A few years ago, while attending a conference near the middle of the state, I received an email that would change the trajectory of the next few weeks of my life. I was waiting for the keynote speaker to take the stage, and while I waited, I decided to check my email. I hoped to possibly start to get caught up on a days worth of missed emails that would need replies. I didn’t want to spend the evening in my hotel room, returning emails. When I opened my email, I immediately noticed an official email from a federal auditor that had been working with our district. It seems I had made a small but incredibly significant typo in a request for a federal reimbursement, and now a large sum of our district’s federal funds was in jeopardy. Let me explain that I have struggled most of my life with reversing letters and swapping numbers when my stress levels increase. I am usually pretty good about being self-aware of my errors and correcting them before submitting final copies of work. Unfortunately, on this day, I missed one. Instead of dating one of the forms the 21st, I dated the paperwork the 12th. This put most of my paperwork out of order and had the possibility of resulting in the denial of our reimbursement funds. For the next three weeks, I worried and waited as my fate, and perhaps my career, sat in the hands of a federal auditor. If you have ever work with a federal auditor, they are known for being by the book and not always being open to giving individuals very much grace when honest mistakes were made. Fortunately for me, three weeks after the event began and with lots of explaining, agonizing, and apologizing, our reimbursement funds were granted. My mistake was forgiven. I was the benefactor of the gift of grace.
As we hopefully return to school next week, we have talked about making sure we are giving students grace where we can. We understand that every home situation is different, but most students will struggle somehow with the grind of doing school from somewhere other than the classroom. As educators, we must remind ourselves of what life must be like for our students. The standards still need to be high, but grace can’t be left out of the equation.
In the past few weeks, many of our teachers have faced a similar struggle. First, they have dealt with the necessity to learn an entirely new delivery system for instruction. Then, after preparing for this possibility most of the summer, they have spent the last week waiting while our district deals with ransomware’s ripple effects on several district devices and servers. In the end, the best we can do is to extend grace to each other and get through this difficult time the best we can.
Over the past week, I have heard both complaints and understanding about the weeklong closure of school. It is very easy to catch ourselves doom scrolling through social media. Some find this as an appropriate avenue to voice both complaints and concerns. I want to encourage you to look instead for opportunities to give others the gift of grace. Each day, we find ourselves in multiple situations where we have the chance to give grace to those around us. Not only is grace free, but it also benefits both the giver and the receiver. With everything going on in the world around us, the gift of grace is just what many of us need.
“The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances.” – Aristotle