The past 8 weeks have taught teachers what it means to be resilient in the face of incredible challenges. We’ve had to figure out how to transfer best teaching practices to an online format, learn the intricacies of online platforms, play the role of tech support for families and students, and carefully select materials and content that students can handle without us sitting beside them.
But as I reflect on the last two months, what stands out is the way we have come together to rally around students and families. The fact that many of our families are in crisis weighs heavily on our minds and hearts. We see our families struggle with the financial and health consequences of this pandemic. We see single parents working 2 jobs who are now faced with managing their young children’s learning. And we see that our students desperately crave connection. This is why we show up for our students and families. We hold tight to our values about what made us become teachers and we move forward compassionately and with open hearts.
In the spirit of Teacher Appreciation Week, we at Lit Coach Connection are devoting this week’s post to celebrating teachers’ heroic efforts during this unprecedented period of distance learning.
Teachers push themselves beyond their comfort zones to show up for students and families .
Teachers reading this, take a minute, grab a notebook or sheet of paper and list all of the things you have taught yourself, figured out, and learned with colleagues in the past 2 months. I bet it fills the page!
Teachers have demonstrated their tremendous dedication as they push beyond their comfort zones in search of ways to show up for their students and support families. I have witnessed teachers, many of whom do not consider themselves tech savvy, do the following:
- Learn how to use Google Meets and experiment with sharing a screen and make meets more secure with nicknames.
- Create and record lessons using Screencastify.
- Spend hours upon hours learning the intricacies of online formats such as Google Classroom, Seesaw and Flipgrid.
- Record hours of read alouds and shared reading experiences.
- Gain sophistication in Google Slides.
- Create weekly newsletters and schedules with live links so that families can easily access online instruction and bring structure to their week.
- Deliver books to students’ doorsteps so that they can engage in book clubs and other meaningful literacy experiences.
- Devote hours and hours to communicating with families; responding to emails and making phone calls.
I find that just when we figure one thing out, we are faced with troubleshooting another. We toggle between what these formats look like for us and what our students and families see. We spend hours communicating with our tech support (also heroes during this time). What strikes me most is that I have seen teachers set aside their discomfort and trepidation to get online and be present for students.
Teachers banding together to support one another
On the day before distance learning began, colleagues and I huddled around a computer trying to figure out how to set up contact groups in GMail. This image has stuck in my mind, for while we are not physically together, teachers continue to band together to navigate and teach one another technology, plan curriculum, and offer moral support.
- Teachers are generously offering their time and energy to planning and executing professional development workshops to support their colleagues in distance learning.
- Grade levels of teachers divide up the planning of subject area materials.
- Special area teachers organize their materials to make for easier distribution and cohesion for students.
- Classroom teachers inviting special area teachers to be surprise guests during class’ Google Meet.
- Teachers are devoting hours to departmental meetings and planning sessions; many taking place on Google Meet with follow up in the form of texts, emails and phone calls.
- And teachers sharing resources, materials, and ideas not only to their building level colleagues but also to the wider educational community online.
While teaching can be a solitary act, any walls or barriers that may have existed, crumbled down during this time of distance learning. It warms my heart to see that when things get tough, we set differences aside and come together for the good of our students. It is no longer my class and yours but OUR students.
We know teachers are heroes. But this challenging time has revealed the depths of teacher dedication and resilience. So teachers, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are with you and wish you time this week to reflect on all that you do and celebrate what we have built in this amazing profession.