Thank You to Teachers for Social and Emotional Learning

By Future Cain

Humans are inherently social creatures, and for most children, school is their first and most important social experience. Few could argue the mental, physical, and emotional well-being that social connections promote, and for children, the relationships developed with peers and teachers at school help fill their need to belong, feel heard, and be seen, loved, and valued. COVID-19 has abruptly changed the nature of these relationships for students nationwide. My own children, like countless others, long to sit next to and talk with a friend, whether it be on the school bus, eating lunch in the cafeteria, or enjoying recess or study hall with their peers. 

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A Principal’s Thank You to Teachers

By Christina Sagnella

Throughout this lockdown, school principals have been tested to keep the spirit of our schools alive, even without our school.  We sit 10, 12, 14 hours on our computers these days, making sure everyone is safe, educated, connected, valued, heard, calmed, challenged, inspired, and loved. This is not just about our students. This is also very much about our staff.

This week, Teacher Appreciation Week, is when we make an extra effort to let our staff know how much we appreciate them and ALL that they do for their students, families, each other, our whole school –even for me! However, this year, I am particularly thankful to my staff for all that they have done to keep school going during the coronavirus pandemic, and all that they continue to do, even now that it’s May.

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Teacher Appreciation Week: Teachers as Treasure Seekers

By Cheri Borchardt

A common scene in many homes these days, during shelter in place, is a family gathered around the TV watching old movies on Netflix. As the wife of a history buff and a mom of a history professor, I am usually outnumbered! True to form, last week our family movie of choice was National Treasure.

The 2004 film National Treasure was a box office hit and remains a favorite of many teachers and students as a movie in the classroom. On the surface, the film appeals to the audience’s desire for adventure, action, and future riches, but on a deeper level, the film teaches us some important lessons about the relationship between teachers and students!

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Teacher Appreciation: How to Say Thanks from a Distance

By Ronnie Eyre

Teacher appreciation week approached us so quickly. March felt like the longest month of the year, and then April came and teachers and students alike were told to start distance learning. These teachers and kids showed up! They proved that they were able to handle working on their academics while still being kids. Teachers made changes to their lessons by creating their own document cameras. They created spaces in their homes for anchor charts and bulletin boards. Teachers pushed themselves harder than they ever have, recognizing that an education is so important and that it must continue even through distance learning, online video chats, and tons of emails. 

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Distance Learning for Students on the Autism Spectrum: Just Keep Swimming

By Barbara Boroson

This spring, life as we knew it was whisked away as abruptly as bottles of hand sanitizer from drugstore shelves, leaving us suspended in a state of frantic disorientation.

As we all struggle to course-correct in these uncharted waters, our students on the autism spectrum are especially off-balance. They tend to be destabilized by unexpected change and deviations from routine. And now, not only are their comfortable routines toppled, but the rules that they cling to in order to feel safe and calm have been tossed aside. Self-constructed rules like The school day starts with a bus ride; without a bus ride, school cannot start, or Teachers teach at school; not at home, can make remote learning a nonstarter for these students.

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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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As National Poetry Month Ends: Some Words of Comfort during a Pandemic

By Brett Vogelsinger, republished with permission from Go Poems.

Since reading a poem is a daily ritual in my class, patterns develop in our poetry selections.  One of those patterns—yes, a pattern students observe in much of the literature we read in English class—is that writers often tackle dense, heavy, depressing topics.  Poetry is no exception.  And I would argue it is important to bring these types of poems to our students.

However, we also live in an age of crushing anxiety, and each year I see more students struggle to maintain their emotional health.  I want to be sure that English class, and particularly a routine that begins our class period most days, does not deliver a daily dose of doom.  Picture the Pavlovian effect of that for a moment:  Bell rings, gloomy poem emerges on the screen, discussion of humanity’s darkest moments ensues. . . what might be the effect of that day after day after day on our students?

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Why Reading Aloud is the Perfect Distance Learning Strategy

By Laurel Schmidt

Teachers seem to have an extraordinary ability to make order out of chaos, particularly when it comes to rounding up dozens of free-range children who are loath to give up their freedom.  They plunge in where others fear to tread and the next thing you know, they’re presiding over a group of kids who are seated, listening and more or less ready to work. But this is a much bigger challenge when your students are somewhere out in cyberspace. So, what can you do to ensure that they’ll show up on time, be riveted from the first minute and eager to return for the next session?

Read aloud. That’s right. Open a book and start reading in your most spellbinding voice. Don’t hold back. Ham it up! Trot out some of those voices you only use in the privacy of your own head.

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Proactively Building a Rapid Response Team

By Debbie Zacarian

On April 7, 2020, White House pandemic advisor, Dr. Fauci, stated that the pandemic “shine(s) a very bright light on some of the real weaknesses and foibles in our society.” Since the pandemic struck, I’ve been offering online and phone support to educators in their quest to stay connected with students and families, despite their schools being closed for in-person instruction. While the drastic move to remote learning has meant using technologies that none of us could have anticipated or even imagined, there is no question that our global health crisis has also shone a very bright light on what Dr. Fauci referenced—the structural inequities that are occurring in schools and society across the nation.  To name just a few startling statistics, consider the following:

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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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