Before I start, I want to commend you for everything you have endured over the past few weeks. Whether you feel like you’ve handled it in stride, have not been coping well, are working hard to find a balance or feeling completely out of balance, had some productive days or felt lazy almost every day, you have made to this point. Please realize how important it is that you’ve made it to the part of the journey where you are willing to read some advice from a fellow educator who has experienced all the highs and lows just like you. <3 Here’s a couple of things that have worked well for me so far.
I am super jealous of all the people saying their house has never been so clean. Or the ones that have completely de-cluttered all of their closets, cabinets and drawers. That is not me right now. And, no matter how long we are stuck at home, that will likely never be me. #typeb
But what I have managed to do is organize my physical work space and develop a to-do list that I’ve found success in for the time being.
Having a semi-separate work space is keeping me physically and mentally organized. And while I haven’t used much of the materials I brought home from school, just having them close by creates a level of comfort I can’t really describe.
When we were allowed to get into school, I made sure to grab books, a dry erase board and markers, and some things to entertain my own children at home (ages 2 and 4) like Playdoh, since all of ours has dried out. I also brought home this 6 cube organizer that was in my classroom library. I will be moving out of my classroom next year, anyways, as I transition into my new role as a reading specialist so I needed to bring some furniture home.
I also created and shared this to-do list that has worked really well to organize each day and week. Adding more tasks to the beginning of the week and a few blanks towards the end gives me the flexibility to rearrange what I don’t get to. Six things each day seems to be the perfect number for feeling productive but not overwhelmed. You can grab a copy of this weekly to-do list here.
This is so tricky but the number one complaint I have heard from my parent-friends during this time is either a lack of or too much communication. Parents are having a tough time staying on top of a lot of emails often with conflicting information (and boy, can we relate as teachers!). You have to take into consideration how communication heavy your district has been. If your district’s anything like mine, there have been daily phone calls and emails (sometimes more than one a day) for parents and teachers. This is overwhelming! Help parents distinguish the most important points through a daily bulletin. I find it helps me stay consistent and concise with communicating important information and learning opportunities.
On the other end, maybe your district is staying silent until they have all their ducks in a row. Balance your level of communication and try to stick to one daily announcement. Within that daily announcement, I always remind parents that I am here if they have any additional questions. If I get a frequently asked question, I include that information in the next day’s bulletin.
Again, depending on your district, we have a wide range of requirements and responsibilities at this time. But, one thing that always works well for engaging students is offering some choice in what they are doing. This will help motivate learning at home and provide student ownership over their work. Our 2nd grade team created a choice board for ELA, Math, Word Work and Science/Social Studies. Students are to choose 1 activity from each board per day. They are a mix of online and offline activities.
These 2nd grade choice boards and recommended learning schedule are FREE in my TpT store. There is also one for 1st and 3rd grade. Click here.
Take a Break
If your district is not requiring work to be completed/graded, then do not stress yourself out over making sure everyone is working on school work every day. Including you!
We all need a breather. Take time each school day to step away from the computer and:
eat some lunch
make a phone call to a friend or family member
read for pleasure for 15 minutes
work on a puzzle
have some dessert
lay in bed and concentrate on your breathing
go for a walk
do some stretches
It’s so cliche but, if you aren’t taking care of you, you can’t be the best for those around you.
Have some Fun
Make time for laughter and connection with your students, colleagues, family and friends. I know this seems difficult with social distancing but meeting through a virtual chat platform has been so helpful! My school friends have had a game night and trivia night via Zoom. I met with my students informally on Zoom just to catch up and next time we will do one of the activities below! If you’d like to know more about these ideas, check out my resource!
I realize some districts are banning teachers from using Zoom for different reasons. But, hopefully, they will provide alternative methods to reaching your students. These activities can really be adapted to any video chat platform! Learn more about how I plan to use these with my students.
Whatever you do during this time, please know that you are not alone, your worth does not rely on your ability to create the most magical distance learning experience, you are doing your best and that’s all that anyone can ask. <3
Best resource I have EVER bought! Teachers in upper grades always made comments about students struggling with their facts, so I was determined to find a way to help with that. This resource makes knowing math facts fun and students love to achieve their goals! Would recommend this to EVERYONE!
What an amazing resource! I love that students have a checklist and some ideas to help them with writing. My favorite part is the space included for teacher notes. I can jump right in while they're working on their writing and leave feedback. I am recommending this product to all of my second grade teacher friends.