We are experiencing a pandemic.  As I write these words, the present state of our world still feels so surreal.  So much changed so quickly that the wave of emotions that accompany something of this magnitude fluctuate…and that is okay.  I found so much comfort recently in a podcast by Angela Watson.  If you haven’t read her book, “Fewer Things, Better” it’s a definite must read for all teachers!  Her recent “Truth for Teachers” podcast was so reassuring and calming.  In her special episode, she talks about 5 calming reminders about what matters most during pandemic panic and school closures.  I have taken key points straight from her podcast and applied them in order to come up with a few actionable steps.  One thing that Angela says is “expecting to maintain normal productivity levels is not realistic.  We cannot put our normal expectations on ourselves or our school.”  I thought this was incredibly freeing when I heard this.

Switching to E-Learning/Distance or Remote Learning

So many of you have made or may make the monumental switch to e-learning. Like so many, you may not be trained in this area or you or your students may have limited resources.  I think setting expectations in the beginning is key.  Be honest.  Let your parents know that this will be a learning process you’re going to go through TOGETHER and that you will be there to help support them as much as you can.  Reassure them that if they can do a little one day, none the next, and a bunch later in the week that it’s OKAY.

Keeping it Simple

I think it’s highly likely that as teachers, when you heard the news of a new trajectory of learning your mind jumped to a million creative ideas, questions, and webinars on tele-services.  Whether you are mandated by your district to use certain programs or create specific resources, the best thing to do is keep it SIMPLE.  In Angela’s podcast she talks about how we have to be mindful of the situations that families may be in currently (and our own!).  Parents may still be reeling with financial obligations, being laid off from work, scrambling to find daycare, and older children may have taken over the responsibilities caring for their younger siblings.  As the weeks go on you can gradually add on more and try new things once you see what works for you and your families.  You do not have to do it all at once or compare yourself to others.

What I’ve been doing/plan to do

We just received word that our schools will extend closure for another four weeks.  While I am not sure what is expected of me at this time, I do have a few ideas that I have been collecting from others.  First, have you seen The Autism Helper’s AMAZING emergency homeschool kit? If not, check it out hereThere is already an abundance of webinars and ideas swirling around out there and it can be hard to pinpoint and process everything.  You have to do what’s best for YOUR families.  Don’t worry if you’re not engaging in heavy amounts of Zoom calls or haven’t been able to make home bags because you’re not even allowed in your building.  When we left two weeks ago the only thing I grabbed was my data binder and my bookbag, so I am quite limited on my supplies at home.  This might prove to be helpful when being cognizant of families with limited resources when planning.  Here are the steps I’ve taken so far and plans for the future:

 

  1. Reach out to parents via Class Dojo or whatever communication system you have been using. I have already made several lighthearted videos of myself and even took my class on a virtual field trip to my husband’s sand pit to look at the equipment.  I have gotten so much positive feedback from parents that their kids were so excited to see me on the screen!  I plan on doing a weekly field trip whether it’s in my backyard or a fun activity in my house such as cooking or a visual recipe.  I’ve been using The Autism Helper homework packets with my kids and I have had a few send me some portfolio reviews through Dojo!

2.  I teach three-year-old littles. I think when we think about parents transitioning to facilitating home education, we need to be realistic about expectations. There is no way they are going to be able to pump out the same routine daily.  And that’s OKAY!  I do plan on offering this schedule that I found on Khan Kids.  I also found this neat early childhood domains schedule routine from Teach.Love.Sped.PreK that I will modify to my class needs.

  1. I also plan on creating a short circle time list with links that we use daily. Many teachers have already made some really cool interactive google slides lessons.  Here is a link to creating your own here.
  2. Language lessons using core. Until I can get back to school (if that’s even an option) I will be taking a picture of a core board I have at home.  Parents can screen shot it and either print or just have it available so that all kids can access what we are doing and reinforce language. 

 

I love the online community of teachers.  We will get through this together and try not to panic when new things are thrown your way.  You are doing the best you can, I know that for sure!  More to come when I begin my next journey with this!  Happy Teaching, IT WILL BE OKAY!

Gina Russell, B.S , M.Ed
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