President’s Corner

A Message from POE President Sarah Hicks

2020 has been incredibly tough, but we’ve almost made it through the year.

If someone would have told me a year ago what 2020 would be like, I would not have believed them. Despite the uncertainties of a pandemic and the challenges of changing school schedules, we are surviving 2020. We have faced unchartered waters, but we’ve learned new skills along the way. I know that by adapting out of necessity has helped me make a difference to a whole new group of students.

I know we have had to learn a lot of new skills and it has been, at times, overwhelming. Even the young teachers had to learn new technology. We have learned how to maintain relationships with our students while teaching virtually. And, as some teachers retired, we had to work with brand new people. It was a lot to take on, but you did it POE members. I am so proud of the resiliency you possess in educating our children.

As we enter the season of Christmas, maybe we can leave the worries behind us a little bit. Hopefully, you can take a little time to celebrate, sit back and enjoy the holiday.

One way I enjoy the holiday is to take in the bright lights. I love bright lights. They remind me of my childhood when the family would drive to Texarkana to enjoy the decorations, hear the Christmas bells and go Christmas shopping with mom. Today, my husband and I drive around almost every weekend before Christmas to enjoy the lights. And at my house, we put up lots of Christmas lights, even though I live on a street nobody drives down.

Christmas is certainly going to be different this year, but I hope that your holiday traditions will bring you a feeling of calm.

Merry Christmas!

President’s Corner

A message from POE State President Sarah Hicks

Welcome to Fall. I love the changing seasons we get to enjoy in Oklahoma and I look forward to the beautiful colors the fall season brings every year.

And with the changing season, I’m reminded that we have faced a lot of changes in 2020. I know for myself it has been really hard learning so many new skills. And I’m surprised that they have become so easy to develop and use, especially when I use them on a routine basis.

Whether you have been teaching in-person, virtually, or a combination, it is important to build a routine not only for the students but for yourself. I have the same students on Monday and Tuesday, and then another group on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday is for virtual learning. I have to plan so far in advance that I had to get an old fashioned paper calendar and map out my schedule.

With a variety of schedules, the hardest thing for me to remember is where I am with my curriculum. However, planning is critical during these changing times and it helps provide structure for the students. Students thrive on structure. Pre-K may appear to be chaos, but it is orchestrated. Organization is really important in navigating change, and as teachers, we are good at organization.

In addition to having a routine, it is important to build relationships to help you get through difficult times. It is a little bit harder to build relationships with my Pre-K students just because I am not with them as much. However, those relationships create trust. Recently, the power went out at our school and I really needed the students to trust me. I don’t have windows in my classroom but I have flashlights so we made a game and had a picnic on the rug in the dark. Building relationships with the students is key to classroom management. My job is to keep the students safe and that is easier when I have their trust.

I just finished recording a video for POE’s “I Love Teaching” positivity campaign. And, as I proofed the final version I was reminded of why I am doing this—why I am still teaching after nearly 40 years. It was good for me to reflect on why I teach. It is easy to get caught up in what is different this school year. But take time to reflect on why you love teaching, why you wanted to come back this year. Focus on the relationships with the kids and focus on relationships within your school.

These are difficult times, but lean on each other; lean on your colleagues and your teammates. We will get through these changes and difficult times with each other.