Relationships from the Strangest Year Ever


June 13, 2021 by Dr. Robbie Barber

This post is Week 1 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators. I’ve decided to try again this summer and see how the blogging goes. The prompt for this week is: Describe relationships with those you taught this year.

In some ways, as a high school teacher-librarian, I am very lucky. I get to see the students all the way out of K-12 education. High school, in my opinion, is the last opportunity we (K-12 educators) have to help guide our students to becoming productive members of society. At the end of May, I stood by the rows, wearing a black gown and doctoral hood in 85F heat and 100%humidity, showing the students where to sit as they received their diploma covers. I volunteered to stand in the heat and guide these students once last time. I felt both excited and a little ashamed that in my four years of contact with these students, some showed their maturity helping others with their graduation gowns and others felt free to behave like small children. Still, it was amazing to watch those who stood like the adults they are as they received the diplomas with grace and a smile.

This year, we had students and teachers fully remote for the first semester, teachers in person the second semester, and for the last nine or ten weeks, students choosing to be in person or online for the same classes. I’ve blogged about the challenges this year has brought. Let’s review some of the people who I had the honor and privilege of teaching this year.

I taught the math teacher how to use Google Classroom who turned around and taught me how to make mini-videos and create a YouTube playlist for others.

I taught the IB seniors about research for their IAs, and they turned around (one after another) and told the juniors that Dr. Barber would help them with research, if they only asked.

TigerCon 21

I taught our guests at our virtual TigerCon (our high school ComicCon) how to connect with our students and the result was a wonderful 2 hours of documentaries, talking, exploring, and visiting with the entire school.

I taught other teacher-librarians in the district about writing End of Year Reports and they shared various activities they did, which will only increase my repertoire.

I taught the school’s Salutatorian who called me after graduation to say she had been given a brand new Chromebook from the school district and she wanted to donate it to another graduate. (The amazing post-secondary specialist, who serves several schools, took control and got the device to another graduate at another school.)

Snippet from the Salutorian’s letter to me

I taught the Reading Bowl club how to use Canva to make things and they taught me how to play Among Us.

Student created Canva video to advertise Reading Bowl Club
Snippet from a Reading Bowl member’s letter to me

I taught the staff my commitment to vaccinations by personally purchasing and handing out vaccine card waterproof holders and in return some agreed to get the vaccine, if I felt it was that important. I do.

Vaccine card holders gift to teachers

Never doubt for a minute that we touch more than our assigned students. Whether you are a classroom teacher or a teacher-librarian or another role in the school district, we connect with the student in the hallway, the teacher asking a quick question, and the person who shared their experiences to help us learn. It takes a village.

3 thoughts on “Relationships from the Strangest Year Ever

  1. Pen63 says:

    Hi Robbie, I’m so glad you are taking part in this challenge again! I think the terming of this as the strangest year helps us see the most important things better. The rituals of graduation, the passing on of information of the helpfulness of teachers upperclassmen to lower classmen – all things we may have taken for granted in years past.

    I look forward to reading more about your year – strange or not!


  2. Denise Krebs says:

    Wow, Robbie, what a great post where you have clearly illustrated that you are a teacher and a learner–the best kind of human! The letter snippets from students are so precious. I love that your gift encouraged others to get vaccinated.


  3. […] SY21, the #StrangestYearEver, and used this as the lens to look at everything. I wrote about my relationships with others during the year. This school year (SY22) was referred to as the #HardestYearEver. It’s no exaggeration. Plus, […]


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