The New Normal of School: A few suggestions, a few resources, a few tools. You can do this
It’s been less than a week. It doesn’t seem like it. But think back to last week. I was looking forward to watching the Big 12 basketball tournament and already had a tentative NCAA bracket filled out. You were relaxing on your spring break or looking forward to a well-earned break this week.
Whole different world.
Here in Kansas, the entire school system has shifted from a face to face model of teaching and learning to one that revolves around e-learning. For the rest of the year. And you may not yet be in that sort of long term distance learning environment. Yet. But I think school for the rest of spring 2020 is going to be very different for most of us.
So what can that look like? What tools should you use? Are there tips and tricks that can help? I want to start the conversation and share some ideas and resources that can help in this world of a new normal. And I know you’ve all been buried under a ton of information and emails and free offers and suggestions and to-do lists.
So I’m going to try and keep this short. Today is just enough to get you started – I’ll be updating and adding posts all spring.
Seriously. Take a deep breath and let it out. Close your eyes and do it again. And think of the beach. Or the mountains. Or wherever your happy place is.
Cause it seems overwhelming now. But you got this. I can’t think of another time in my entire teaching career when so many people have got your back. Not only can we do this but what we’re going to do is going to be awesome.
Make a decision. Are you going to resist this? Accept this? Or be grateful for this?
Patrick Buggy of Mindful Ambition suggests that when we resist, we’re the ones who tend to suffer the most. When we accept the situation, the resistance goes down as well as our suffering. Feeling grateful is the inverse of resisting it. We’re excited and hopeful instead of feeling negative and contracted. And I know right now it’s probably not easy to feel grateful but how you decide to react to the current situation will have a huge impact on your students.
One teacher I know said
I’m grateful that because we’ll have less time with our kids, I get to make better choices about my scope and sequence. I don’t have to worry about trying to teach everything!
That’s the third thing.
Less is more.
You’re going to need to change not only how you teach but what you teach. Be willing – and grateful about it – to find ways to cut your content. Don’t stress about that big end of the year project you always do that you hate to grade cause it took forever.
Maybe you can adapt it but feel free to ditch it for 2020. The new normal says it’s not going to happen. One thing I’ve noticed in the last week is that there are lot of things that are not as important as we thought they were.
Less is more.
But I do have a few suggestions, a few resources, and a few tools that might be useful.
A Few Suggestions
- Drill and kill is not the answer. Continue to focus on powerful questions and problems.
- Don’t expect lower quality. But expect to assign and receive less work.
- Create a consistent schedule that includes virtual office hours so that students can contact you. Stick to those hours.
- Be super clear with students about what you want. Bulleted lists are great for this. (Less is more.)
- Post short videos of yourself – daily if possible. Most kids will miss the social part of school. Let them see you.
- Give yourself and students lots of grace.
A Few Resources
- The Kansas Department of Education’s Continuous Learning Task Force put together an excellent website that has a TON of suggestions, resources, and tools. Start there.
- We’ve started a constantly updated list of resources at ESSDACK.
- Tips for Designing an Online Lesson by Catlin Tucker. You’ll get tools and tutorial videos.
- The Library of Congress and their TPS program has a wonderful discussion group about teaching online with primary sources. Great for talking with other social studies teachers.
- Coronavirus Resources: Teaching, Learning and Thinking Critically, a daily updated page from the New York Times Learning Network
A Few Tools
Ready to use lessons and activities specifically designed for digital delivery. Here’s how you might use it. (Including tons of resources on the 1918 pandemic.)
- Google Arts and Culture
Virtual museums, historical sites, and millions (yes, millions) of online artifacts and images. What can this look like?
- Smithsonian Learning Lab
Two and half million primary sources that you can curate and share with kids. Learn more about what that can look like. And explore their digital office hours.
- So many virtual tours.
Start with these lists: Departures. MSN Lifestyle. USA Today. Mental Floss.
Perfect for communicating with kids and having kids talk with other kids. Try these great ideas for using it.
Free screen and video recording software for Mac, Windows, and Chromebooks
Pick a few of these. Explore them a bit. Then decide. Resist, accept, or be grateful for the chance to teach in a whole new way?
Together, we can do this. What are you using? What’s working for you?
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Glenn is a curriculum and tech integration specialist, speaker, and blogger with a passion for technology and social studies. He delivers engaging professional learning across the country with a focus on consulting, presentations, and keynotes. Find out more about Glenn and how you might learn together by going to his Work with Me page.