Never in a million years would I have imagined this is how I would be ending my 4th year teaching…digital learning. And not JUST digital learning. Digital learning because of a pandemic.
I first want to say that teachers are literal heroes. Around the globe, teachers are providing students an education through a screen with almost no warning or preparation. I’m really thankful that I get to be included in the “teachers” category.
I know this experience has been different for a lot of people. I’ve seen teachers creating their own digital resources and sharing with others, while I’ve seen other teachers admitting that this is really difficult for them. Whichever teacher you are, YOU ARE DOING ENOUGH. YOU ARE ENOUGH. For me, I started out really strong. I created a YouTube channel and made some educational videos for my students, but the closer we got to the end of the year, I felt myself losing motivation. This is something we’ve never experienced, so it’s okay to feel all over the place and overwhelmed. Those feelings don’t make you any less of a teacher. Like a counselor once told me, “Your feelings are valid. They’re not right or wrong. They’re your feelings, and it’s okay to feel them.”
Here are some ways that have helped me feel connected with my kids in this crazy time.
- A GOOGLE CHECK-IN: I saw several teachers doing this, so I decided to give it a try. I’ve done a Google Check-In once during the school year, so I don’t have a lot of experience with Google Forms, but it’s simple to navigate. Just go to your Drive, then press “New”, click on “Google Forms”, and start creating. Mine was very simple. There was a spot for them to type their name, I asked how they were feeling, if they preferred digital or in-school learning, and what I could do to support them. I then ended it by asking them to share their favorite Science memory with me. The goal for this was to check in on their well-being. I got the most students responses on this check-in compared to any other assignment that I had posted. Reading their favorite memories of my class brought me so much joy. Even though this was meant to check in on their well-being, this was so encouraging for me. I really miss them.
- GOOGLE MEET/PICTURE DAY: My school does not require us to be on a video call every day. And to be completely honest, I’m really thankful for that. Some weeks I would have 2-3 a week and other weeks, I’d have one. I would use that time to review content and ask if they had any questions. Without fail, all the students on my Google Meet didn’t have any questions. They just wanted to chat. So we chatted. I would ask them what they’ve been doing and how they liked digital learning. Other days, we’d talk about the newest t.v. shows we’ve been watching. It’s what I like to call balance. When I was on one of my Google Meets, one of my students reminded me that I usually take a class picture on the last day of school to hang in my room for the next year. Currently, I have 3 class pictures hanging on my wall in my classroom for all the years I’ve taught. I was talking to one of my teammates (Alicia Garcia @garciamathparty) who does the same thing, and she had an amazing idea! She was telling me how we could have Picture Day on Google Meet. I was all in! I emailed all the parents with a time and date, and we took a picture with the students that showed up. I used the “screenshot” feature on my laptop, and we also took pictures on our phone and held it so you can’t see it in the picture. Again, a simple idea that gave them something to look forward to. It will be nice to look at that picture hanging in my classroom and have it serve as a reminder to never take teaching in my classroom for granted.
Lol @ me trying to get Biggie and Tupac in the class photo…
- LETTERS: I started a tradition where I hand write letters to each of my students 2 times a year. One is right before Christmas break, and the other time is at the end of the year. Since we’re not together this year, I still decided to write some letters. I wrote a note thanking them for their hard work and telling them that I love and miss them. I also added some space stickers that I bought from Amazon because our last unit was Astronomy and middle schoolers are obsessed with stickers. I mean, I am too…
Even if you haven’t done any of the things listed above, YOU ARE DOING ENOUGH. I just wanted to share what has worked for me. Remember: Do your best, and then DAB ON THE HATERS! (I had to keep this sticker)