As I sit to write this blog post, I have learned, courtesy of Google, that it has been 410 days since our world has been turned upside down in all senses. More specifically, my world in the realm of education has shifted like I would have never imagined!
March 2020 brought us into unprecedented times – and with unprecedented times came unprecedented planning in the world of education and Distance Learning.
We crawled our way through March and April of 2020, quickly learning what worked and did not work in the daily slog of online classes, asynchronous learning and general edtech bafflement.
One thing that I was grateful to be able to rely heavily on was my use of Buncee in the classroom.
Not only that, but being able to rely on the strength and support of both the Buncee Team and the entire #BunceeFam of users and ambassadors was a crucial component of my teaching (and learning).
The month of May rolled around and I could see that my colleagues and I were struggling, exhausted and wondering how we could cross that finish line in June. Nerves were frayed, and educators, students, and parents were dismayed. “That’s it!”, I thought to myself. “We need a bolt of positivity in our lives!”
So began my quest to make some of my colleagues smile with some kind words and sweet surprises.
I challenged all my students to think of a teacher, any teacher, throughout their educational journey, that had made an impact on them, a difference in their lives.
I asked them to write to that teacher they had in mind…most did so on Buncee. Some made hand-written letters and/or drew pictures.
They emailed me all their creations and I set to work on sharing them out with my colleagues. Some were people that I work directly with in Westerly Middle School. Some were district colleagues, whom I was acquainted with, or in some cases did not know at all!
Once I had their letters, I sent them on with an email that went something along the lines of this:
“Hi there Suzanne!
I know we don’t really know one another but it turns out we have a pretty amazing student in common!
My assignment for today was to write a letter to a teacher who made an impact on your life.
Here is a special note for you from S.
Needless to say, there were some sweet surprises in some teachers’ inboxes, and their replies to me made the effort so much worth it!
Thank you so much for sending this to me! This made my day and put a smile on a very tired face! :)
Please tell J that I loved it and I miss her, too!
I hope all is well with you and your family!
Take good care and stay safe!”
This was another really special reply:
I have been soooo sick for the last few days, but upon my “re-entry” to the world outside my bedroom this morning, I found this heartwarming surprise. I can’t tell you how much this means to me! Please let our sweet D know how much it touched my heart. I still love him to the moon and back!
I can’t thank you enough!”
I did face a roadblock or two, such as trying to track someone down who no longer teaches in our district. But when I received this sweet note from one of my amazing students, I knew I had to pull out all the stops to get this letter delivered!
“Dear Mrs. Koulbanis,
I wrote my letter to my former State Street teacher, except I’m not sure if she is still currently teaching. I know as of last year, she had been teaching in Providence (I think grades 3-5?). I’m not sure if this is an issue, but if you are unable to send this to her, just effort is enough for me.
Luckily for me, I am friends with the principal at that same elementary school, and she was more than willing to assist in the challenge! It was a wonderful surprise for her, and further validation that this assignment was worth the effort!
This was such an incredible surprise to receive! Doing well, teaching 4th in East Providence…. I still think of State Street and the wonderful experience I had teaching there.
Please give L my best… she was always such a wonderful student and I am honored that she thought of me this week. It really brings such a smile to my face.
I hope all is well with you and your family!
So, in honor of every educator out there, please know that you are making a difference, no matter what! You might not always feel it, or be told it, but it’s true! In the words of the great Maya Angelou…“people may not remember exactly what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel!”
I’ve clipped and stitched all the Buncees together into a single Buncee here, so you can get inspired too!
Meet the Author
Íde Koulbanis teaches World Languages (French & World Cultures) to amazing students at Westerly Middle School in Westerly, RI. Westerly has been her home for 20 years now, and she enjoys life with her husband, Jamie and two children, Erin and John. When not teaching, you will most likely find Íde hanging out and having fun with family and friends! You can follow Íde on Twitter at @imkoulbanis