Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Public education as we know it has ground to a halt and we have been given the opportunity to consider what education really is as we move forward in our digital classrooms. We are in the perfect position to think about how and why and when and what we learn best.
I’ve wanted to try yoga for a long time. I have a friend who is passionate about yoga. She’s never pushed it on me, patiently waiting for me to get up my courage to join a class and give it a try. Now that going to a class is no longer an option, and now that time has opened up in unexpected ways, she has given me the nudge I need to learn on my own. She gave me some extra yoga gear she and her husband had accumulated. Now I have a mat, a block, a bolster, and a link to an article with the “essential yoga poses for beginners.” My friend is not going to be my yoga teacher, but she has paved a path so that I can learn yoga on my own. How will I be that kind of supportive teacher in my digital classroom, giving just the right nudges at just the right time?
While others around me were making great strides cleaning their homes, I decided to brush up on my German, and I signed up for DuoLingo. I set one notification as a reminder for me to work on the site or the app a little bit every day. In the week I’ve been practicing, I’ve only missed one day. Each lesson starts easy and progresses slowly with a variety of practice. Built into the program are regular cheers and fanfares (auditory as well as visual) to encourage me along and validate my efforts. How will I build personal goal setting and scaffolded learning into my digital classroom? How will I cheer on every effort from students?
Every April I tackle my yearly National Poetry Month Poem-a-Day project. In the past few years, I have written poems using tools designed to spark creativity, poems all in the same form, and biographical poems about a little-known folk singer. The only thing that feels right for this year are poems for my students that focus on all the positives that are emerging in this scary, unpredictable time. I want to do good in their world with my words. How will I encourage my students to see beyond themselves and reach out to others with their gifts of creativity and joy?
What is education when there is no building or physical classroom, no teacher standing before or sitting crisscross applesauce with a group of students? We are a randomly selected group of humans who, through our work together, have become a family, a team, a flock, a crew. Although they are now digital, we hold most tightly to the emotional connections that bind us. Now more than ever the teacher functions as the lead learner in their class: the model of self-discipline in goal setting, of self-direction in following a passion, of an other-oriented creator who seeks to do whatever good they can in this topsy-turvy world.
This week we look at grappling with the gamut of emotions that remote learning brings. Plus more as always—enjoy.
Mary Lee Hahn
Contributor, Choice Literacy
You can read Mary Lee Hahn’s daily poems for her students at the blog she shares with Franki Sibberson, A Year of Reading.
Katherine Sokolowski misses her students. Don’t we all? She writes about the feelings provoked by the “new normal” of our professional lives, as well as how she still manages to connect with each student and build her classroom community.
Cathy Mere shares how having so many new resources for remote learning and so much time to explore them can lead to educators putting too much time and psychic energy into the internet.
There are so many beautiful pieces of art from writers, illustrators and musicians being added to the web daily to lift everyone’s spirits as we hunker down at home. The Rotterdam Orchestra’s rendition of Ode to Joy is just one example of this poignant and inspiring work.
Are you coaching teachers remotely? We are developing a series of low-cost courses to help in this work, all led by Ruth Ayres. The first course, Coaching Groups of Teachers Remotely, is available now for a cost of $39. The course fee includes two months of access to the entire Choice Literacy library of 4000 articles and videos. If you have a current paid subscription to Choice Literacy, there is no charge for the course. Click here for details.
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One of the feelings many teachers share is frustration at the inequities among students. Many students would love to participate in video conferences and post work online, but they have no equipment or internet access at home. Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain how they create paper packets that include meaningful, workshop-based activities.
Mandy Robek has a daughter who struggles with worry. Her experiences in assisting her child help her understand what her young students may be going through at home, overwhelmed with fear and the unknown. This week she shares a booklist of children’s literature to help students cope. This is the first installment in a three-part series of booklists for dealing with emotions in these troubling times.
In an encore video, Katrina Edwards reads aloud a Kate Messner mentor text to build an anchor chart on emotions with her first graders.
Jen Schwanke considers how the rush to absorb and master new remote teaching techniques and materials can make teachers weirdly competitive and provoke insecurity. She lists strategies for staying calm and purposeful in this unknown terrain.
Make sure a laundry basket isn’t behind you when you’re doing a remote coaching video is just one practical and fun tip from Heather Fisher. She cheerfully explores how teachers and coaches can stay positive as they learn the ropes of virtual instruction.
Naming an emotion is the starting point of getting some control over it. Scott Berinato explains why the emotion many of us are feeling now is grief, and how we can begin to manage it.
We’ve created a new tool to help you adapt PD2Go videos and workshop guides for use in remote professional development settings. You can click on this link to download the PDF.
Finally, a reminder that our new remote coaching course from Ruth Ayres is FREE to our paid subscribers. If you have a current paid subscription and would like to enroll, just respond to this newsletter and let us know the email address used for your membership. We’ll get you enrolled within a day.
Joy is not a luxury. Joy is a courageous act in a world of pain and suffering.
That’s all for this week!