The best is the enemy of the good.
It’s 2:00 a.m., and like many of you these days, I can’t sleep. The world is changing before my eyes, and the connections I have with colleagues, students, friends, and family are vanishing.
I take out my sketchbook and start designing video lessons. I keep them broad, keep them short, make them relevant, and don’t forget a touch of humor and warmth. I record a video lesson with an iPhone propped up on a cardboard box that leans against a Scrabble dictionary to keep it stable.
I hit play and watch my video. My voice is squeaky, the lighting is sterile, and all I see are the wrinkles on my neck and across my forehead.
I don’t know how to edit a video. I don’t know how to create a YouTube channel. I KNOW my lesson isn’t perfect. Yet I muddle through figuring out how to post a video, and hit publish.
Maybe these lessons will help a couple of kids. Maybe they will inspire a teacher to create her own lessons. Maybe my dogs romping around in the background will make a few people smile. Maybe none of this will happen. It doesn’t matter. My own kids will laugh, and that makes me happy. I can finally fall asleep again.
I wake up and log on to Twitter. There, on the screen, I see online drawing lessons, free read-alouds, collaborative music, and free online PD sessions. There are gifts from educators and children’s book authors everywhere.
There is beauty and hope underneath this tragedy. Your online lessons might not be perfect. Mine certainly aren’t. You know what? They are good enough. Your students need to see your face and hear your voice. Teachers—you are wanted, you are needed, and you matter.
You’ve got this!
This week we look at new resources for remote teaching and coaching. Plus more as always—enjoy.
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Tammy Mulligan co-authored It’s All About the Books and Assessment in Perspective with Clare Landrigan. At work, you can find her teaching and thinking alongside elementary teachers and kids. On other days, she is in her garden, hiking in the woods, or hiding behind a pile of children’s books. Connect with Tammy on Twitter @TammyBMulligan.
If you want to view and use Tammy Mulligan’s free writing lessons for remote learning, you can find them at her website in the Writing Camp section.
Ramona Behnke, a retired teacher from Mercer Island, Washington, has created a Padlet of free remote teaching resources with a strong workshop core. There’s something here for almost any age level or need.
Kristi Mraz has created a wonderful series of lessons to support parents in promoting purposeful play at home. You can access the resources at this link. Please note that Kristi and other education freelancers have lost all their income in this crisis, and are still providing free resources to teachers. When you have the option, please tip them generously at their websites for their 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.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
Bitsy Parks shares how she adapts her favorite first-grade spring literacy project for remote learning.
Jen Schwanke describes some of the most common issues cropping up in remote instruction, from resource inequity to teacher vulnerability. Jen shares suggestions for letting go of the stress and anxiety that is part of instantly learning to teach in new ways.
Consider creating informal discussion groups of favorite authors and enlisting students to participate remotely. Gigl McAllister explains how she hosts optional lunchtime author studies in her classroom, with practical tips on getting started. Her ideas can easily be adapted for remote instruction.
You can view how Gigi McAllister launches one of these author fan groups in this encore video. These students enjoy the work of Kazu Kibuishi, author of the Amulet series. Participation in the group is voluntary.
We know our members have a pressing need for resources to use in remote coaching contexts, as well as in college courses that are now being moved to online platforms. Nothing beats having classroom videos to view together on Zoom or discuss in a Google Hangout. During the COVID-19 crisis, we are opening up more videos for our members to use in remote coaching. You can access these videos at our new Remote Coaching Videos page, with suggestions for how to use the videos for virtual professional development.
Suzy Kaback shares how we can translate the professional values we hold dear into action, even when we have no physical contact and everyone is under great stress.
If you are looking for a good format for discussing readings in remote PD settings, Jean Russell’s 3/3/3 PD protocol can be adapted easily for online group meetings. The format includes quick shots of written reflection and sharing with colleagues.
Tony Schwartz and Emily Pines share wise advice for coping with fatigue, fear, and panic during a crisis.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 contact us and let us know the email address used for your membership. We’ll get you enrolled within a day.Quote It:
We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.
That’s all for this week!