A Word for Teachers

Dear Auspicious Teacher,                                                                                                                     

We didn’t see this one coming, did we? The committees who worked to organize one-to-one formatting for schools, to solidify the eLearning plans, and to inform the stakeholders didn’t realize that their research would lay the groundwork for our response to a pandemic’s shut down of the educational system. My heart was first broken for the students, so I wrote them a letter. Then, I could see the parents working so hard to make the “next few weeks” work well; I wrote them a letter, too. After a week of online instruction with my own students and listening to stories from friends both near and far, I need to share a thought with my fellow teachers. One word. Simplify.

I know that you love to learn, and I do, too. The new technology that we have all been forced to not only incorporate, but also use as the basis for our classroom processes is a challenge, and I can see you all meeting the challenge in amazing ways. We teachers are moving lessons to Zoom and Google Meet rooms. We are using software that companies have placed in our hands as free resources for us and our students. We are making packets, creating slide shows, sharing our screens, opening conversation threads, writing new content, and possibly, rekindling a fire for creativity and excitement that we haven’t felt in a long time. We are experiencing a new sense of appreciation as many parents and public figures are openly thanking us for our work. It’s good to be recognized, right? Still. Simplify.

You have your own family to love and support during this time. Please, get your nose out of the book and the screen to go cook and play and paint with them. I know how you feel about your students. I am fiercely protective of mine, too; however, look at the faces of the ones in your home. Have no regrets when this is over. Just like you are telling your students and their parents to have a routine and plan times for each event during the day, you should do the same. We are used to taking home HOURS of work each night and weekend, but now isn’t the time to spend locked away planning or grading. (I’m talking to myself here, too, guys.) Set your schedule and follow it, including a time to put down the pencil and close the laptop. Simplify.

Also, I urge you to realize that as we all are learning new skills and trying new and exciting methods, we can’t let our students become our test subjects. Whether you are planning all the topics for your 28 elementary kids or planning your four preps for your 128 high schoolers, dial back the amount of work. I’ve heard many stories in the last week of kids working several hours a day just to keep up with all the work being assigned. Our students deserve better than that. We must remember their mental stress load as much as we remember our own. Get to the heart of your fourth quarter plans and focus on those basic concepts. Introduce new content if you must but slow down your pacing. No students should be working on the same class for several hours every day. Simplify.

You and I both love our students. No doubt. We both also love learning and the buzz we feel from creating good content for our kids. Just remember to go slowly to keep from overwhelming your students and yourself.

Simplify.

Blessings to you, my friends.

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