So, eleven school days in and we are home for three. This isn’t COVID-related, it’s the combination of (was a hurricane) Marcos and Hurricane Laura heading our way. First, let me say how AMAZING it is to be where you can actually stay home and safe in the case of dangerous weather. I’m very grateful for that!
Are we missing out? Is this a terrible thing? Will be able to “get back in the groove?” Honestly, I have no idea. But what I have seen so far is this: If I think it isn’t going to go well, it’s already over.
As a whole we educators are evaluators. We have been trained that way. We replay every lesson, every interaction, every assignment, ever assessment. We evaluate before it happens, while it’s happening and for a long time after. I’m no longer sure that is in our best interest.
It has allowed us to develop this good or bad syndrome. Either we were good, or we were bad. Either the lesson was good or the lesson was bad. Either the students were good or the students were bad. Either the scores were good or the scores were bad.
I don’t think that type of thinking gets us anywhere.
Part of it has to do with the SWBAT (Students will be able to) Lesson objectives we’ve been asked to write for nearly 50 years. The truth is that students will not be able to do much after one lesson! Nor should they be expected to!! After a unit? Maybe. After a marking period? Sure. After 40 minutes? Nope.
So write it if you have to, but don’t believe it. Particularly now. Right now here is what we can hope for…and there are no guarantees:
Spoiler alert….this may be depressing, but hopefully it will help you to connect with the second part of the post!
If you are teaching remotely:
- Students will be able to access our lesson at some point in time.
This in itself could be a 10 step process depending on their home situation, the internet situation, the school’s internet situation and the functionality of the SLP we are required to use.
- Students will be able to follow the directions.
This is difficult even when we are there in person to walk around and assist.
- Students will have the time to attempt the lesson/assignment.
We have no control over that and no right to expect that parents can manage it. If you are a parent, particularly a single parent, you know what I mean.
- Students will have enough interest in the topic to attempt the lesson/assignment.
Let’s face it…..sometimes we are required to teach things that just aren’t all that thrilling to our students!
- Students will have the confidence to attempt the lesson/assignment.
Whether or not we like it, our students worry about being able to do things right. Many of them believe they need a great deal of support. Many of them do.
- Students will be able to turn in the assignment.
Again, this is not always easy or clear and each teacher has his/her own way of receiving assignments. As an adult, I have trouble remembering passwords. Is it any surprise that our students can’t remember the different expectations of each teacher?
- Students will believe that there is enough benefit to our lesson/assignment that Steps 1-6 are worth working through.
This, really, is where the rubber meets the road. Students are not stupid. If we can’t produce lessons that really do something, we are out of luck.
But wait Laurie, didn’t you just say that 40 minutes is too short to get students to “be able to” do anything? How can I get them to see a benefit of anything then?
By letting them know how much you care about them as people, and as students.
I’ve been saying that for a long time, but it is clear that this is the time to focus on it. I’ve seen many posts titled “Community First, Curriculum Second” or something similar. GOOD!!!!!! Keep ‘em coming!! Let’s be an incoming wave of humanity this year!! Read every one that comes at you to find out which ideas and activities will work for you and your students.
As you read the ideas and suggestions, keep these things in mind:
- Your time and energy are valuable. If it involves giving up your mind, heart, body, soul or bank account, don’t do it.
- Comparison is not just the thief of joy, it’s the thief of sanity. DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER TEACHERS!!! (See upcoming post on this later this week.)
- Make access to your information as simple and foolproof as possible. Don’t worry about “babying” students right now. Life is already giving us all challenges. If we want them to see our stuff, we have to make it super-easy to find.
- Require the minimum amount of work acceptable by your school or institution. You can always OFFER more, but require the minimum.
- Hold students accountable in the easiest ways possible. Students who will cheat, will cheat. Students who will game the system, will game the system. You can worry about that later. Not now.
- Now here is the fun part: Make it as much about them as possible!! Take a lot of polls using Google forms or any other system that works for you. They are GREAT low-pressure and interesting reading activities. For novices, ask a lot of either/or questions. You will learn a ton about your students and they get in a lot of reading!
- Use the response to create readings or slide shows. (See upcoming post for more ideas.) They don’t have to be long. They don’t have to violate anyone’s privacy. Yet, they will be personalized and interesting to your students.
- If you know how to record yourself, consider reading the pieces and recording it so that students can see and hear the text at the same time. Voices are very powerful and hearing your voice will light up their brains!
- Schedule announcements or emails to go to students daily. Short ones! That aren’t an assignment! I love sending memes and pictures. These say, “I’m thinking about you.” They say “Life is hard, here is a smile.” They say, “Hope to see you soon.”
- Don’t be afraid to share stories and pictures about your own life from time to time.
- The quality is about the content, not the length or the difficulty.
Maybe you already have all of this figured out. Hugs if you do!!!!!
Just remember, right now there is no good vs bad. There is kind (to myself and others) versus unkind (to myself and others). This is a time to focus on what we can do and what we appreciate…..even if it seems small. I promise you, it will make a big difference.