Before we begin, let’s take a beat.
Breathe in through the nose.
Let it fill you with energy.
Slowly exhale, breathing out through the mouth.
Okay. Let’s go.
Today is day two of remote learning for many, and for many, this day was preceded and followed by announcements from municipalities, especially in Texas, with “Stay Home, Work Safe” orders which set off another wave of panic and uncertainty. Needless to say, our efforts at being present in the learning is scattershot, at best. At least, I know it is for me, and I consider myself to be a damn good teacher and technologically savvy.
As an instructional coach, I have been providing support to teachers since last Thursday when the call came down the shift was taking place. In these short few days, I’ve gleaned a few bits of wisdom from both interactions with fellow teachers and administration.
- Allow space for the learning to happen: The way we do this is by focusing on the learning process and the feedback cycle as students move towards mastery. This also means bye-bye to traditional “grades” (which I’ve never been a fan of anyway). We have an opportunity to teach as we’ve always wanted now that the state standardized test requirements are waived, so focus on giving productive feedback to measure learning, not a numerical value.
- Give up control: You can’t micromanage this process. You will have to give up control. Teachers, you can’t expect students to adhere to strict due dates. Administrations, you can’t expect teachers, especially those with young children, to adhere to strict schedules and traditional “hours of operation”.
- Try something new: This is kind of a no-brainer as it is all new. However, we are in a watershed moment, fellow educators. This will forever change the face of education. We are either willing to get with the 21st-century, or the 21st-century, our schools, and our students will get on without us. Take the time to learn the technology we’re being asked to use to provide high-quality remote instruction because they’re not going away. (gasp I think this means worksheets are finally dead!)
- Remember to breathe: At the end of the day, the week, or quarantine, the major thing we provide is a sense of normalcy, a sense of safety, and there is nothing in education that measures the impact this has.
Is it going to be easy? In a word — no. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be hard and riddled with potential pitfalls that fray our nerves. I mean, it’s downright scary, if you think about it, but it always is when you stand on the edge of an unexplored frontier. However, if we allow opportunities for growth, if we give up the urge to monitor every moment, if we learn from trying different things, and if we just remember to pause and breathe, we will see that that fear can be excitement — if we only let it be.