First grade teacher Megan Fitzmorris with her student at the start of the school year. Submitted


BETHEL — Megan Fitzmorris has learned many things from her first graders at Crescent Park Elementary School, but above all she has discovered their capacity for resiliency has been immense since 2020. One Friday they were in school, and then they were remote for the remainder of the year. When the students came back, she says, they were “so excited to get outside. We can have mask breaks and they were willing to get creative with lessons and they were just so happy I think to be at school. So not that I didn’t know that kids are awesome, but just the way that they can rise above a situation … I think they’ve handled it really well for what they’ve been dealt.”

Fitzmorris describes how the pandemic allowed her to teach life lessons that were applicable to what was going on in the world and in the school simultaneously. She explains some of the things she taught which were vital to the students’ well-being but also great life lesson skills.

“I think the hygiene piece is a big one because I don’t always think that we push learning to wash your hands,” describes Fitzmorris. “I think we’re much more aware of those things. I know, as in the classroom, why are we washing our hands? What are we getting rid of? What’s the proper way to wash your hands? I think that makes just a life lesson or making us more aware of making sure we do all of those things. But I also think of just for young kids, it’s kind of a life lesson of learning to adapt to change.”

Fitzmorris decided to use the pandemic and turn it into a life lesson with many of her activities. She’d take her students outside every morning (until it snowed) and read them a story; they’d hike the trails at the school so they could be immersed nature; and they also did yoga in their own space to keep moving. Fitzmorris has yoga cards with animals and nature on them, and she would play calming music, and after yoga, they would always finish by doing nothing to relax their bodies.

“Learning [to] calm our bodies and dealing with any stress that comes our way [is a life lesson too],” she says,”… we just went back and looked at how I could make it fun for them,” she says.


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