Meaningful connections pave the path forward
With the end of the school year quickly approaching, it is important to take time to reflect on how it started, celebrate how far we have come and keep the momentum going as we move forward.
Just one year ago we were meeting with educators, administrators and other stakeholders to start planning for what return to learning would look like. Since then, the challenges we have overcome, the solutions we have implemented and the work we have collectively done to ensure our schools opened for learning this year have provided many advantages for our students.
One such advantage is the human connection, which is so important for building meaningful teacher-student relationships. Not only are connections and support systems important for mental health, they also have a strong, positive impact on student learning, engagement and achievement.
During school visits over the past several weeks I have witnessed many meaningful connections, the enthusiasm of the students engaged in learning and dedicated teachers who are creating a climate for success.
Rebecca Callahan’s classroom at Marshalltown’s Miller Middle School was bustling with activity as she helped students in hands-on career exploration activities. Students in Josh McCollam’s Project Lead the Way class at Pella Middle School were racing their air skimmers while learning about precision measurements. At Kenwood Leadership Academy, which is part of the Cedar Rapids Community School District, Agustina Alvarez’s students were attentive and completely immersed in a language arts game-show activity designed by a student in the class. In these classrooms, and so many others across the state, students are engaged, connected and having fun while learning thanks to teachers who believe in them and push them to go further.
With this week being Teacher Appreciation Week, there has never been a better time to recognize and thank our teachers for the work they do to educate our more than 540,000 students in school districts and nonpublic schools across the state.
This past year teachers found new ways to connect with students, took on additional responsibilities, nurtured inspiration and were transformative influences on the lives of their students. While I believe every day should be teacher appreciation day, this week serves as an important reminder to take the time for each of us to share our gratitude for all the things teachers are doing, both big and small, to support students in their learning.
So thank you, Ms. Callahan, Mr. McCollam, Ms. Alvarez and all of the other amazing teachers who are making a difference in the lives of students.