help you be more successful. Please, let them know!

I have learned from each of you this year, and I appreciate the different perspectives and experiences you bring to our classroom.  Throughout the year, you gave me a lot to think about, not just with regard to school and academics, but by letting me know about your lives beyond Teston Village as well. Thank you for bringing your questions, your curiosity, your stories and your sense of humour to school every day. I’m saddened that we lost so much time together this year. 

I have put a page on my classroom blog at https://monahan.testonvillage.ca/summer-learning/ to provide you with links to resources and activities that you can use to stay engaged in learning over the summer. One of the things I was happiest to see was that you can now get a library card for the Vaughan Public Library, without having to go to the library. This will allow you to access their large collection of eBooks and audio books, so that when we lose our full access to Epic, you’ll still have lots of quality books to choose from. You can find their sign up page at https://www.vaughanpl.info/online_registration. Please make sure that you continue to read every day over the summer. I also encourage you to stay active in math over the summer. Practice, play games and explore the ideas that you found challenging this year so you’ll feel confident going into grade 8.

For parents, thank you for all you’ve done to support your children this year. Don’t be too hard on yourself (or your child)  if you don’t feel that you were able to get your child to do their best with online learning. It wasn’t easy for them with the resources we had access to. I know I struggled to support my own kids and keep them engaged while learning at home. I know many of you were working at home, and your children were helping out with younger siblings or doing other things to contribute to the family. I encourage you to talk with your child about what worked, and what didn’t work, so that you can continue to advocate for their success next year.

I hope all of you have a safe and enjoyable summer (we say that every year, but this year the emphasis on safe is much stronger). I know that (much like our school year) it won’t be a typical summer, but I hope that you are able to do some things you enjoy. I am looking forward to seeing you next year, even if it won’t be in my classroom. When we get the all-clear, I hope you stop in to visit and tell me what’s happening in your lives.

Have a great summer! I will miss you,
Mr. Monahan