“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change.” Psalm 46:1-2a.
Schools are starting. I would like to say that we are all off to smooth first days, but it is a different year and anything but normal.
How are TeachBeyond teachers and schools managing?
What Students are Seeing
I can’t give you a snapshot of schools without first listening to Psalm 46. Teachers around the world know the structures and patterns we have used are often gone. And, even where we can start somewhat normally, we all know that “the normal” is fragile and can change again.
Teachers and school leaders have claimed the words “God is our refuge and strength”; their trust and celebration of our great God has become the story, not the virus. Students and parents are seeing teachers enter the uncertainty knowing that “God has this.” They see teachers pouring out their hearts with new and creative approaches because they love their students.
A Glimpse at the Status of Schools
TeachBeyond schools are dealing with the same uncertainties as schools near you. They are working to start the year using the best way possible in their community, to enable students to learn, and not just learn but be transformed.
Many schools are struggling with finances, especially where enrollment was hurt by the virus and economies weakened. God has provided through people in their communities and by those able to give from other countries. Almost everyone has cut some programs. Some staff have even taken half pay or no pay in order for schools to continue. But, for now, none have closed and all are full of hope.
In some places, governments changed directions a day or two before class and told schools to not meet in person. In other places, schools have handled government directions to cut tuition changes. Teachers and leaders spend huge amounts of time studying and following rules that change regularly. And, they do this while making learning great and encouraging students and families.
As schools prepared to begin the new term, all of them made multiple plans. Often as they worked to prepare campuses for students to come, they also prepared for distance learning.
While every situation is different, generally schools in Latin America are working online where they can. Schools in Europe are attempting in person classes with changes in how class is done, and dorm life is different too. Asia schools tend to be mixed in approach; one of our schools in south Asia is starting online and a new school in southeast Asia is planning on in person classes. Africa is mixed, but with many stories of students who cannot do online classes either because of a lack of technology or its high cost.
How do we do this?
In all of this, teachers are overflowing in their care and love for their students.
As one example, Belize Christian Academy was preparing new arrangements in rooms for in person classes, but they were ready for online. A sudden shift in rules meant a quick change to online. And not only ready for the infrastructure and technology, but with innovative ideas to help parents who were having trouble. They met with parents to encourage them. They are providing monitored spaces at the building for students who don’t have internet. And, teachers are visiting homes regularly to encourage families with face-to-face interactions. New relationships are growing with families.
Many of our teachers and staff are finding new ways to build relationships, help learners and do transformational education. Some have been blessed using online because it places the teacher in the home. One teacher in Budapest, for example, told about parents listening to daily devotions with students. The teacher got to share the Good News with parents who were listening.
Teachers and school leaders are exploring new ways to live out the end of Psalm 46. “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold.”
We are blessed and thankful that in the middle of worldwide struggles with education, our teachers and schools are resting on the Rock and exalt God. The disruptions have given them fresh ways to show God’s love to their students and families, knowing that, “God has this.”