Better Together - 6 Ways To Bring People Together During COVID-19

I went for a run the other day and I felt like I had superpowers. Anytime I'd come toward someone on the sidewalk, they would instantly cross the street to stay away from me. At one point, I totally forgot we were social distancing and couldn't understand why people were darting away from me. However, now more than ever, I have noticed that people go out of their way to say hello from a distance, to make a connection, and to relate to one another. We are hungering to be together again. These are tough times in schools and especially for students and teachers. We need to be intentional in bringing our students, staff, and community together. Our Seniors are worried if they will be able walk across the stage at graduation, elementary students are afraid they won't see their teacher again, and teachers are swirling over the anxiety of teaching totally online. Even though we can't join hands and unite together, our hearts and actions can join together because we are better together.

6 Ways to Bring People Together During COVID-19

1. Personal Connection - There's nothing more powerful than a personal connection. Whether it be a phone call, Google Hangout, or Zoom. Find a way to connect personally with students and staff. One high school principal wanted to connect with his Seniors so badly that he visited everyone at their home. Principal Eric Naglee, Principal of Page HS, is visiting every Senior to honor them and celebrate them in a way he believes they deserve.

2. Video Message - It's so great to see how so many schools are reaching out to their students in such meaningful ways. West Pottsgrove Elementary School Principal, Steve Sieller, and his faculty/staff created this powerful message for their students. These video messages are great ways to build connections and to demonstrate love and care for students.

3. Facebook/Instagram Live - Facebook Live is an excellent feature to connect with parents and teachers. They are platforms parents are already familiar with, and it doesn't require them to learn something new. These platforms allow for interaction, questions, and sharing out information. Here's a quick tutorial to help you get started with FB Live.

4. Virtual Town Hall Meeting - My Superintendent had a great idea of hosting Virtual Town Hall meetings with parents to share information and to ask questions. Meetings like this build confidence and trust. Plus, it provides another avenue for parents to ask questions and to connect. We will be using Zoom to connect with parents and to answer their questions.

5. Reach Out to Those With Anxiety/Depression - These times are so difficult as we face the fear of becoming infected or having a loved one contract the virus. Anxiety is at an all time high, and my heart breaks for the students that depend on the school to help them navigate their regular tough times of life. This is why it's so important to reach out to your students and staff members who struggle with anxiety, depression, or mental health. Work with your school counselors to make sure these students are contacted and supported. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is an excellent resource for everyone at this time.

6. Share Memories - I love how ESPN is replaying old baseball games and it made me think, why don't we do this for schools. Let's try and find pictures and videos that we can share out to our families to remind them of the days we were together. By doing this, we showcase our students, teachers, and school culture. Leverage social media to share these memories out. I wonder if schools could host watch parties on FB by showing a school play, graduation, or a sporting event.

I'd love to hear how you are bringing people together during this time. Leave a comment or visit my website to share what your school is doing.

Check out Dr. Ziegler's latest Book, "You Don't Need Superpowers to Be a Kid's Hero: Leading A Hero-Building School Culture" Subscribe to Lead the Way, A Podcast for Principals hosted by Dr. Bill Ziegler

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