Reading to Children Gives Educators and Students an Opportunity to Stay Connected
2020 has been a year of both challenges and opportunities for public education. School leaders had to think quickly on their feet at they responded to the health and safety needs of students, staff, and families during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Educators did the heavy lifting of shifting their instruction online and learning how to create new classroom communities in the virtual landscape. While instruction moved online, classroom rituals, family events, and other cherished school traditions were also re-invented with innovative new approaches.
At Athlos Academy of St. Cloud, a tuition-free public charter school in St. Cloud, Minnesota, educators took the opportunity to start new traditions geared toward the emotional and academic needs of children. Searching for a meaningful connection with students, teachers created “Tuck-In Tuesdays,” a virtual bedtime story time shared on social media every Tuesday evening.
Donning pajamas, sitting by the fire, or finding a cozy reading nook by the window, teachers, social workers, and school leaders took turns reading books and introducing social-emotional learning to their virtual students. Some went as far as including their children and furry friends.
Rainbow Fish, The Mitten and The Giving Tree all became opportunities not only to enjoy a story, but also to build the valuable connection that serves as the foundation of all teacher-student relationships.
“This became a labor of love for our staff and a way to connect with our families and students. We miss seeing them and wanted to stay connected in a meaningful way,” said Executive Director Randy Vetsch.
While the “Tuck-In Tuesdays” are geared toward children, even adults have enjoyed the new tradition. One parent commented, “Tianne’s grandma enjoyed the book!” after Director Vetsch launched the series with the time-honored story of The Mitten.
“Tuck-In Tuesdays” are available at the Athlos Academy of St. Cloud Facebook page and archived on the website with links to find the books at the library or online. Athlos Academy: Tuck-in-Tuesday Book List (athlosstcloud.org)
As the new year begins, and with it the hope of returning to learning in-person, new traditions like “Tuck-In Tuesdays” will remain a loving tribute the good things that came from the challenges of 2020.
Author: Heather Crocker
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