Pandemic Response and Educational Practices

A visual representation of virtual student learning

Relationships: First and Always

Categories: Instruction, Pandemic Response and Educational Practices, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Student Engagement

In the spring of 2020, I published my very first book, I’m Listening: How Teacher-Student Relationships Improve Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening in which I poured everything I knew about teaching and learning.

And Then, The Pandemic
Suddenly, everything I wrote in this book seemed wholly inadequate for the emerging challenge of teaching during a pandemic. The pile of my newly printed books remained untouched, as instead teachers (including me) searched for books and articles that promised best practices and solutions for virtual learning. As an instructional coach for grades 6-12, I immersed myself in tutorials for digital tools that held the promise of perhaps an easier yet still productive school year for our students and teachers.

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How do you want to tackle trauma

How Do You Want to Tackle Trauma? Are You Focused on the Short Term or Aiming for Long-Term Solutions?

Categories: Authors, Pandemic Response and Educational Practices, School Improvement

Schools and districts are planning to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars next year so that 2021-2022 will be a better year for all our students and schools will be safe for students and staff. Thanks to Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, it almost feels like schools have won some lottery.

Yet, we need to ask ourselves, what could really make a difference? Is it the SEL program you purchase? Will it be a new air conditioning system? Or perhaps a new distance learning program? Right now, there are many commercial interests vying for our attention as school and district budgets are being formed with such rapidity that it is almost as if we are concerned that within a blink of an eye the monies will disappear. Which, in a way, is true. This is a time-limited deal. Buy now or lose out. So, what options do schools have? Read more

Thoughtful Engagement Leads to Essential Empowerment

Categories: Authors, Instruction, Pandemic Response and Educational Practices, Solution Tree, Student Engagement

As we reflect on the trials faced during this COVID-19 state of being, we long for a chance to navigate away from struggles and toward new beginnings. During this new phase of learning designed by the pandemic, I find myself in the role of guest teacher in order to keep the education of students continuing when symptoms or close contact removes the regular teacher for a brief period. I must admit that I absolutely love being back in a classroom setting and interacting with students. Having an opportunity to provide instruction on a variety of topics fills me with both excitement and anxiety. As a principal the stakes are certainly high; you make sure to meet the same expectations you have set for your staff when you take the reins, and one of the key pieces is student engagement. Engagement is paramount while we focus on bridging learning gaps caused by the recent upheaval.

All parties grapple with building connections and maintaining engagement during this socially isolated time. The struggle is real. It is real for the teaching staff, students, support staff, administration, parents, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and the list goes on. We have all been searching for an answer on how to engage safely with each other, on the level we desire and know to be essential for growth in an education setting. Critical are the relationships built during the course of a school year. The personal bonds that teachers have with their students reinforce basic needs of belonging, which is the antithesis of what many of us are currently feeling. Social isolation, specifically in a school setting, has created a disconnect. The pandemic has often left us with somewhat superficial attachments rather than the deeper camaraderie facilitated through daily face-to-face sessions. Targeted work to show compassion and caring through our extended or virtual classrooms has been a goal for educators of all disciplines. Integrating social-emotional learning strategies has provided help in this work of regaining and maintaining connections as we shift our focus from engagement to empowerment. Read more

Searching For My “Awe Family” Response!

Categories: Instruction, Leadership, Pandemic Response and Educational Practices, Solution Tree

Image of heart with blog title

I sense a paradox of competing emotions on the horizon.

On one hand I find joy in the capacity of our positive, generous, and courageous human response to the relentless stress, strain, and change we have faced each day for almost a year now. On the other hand, I feel queasy and uneasy as we close in on the anniversary of the most intense, unexpected and unwelcome change to our personal and professional lives as educators. March 2020 seems so long ago, and yet it sticks so close to, and lives inside of, our very being as teachers.

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Overwhelmed in 2020? Small Steps Toward Educator Replenishment | Pandemic Response and Educational Practices (PREP)

Stressed Teachers in 2021? Take These Small Steps to Avoid Burnout

Categories: Pandemic Response and Educational Practices

This entry is the 16th in a blog series called Pandemic Response and Educational Practices (PREP), which aims to highlight and further the important work educators are doing amid the worldwide COVID-19 crisis.

It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has left educators feeling more stressed than ever. According to a recent study (Blintiff et al., 2020), teacher wellness has decreased—and overall stress has increased dramatically—throughout the pandemic.

Educators are worried about the well-being of their students, they are experiencing stress as they scramble to meet the needs of their students online and face-to-face, and they are navigating the ever-changing safety protocols—as well as balancing work-life demands. Read more