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Be Not Afraid: Lessons through eLearning

Monday, April 13, 2020 by Francesca Varga

Be Not Afraid - Higher-Powered Learning

Did you know that the phrase “Be not afraid” is used in the Bible 365 times? Talk about a daily message from God! Fear is a great divider. It causes distance between people. It blocks grace from flowing freely and prevents ingenuity. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

It is unrealistic during these times to never feel afraid, but I urge you to allow your faith to be bigger than your fear and to look for the things that are more important than fear.

Here are three truths that God has affirmed for me during these past few weeks. These truths inspire me to work for “something more important than fear.”

Teachers are Super Heroes

Be Not AfraidI am biased when it comes to teachers and school leaders. My bias is reaffirmed when I look at the sheer brilliance coming from educators. Teachers and leaders were tasked with redesigning our traditional school system overnight (literally!) and have risen to the challenge.

Our Higher-Powered Learning teachers in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis provide daily inspiration. They teach different levels and different content, but they share one commonality–they love their students. In all the conversations I have had with teachers and leaders, no one has complained. When I ask, “How are you doing?” the response is always, “I’m fine, but I’m worried about _____ student,” or “I need to figure out how to connect with ______ to ensure they are understanding the material.” They are working around the clock to ensure their content is accessible and engaging. Most importantly, they are finding ways to connect with their students to remind them how much they are loved.

Teachers could have buckled under the pressure and done the bare minimum for students, but they have gone above and beyond for their students. If you know any teachers, or you have a school-aged child at home, take a moment and send a quick thank-you email. Small, kind gestures go a long way, especially during stressful times.

Blended Learning Works!

In the words of our wonderful director, Fr. Nate, “Blended learning is the great amplifier. It amplifies poor instructional practices and, more importantly, magnifies exemplary teaching.” Good teachers throughout the nation are finding innovative ways to meaningfully use technology to not only deliver instruction to students but to personalize instruction.

Teachers have become innovators. They have created engaging lessons using a variety of free apps and resources and figured out ways to connect with students virtually. They are using Zoom, Google Hangouts, and more, to keep in constant communication with families. Our team created an eLearning Guide to support all educators innovating through these times. Blended learning, when done thoughtfully and in conjunction with great pedagogical practices, really works!

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work! 

My six-year-old constantly reminds me that “Teamwork makes the dream work!” Although times have changed, and I miss seeing my fantastic colleagues in the office, we have found different ways to stay connected. I really appreciate virtual calls and the opportunities to connect in spite of social distancing.

I love the quote, “Social distancing does not mean social isolating.” During these times, find ways to connect to your coworkers, friends, and family. It only takes a few moments to connect and remind people that you care.

I hope this post inspires you to seek the goodness of God during this Easter season. I pray you allow your faith to be bigger than your fear, and that you find daily reasons to smile and inspiration to reach out to others. When all of this settles, we will look back and remember all of the small miracles that happened in our lives.

On a personal note, this will be my last blog entry. These past two years at ACE have been filled with joy, exploration, and personal growth. Although I am going to miss the team and our teachers and leaders dearly, I am so excited about the incredible work coming soon for HPL! This is my farewell for now, but I hope you will stay tuned for rich content and the adventures of my wonderful team in your inbox every other Tuesday. To all of our subscribers to the Higher-Powered Learning blog, thank you for an amazing two years!

About the Author

Francesca Varga

Francesca Varga

Francesca Varga served as the Associate Program Director of Blended Learning for the Higher Powered Learning team and the Alliance for Catholic Education. 

Francesca came to ACE after teaching for nine years from Penn High School where she served as an English teacher, instructional coach, and team leader. Prior to that, she served as a high school English teacher at Schmucker Middle School and Washington High School in South Bend, Indiana, where she focused her practice serving at-risk and underrepresented populations of students.    

Francesca is originally from New Mexico and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame in English and her teaching license from Saint Mary's College. She earned her Master of Education in Curriculum and Design from Indiana Wesleyan University, and her Administrative license through Ball State University.