A Letter to Teachers New to Distance Learning

To all you hard working, dedicated, making-it-happen teachers:

Dear fellow teachers,

If you are reading this, then you are among the elite. You are the hero that runs toward the fire and not away. Nothing in your training has quite prepared you for what we are facing right now, an unprecedented scenario in our era. Yet here you are. As great teachers always do, you’re searching for answers and working on a plan to make the impossible possible.

Our kids need you and your expertise now more than ever. Learning and the sharing of knowledge must not be stifled by the unfortunate circumstances that we find ourselves in today.

But where do you begin? How can you teach a class that is absent indefinitely?

Here are a few things that I hope you’ll keep in mind as you begin to formulate a plan for the months to come.

Reminder #1: Do everything that you can to help your students learn in this unconventional environment, BUT, don’t do what you can’t.

Our students are as diverse as our great country. Some have access to all the technology available, and some don’t. Some have parents that will sit with them and work through every problem, and some do not. No one knows your individual students better than you. When creating lesson plans for at-home learning, know that all you can do is the best that you can do. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to try and do everything. There is no magic formula that will translate perfectly for all students. You must embrace the truth that your best effort is sufficient.

Reminder #2: Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.

Yes, everyday life has been turned upside down and inside out. Things are NOT running as planned. But that doesn’t mean you have to scrap your plans and experiences and start over. You have already spent countless hours carefully crafting a path for your students to be successful. Stay on that path. Will you have to modify and get creative with how you present your lessons? Surely. But it’s not necessary to devise an entirely new path altogether.

Reminder #3: Lean on Your Team

Social distancing is the newest buzzword of the day. But that doesn’t mean we should stop sharing ideas and collaborating. Great things happen when people work together to achieve a common goal. You have already been working closely with your team members. Continue to bounce ideas and creativity between one another. Learn what is working and what is not. Together, you will be much more successful reaching and teaching your students than what you would be trying to do everything on your own. 

Reminder #4: Embrace these times by focusing on the positives

“Consider how much you are going to learn as an educator through this process!”

The best teacher I know said this recently in her tips for distance learning blog post.

While we are definitely feeling confused, scared, and overwhelmed, we are also being forced to do things that we may have not had the courage to try otherwise.  Using technology to help teach students has countless benefits. Use this time to try out something new.  You’ll find some things that work and some things that are a big flop. Embrace the flops, tweak your strategies, and try again.  The power of positivity is a great force.  If you can manage to get excited about the good things that can come from this situation, the bad things won’t feel so bad.

Reminder #5: Enjoy Teaching Your Own Children

My kids are pretty grown now.  My baby is a junior in high school, and I don’t think I could help her with her work if I wanted to. But, thousands of teachers across America are getting the rare opportunity to teach their own children.  Treasure this time.  Pull out your fun teaching games, your favorite story books, that recipe that requires math, and your most energetic teacher-self to make memories that will last for a lifetime. Try to avoid watching the news, scrolling through Facebook, and being preoccupied with all the scary stuff going on.  Normally our lives are dedicated to other people’s kids.  This situation is giving us the rare opportunity to focus on our own kids’ education.  Enjoy every moment.

My reminders...

Although my reminders seem simple, they are the most important things to remember throughout these times.  They are the things that will remain when the crisis is over.

I know you’ll overcome all this,  and before long, you’ll be looking back on these times thankful for the things you learned and accomplished.

Until then, wash your hands and don’t touch your face.

Your teacher friend,

 

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