Okay, okay, okay, I know that teaching this year has been hard. Scratch that. I know that teaching this year has been harder than trying to get dressed with your hands tied behind your back. If you’ve found yourself aimlessly scrolling through Google for distance learning articles and ideas, scraping the bottom of the barrel for inspiration, feeling stuck, isolated, depressed, or worst yet…like throwing in the towel, I want you to know that you’re not alone.
That’s one of the odd things I’ve noticed about teaching during a pandemic. I’m not sure about you, but it has been one of the most singularly isolating experiences of my teaching career.
When I’m teaching remotely from an empty classroom in an empty school where the only human, in-person interaction I get all day is maybe bumping into the janitor in the hallway, I look for glimmers of life on my Google Meet. Who will un-camera themselves today, I wonder. I know students’ avatars more than their faces at this point.
When I’m teaching hybrid in-person and remote concurrently in a socially distanced classroom, the magic just isn’t there, either.
So, what are we to do? We beat on, boats against the current… No? Wrong story?
Okay, how about this? We find solace in online spaces. Spaces where we might come across an article that sparks an idea, a post that resonates with us, an article that shifts our thinking somehow. It makes us feel less alone and more confident to keep moving forward.
In this post, I want to share a few articles that did just this thing for me.
Social Media Laughs & Distance Learning Articles for Teachers
If you’ve been feeling more disconnected than the dial-up internet in the late nineties, these distance learning articles are sure to make you think, make you laugh, make you feel like you are seen.
Reflection on online teaching
This blog post may lift your spirits. Written by a Georgia Tech professor, this post begins with a description of what a normal year feels like. She is able to make all of these wonderful connections with students, go on field trips with them, etc.
This year, she says, she just wasn’t feeling it and dreaded receiving the end of semester evaluations from students. Surprisingly, their responses indicated the opposite of what she felt…they felt cared about and supported.
This led her to ask the question: “Is it possible that remote learning can feel even more personal for the student than in-person instruction does?”
This article shifted my perspective…we are actually in some ways closer to our students this year than during a normal school year by virtue of being on their screens, in their living spaces, in their inboxes.
We have made ourselves replayable by use of voice comments and screencast tutorials. We have reached out via check-in surveys and are trying new ways of connecting with students in online spaces.
This is not lost on students. Whether their cameras are on or not, they know that we are trying. And just because we do not feel connected doesn’t mean that a connection hasn’t been made.
Need a Laugh? Try This…
Aside from the funny memes, I’ve been drawn to teacher vloggers and bloggers who just #getme. And Devin Siebold is one of those teachers. I would encourage you to check out his distance learning series. I also recommend EddieB and every teacher’s favorite principal Gerry Brooks. And, as always, I love the wit and humor (and honesty) of Love, Teach.
What the EdTech Industry Should Know…
This article is interesting to me because it acknowledges the struggle of online learning for students, teachers, and their families. It reminds me that parents are struggling to balance it all and provide support, highlighting three things that schools and families really need: SEL, family engagement, and academic achievement.
First off, it’s easy to feel like WE are the end-all-be-all of a child’s remote learning experience. The reality is, however, that with our classrooms extended into personal space, we must find ways to connect with parents and caregivers. Communication is key during a regular year, but this year more than ever. Yet, I will admit that it has fallen to the wayside as another thing to do.
It’s good to remind ourselves that partnership with families is critical. Without students in front of us where we can control and influence many important variables for student engagement, we risk losing them. That’s where families come in, and we can’t just assume that families know how to support and how to reach out to us.
Is Learning on Zoom the Same as In Person? Not to Your Brain…
Do you find yourself feeling more tired than ever before? Entre vous “Zoom Fatigue” – yet another type of fatigue besetting teachers (and students) this year.
Of all the distance learning articles in this list, this one has shifted my thinking completely… about students having their cameras off. It’s easy to feel like I’m doing something wrong as a teacher or that students are somehow disengaged and disrespectful when they don’t turn on their cameras.
And I get it…we miss our students. We miss the silly banter, the energy, the ability to read facial expressions and body language. This article puts some science behind this. While we surely miss our students, what we really miss are the dopamine and oxytocin that are released as a result of positive interactions.
Yes, my friends, teachers are like addicts this year, just looking for a quick hit of dopamine to keep us feeling like good teachers again.
To sum up my shift in thinking, students shouldn’t be forced to have their cameras on all the time. Their brains need a break…and if we’re so worried about their well-being it could actually be worse for them to be on screen all day.
I hope that you’ve found some food for thought or a good laugh through this post. If you’re feeling isolated, too, hit me up on Instagram or sign-up to receive my weekly newsletter.
Hey, if you loved this post, I want to be sure you’ve had the chance to grab a FREE copy of my guide to streamlined grading. I know how hard it is to do all the things as an English teacher, so I’m over the moon to be able to share with you some of my best strategies for reducing the grading overwhelm.
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