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Gamber: Long Live The New Normal

Heart of the Schools / ATB Productions

One of my favorite things about being principal at Bard High School Early College Baltimore is that at our school, administrators are expected to teach. This semester, I'm teaching a college level course on the history of race mixing in America. The class used to meet every day at 2:30, last period for us, so the 27 enrollees tumbled in with all the energy that comes with anticipating the end of a school day,


These days, holding class virtually is a much quieter affair. We talk now over email or in virtual discussions.  It's been five weeks since we've all been together. Like most educators across the state, I miss my students' laughter, humor, and just plain good company.


Since I have more time to reflect now, I've been thinking a lot about what activities, tools, resources, or ideas will remain whenever brick and mortar schools reopen. Every week, my colleagues and I pore over a list of our enrollment. Who have we not heard from? How long has it been? Does this family have what it needs, and if not, what can we do?


It's not that we didn't pay attention to our attendance data before, because we did. But this time, it's different somehow. There's an urgency to being able to account for every single student and, by extension, their families -- to knowing who is sick, who got laid off, who needs food. It's as if, if we can just hold on to them, we have a better chance of everything eventually being all right. 


If this level of attention and individual connection to, and knowledge of, every single student and family in Baltimore City schools becomes our standard operating procedure, I say long live the new normal (at least part of it).


Dr. Francesca Gamber is Principal at Bard High School Early College Baltimore