‘Our preschool abruptly closed. ‘I’ll see you every morning, right here.’ I had to regain my focus, if only for 30 minutes a day.’: Preschool teacher creates virtual safe space for students, ‘Whatever your gift is, beautify the world with it’

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“Friday March 13, 2020 is a time stamp in my life and in the lives of my students. We were notified by our community centers that would be temporarily closing our daycare and preschool programs due to the rising pandemic.

I had been anticipating this, but when the official decision came, floods of emotion, nerves, and worry rushed through my veins. Selfishly, I was worried about financially being supported through this time, and about the health and well being of my family and friends. Equally as heavy, I was thinking how I could possibly continue to connect to my children, my families, and my community during this critical time of need.

Frantically, I took whatever I could from my classroom — books, dry erase board and markers, a stuffed Pete the Cat doll. Was that enough? What if I needed more? How much could I fit in my car?

I grieved for the entire ride that night. I grieved for the unknown of when we would be put back together again. I grieved for the children who, even with a social story, would not completely understand why we would not be seeing each other, for who knows how long.

I could feel my anxiety picking up speed like rapid fire, and honestly, a bit of guilt for feeling so stressed. I am not on the front lines of defense. I do not have children to take care of while balancing work. And I have the ability to be at home and protect others.

The weekend had passed, and after several bouts of tears rising to near panic mode, I took some much needed deep breaths and set my immediate sights on where I could be a helper. Where was my skill set and what did I have to offer? Well, for anyone who knows me, I utilize Facebook for educational purposes and love the community that has grown from it. Aha moment! Circle Time LIVE on Facebook!

I started that Monday morning from my ugly green chair in the corner of the living room, and did what I know best… connect. I welcomed everyone and expressed how grateful I was for this platform, to have everyone together in one space. I talked about feelings in more ways than one, in order to get kids expressing themselves. I sang some songs, read a book, and a half hour later I said, ‘I’ll see you every morning, right here. Now go put something beautiful into the world.’

Courtesy of Rena Rosen

That first video was viewed 687 times. It’s not the amount of views that make me emotional; it’s the commitment to joining me every morning from all parts of the world, and how much of an impact this has:

‘We were having a rough morning, and I insisted we all watch your circle time. It calmed us all down. Thank goodness for you! I’ll be working the next two days, so maybe I’ll have all the nurses tune in again to help with our stress.’

‘Your circle time has been such an important part of our time at home. In fact, it’s the ONLY thing we have scheduled in our day. You’ve helped me think creatively about how to talk about feelings with my young boys. It’s hard to identify the feelings we are all having right now. When you put a color, a sound, or an action to your feelings, it has helped us use those strategies to share more of what we are feeling. It also gives me a momentary break in the morning — every parent needs those breaks right now! We are so grateful you have become part of our new normal and look forward to one day giving you a big thank you hug in person.’

‘We schedule our day around circle time, so thank you for being so incredible and loving to our children! We are the lucky ones.’

Courtesy of Rena Rosen
Courtesy of Rena Rosen

So while I continue to empathize with the entire world, find joy in videos, zoom calls, and Face-times with friends, I allow myself to feel each and every emotion that comes with this roller coaster.

Come each morning, I get up and I regain my focus on where I need to put my energy. If only for 30 minutes, I gift the world a circle, and they gift me back my world. So thank YOU.

Whatever your gift is, no matter how small, beautify the world with it. From near and far, your purpose has so much more power than ever before.

That first Monday I get to go back to work and see my kids and coworkers, will be the book end to a moment in history I will certainly never forget. Until then, stay healthy, stay safe, and be kind.

Your Preschool Teacher.”

Courtesy of Rena Rosen

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rena Rosen. You can follow her on Facebook and join her Circle Time on Mondays at 9:30 a.m. CST. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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