Riding the Roller Coaster of Emotions: From Reactive to Responsive

By Wendy Baron

Right about now, you may be asking yourself, “When will we ever be able to get back to normal?” Unfortunately, we just don’t know.  And uncertainty about the future is causing many of us to be anxious! According to a recent study of approximately 5,000 educators by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence1, anxiety, stress, and fear are the most frequently felt emotions every day since we began sheltering in place and doing distance learning.

The Stress Response

In this moment, it may seem impossible to be centered and calm. After all, if you are like most of us, you have a zillion new competing demands—figuring out how to best design and facilitate online learning; connecting with students who are struggling and those who are not showing up at all; leading and participating in back-to-back Zoom meetings; and trying to manage all of this with your own children needing your attention for their school work. No wonder we’re anxious and stressed! 

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From our editors: a selection of recently published articles on teaching and learning remotely

TODAY’S LIST OF RESOURCES! And be sure to also take a look at our more extensive list of resources for teaching during COVID-19!

From The Marshall Memo:

Ideas and Resources during the Coronavirus Crisis

From Simone Kern on Edutopia:

Why Learning at Home Should Be More Self-Directed—and Less Structured

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What About Students Who Do Not Have Access to the Tools that Are Needed for Online Learning?

By Katharine Davies Samway

If we have a computer, regular access to the Internet, and a cell phone with unlimited calls and texts, we may forget that our students may not have the same access to these tools, which are essential for online learning.  In some cases, schools surveyed their students about their technological needs before the schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.  In other cases, teachers have had to use time during the school closure to identify students’ needs. 

Teachers I’ve interviewed comment on the importance of surveying students and families in order to determine which technological tools they have access to.  At Laura Alvarez’s K-8 two-way immersion bilingual school, teachers polled their students by phone, text, and email about their access to a computer and the Internet (as well as their access to everyday necessities, such as food).  Alvarez estimated that she spent one-third of her time in the two weeks before spring break calling, texting, and emailing students and their families.  She learned that most have some Internet access via a smartphone, but none of her 8th grade students had solid access to the Internet.  A couple of her students had a cousin or aunt who had a computer, and some had computers at home, but weren’t sure how well they worked.  Recently, the school has been distributing Chromebooks to students who do not have access to computers, using social distancing when doing so.

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Early Learners Need a Home-School Connection

By Cindy Terebush

I recently participated in an online gathering of early learners.  Their teacher was reading a book.  The children, in little boxes on the computer screen, were making faces at each other, pointing, dancing and performing other feats of imagination.  When the session was over, the teacher asked me, “Why am I doing this?  They aren’t listening.”

In other areas where children may have less access to technology, teachers are preparing materials and packets that families can get in the mail or pick up at bus stops.  Numerous teachers have shared with me that they are convinced that it is a futile effort because most families are overwhelmed and not doing the activities.

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Supporting All Learners During Remote Learning

By Kathryn Nieves, a special education teacher at Sparta Middle School in New Jersey

When my school district called me on a Thursday evening, I did not have to answer to know what the message said. I knew it meant we were going into remote learning. As a special education teacher, I worried about IEPs, accommodations, modifications, and, in short, just supporting the emotional needs of my students. Although my students have 1:1 Chromebook devices and experience using them, I knew we still faced many obstacles. The following are tips for supporting all learners that I have discovered throughout my journey (so far) in this uncharted area of education.

Stick with the technology they know first

    As an advocate of educational technology and a Google Trainer, I’m the first person to dive into using a new tool. Even though I was getting almost hourly updates from different edtech companies offering free accounts or trials, I knew this was not the time for me to try out all these tools with my students. For the first few weeks, I kept it consistent. I used tools where my students had a level of comfort and familiarity. Since moving into a fully online platform was new for them, I did not want to add more novelty to the pile until they felt more comfortable.

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Supporting EL Students’ Vocabulary Development While Schools Are Closed

By Katharine Davies Samway, author and Professor Emerita at San José State University in California

Having an extensive vocabulary is very helpful in order to understand, enjoy, and appreciate oral and written language, as well as to succeed in school and the outside world.  Vocabulary is often taught in isolation in a rather boring, uninspiring way for many students—being given ten words to define is one example.  However, vocabulary development can be a very engaging and exciting experience. Word Consciousness is one such approach—it focuses on language in context and an awareness of and love for language (e.g., Graves & Watts-Taffe, 2008; Samway & Taylor, 2009; Scott & Nagy, 2004).

The following word consciousness/vocabulary development activities are very helpful for English learners (ELs), as well as for non-ELs.  Importantly, students who do not have access to a computer and/or the Internet can complete these activities.  I mention this because there has been a lot of talk about the importance of online teaching while students are likely to be out of school for weeks, if not months, during the coronavirus epidemic.  However, many students who are immigrants and/or come from low-income homes do not have access to the Internet or computers that are necessary for online learning to occur. 

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Teaching in the Time of Corona: Supporting Newcomer Students During School Closures

By Laura Alvarez, author, teacher, researcher, and professional development provider

As educators, we currently face an unprecedented challenge: continuing to provide rich learning opportunities when our physical school sites are closed. While most schools are going online, many students do not have internet access or computers at home. These inequities threaten to further exacerbate equity gaps for our students who have historically not been well-served by U.S. schools and who must rely on our educational institutions, including recently arrived immigrant students, or newcomers.

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Do Your Homework: Write Alongside your Students

As we enter a new age of education in the world of COVID 19, I am thinking about how to help my students not only continue with their English literature education, but also to process what they, and we as a nation and a world, are going through right now. Isn’t that why we teach literature and history? To make sense of ourselves and our world? To that end, I assigned a time capsule project. (Thanks here to Karli Hart who generously shared her project worksheet with me and many others through an English teachers Facebook page. I made some changes to her original document to suit my particular students, but it is largely hers.) My students will now write three times per week either about the virus, what’s happening in the world, what’s happening in their homes, how they feel, or what they do to escape thinking about the virus.

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